Softball To Compete In National Invitational Tournament In San Jose

March 10, 2004

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THIS WEEKEND: The eighth-ranked Washington softball team (13-5) hits the road to compete in the National Invitational Tournament, hosted by San Jose State. Washington will face Iowa on Friday, March 12 in a rematch of last season's regional championship. Last season, the Huskies defeated the Hawkeyes, 11-0 in both the regional semifinal and final to advance to the College World Series. UW will also play against Santa Clara on March 12 at 7 p.m. The Huskies have already faced the Broncos this season, winning a 1-0 decision in Long Beach.

SCOUTING IOWA: The Iowa Hawkeyes (9-6) are led by hurlers Ali Arnold and Lisa Birocci. Arnold leads the pitching staff with a 5-3 record, including three shutouts and 0.76 earned run average. Birocci has a 4-3 record and has struck out 78 batters in 46 innings of work. Offensively, the Hawkeyes are out hitting their opponents .293 to .116. Kylie Murray leads all players with a .389 (21-for-54) average, while Emily Gerlick and Sarah Thomson are each hitting at a .333 clip. Iowa is 1-1 against top 25 teams, spliting a pair of games against Arizona State (W, 9-0; L, 3-0). Washington leads the all-time series against the Hawkeyes 5-1 and has won five in a row.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: Santa Clara (7-14) has rebounded from an eight game losing streak in early February to win five of its last nine games. The Broncos rely heavily on pitcher Jaime Lau-Forman who has picked up all but on of SC's victories this season. Lau-Forman has a 2.06 ERA and has fanned 88 batters in 100.2 innings. Vanessa Werver leads Santa Clara's offense, hitting .338 (22-for-65) with six stolen bases. Jessica Clee ranks second with a .294 average and has belted three home runs this season. Her 11 RBIs and .456 slugging percentage are team bests. Washington leads the all-time series against the Broncos 11-0.

HUSKIES TOP CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM: Washington defeated the Canadian National Team 7-6 in eight innings on March 4 in an exhibition game. The Huskies collected 14 hits in the opener and overcame a three-run deficit to hand Team Canada its first loss of the season. The Huskies scored the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth on two hits. With Rita Roach starting the inning on second base, Team Canada intentionally walked Kristen Rivera. Callie Bergan followed with a single to the short stop and senior Amanda Oleson delivered the game-winner with a single into centerfield. Game two of the double header was halted due to darkness after two innings with the score knotted at 3-3.

NFCA LEADOFF CLASSIC RECAP: The Huskies went 2-3 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., Feb. 27-29. UW opened the tournament with wins over Texas and Army, before dropping three straight games to No. 11 Florida State, No. 12 LSU and Central Michigan. Kristen Rivera led the Huskies with a .364 average (4-for-11), including three home runs and eight runs batted in. Tia Bollinger tied her career-best strikeout performance against Central Michigan fanning 12. LSU and Florida State advanced to the tournament finals with LSU claiming the 4-3 victory.

CAMPBELL/CARTIER CLASSIC RECAP: Washington went 1-1 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic Feb. 20-22, dropping a 1-0 game to Long Beach State and defeating San Diego State 7-0. The Huskies had three games rained out on Saturday and Sunday, including match-ups against Fresno State, Auburn and Hawaii. Kristen Rivera led the Huskies with an .800 average (4-for-5) and a 1.400 slugging percentage. She notched five RBIs against SDSU, including a three-run home run. Tia Bollinger threw a one-hitter against the Aztecs, not allowing a base runner until the seventh inning.

FIESTA BOWL RECAP: Washington went 6-0 at the Fiesta Bowl Classic Feb 13-15, out scoring its opponents 50-11. The Huskies defeated Syracuse 11-1, No. 10 Texas 14-4, Texas Tech 6-0, No. 18 Texas A&M 4-2, Dayton 10-2 and Massachusetts 5-2. UW had seven players hit .400 or better, led by freshman Dominique Lastrapes with a .565 average. Highlights of the weekend included a two home run, seven RBI night for Sarah Hyatt vs. Texas, Kristen Rivera's 4-for-4 performance vs. UMass and Lastrapes's extension of her 11-game hitting streak.

HYATT HITS 'EM IN: Sophomore Sarah Hyatt ranks second on the team with 15 RBIs in her first 17 games of the season. Last year, Hyatt hit in 19 runs in 64 games.

HITTING IT DEEP: Junior catcher Kristen Rivera has belted seven home runs this season and holds the No. 2 position on the Husky career chart. She trails school record holder Jaime Clark (73) by 25 home runs. She opened the season on a high note, hitting a solo home run against San Diego State in her first at-bat of the year. Last season, Rivera set the UW season record with 25 home runs, which tied for the national lead.

STREAKING START: Freshman Dominique Lastrapes made her collegiate debut with an 11 game hitting streak. She has notched a base hit in 15 of 18 games this season and has picked up seven multi-hit games, including two games in which she recorded three hits. The school record is a 21 game hitting streak set by Rosie Leutzinger in 2000.

HYATT HIGHLIGHTS WIN OVER TEXAS: Sophomore Sarah Hyatt stole the show in the 14-4 mercy-rule victory over 10th-ranked Texas on Feb. 14. Hyatt hit two home runs in the game, including a game-ending grand slam. She picked up seven RBIs to fall one short of the school record. Hyatt is just the eighth player to hit a grand slam at Washington.

HUSKIES OPEN STRONG: Washington had a 10-1 record after the first two weeks of the season to tie for the second-best start in the program's history. Last season, UW set the school record with a 19-0-1 start and the 2002 squad posted a 10-1 start to the season.

MERCY-MERCY ME: The Huskies have invoked the mercy-rule four times this season. UW forced game-ending scores against San Diego State (8-0 in five innings), Texas (14-4 in six), Syracuse (11-1 in five) and Dayton (10-2 in five).

RECORDS WATCH: Tia Bollinger moved into the No. 2 position on the Husky charts for career wins with her 92nd against Texas on Feb. 27. She is just eight wins away from the school record (100). With two walks last week, Amanda Oleson moved into the Husky top 10 career charts. Oleson has drawn 65 bases in her career to sit in the No. 10 spot.

TWO NAMED TO WATCH LIST FOR USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: All-Americans Tia Bollinger and Kristen Rivera were among 40 college players named to an initial watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Last season, Bollinger and Rivera were named to the top 40 list, with Rivera being named a top 10 finalist.

NATIONAL RANKING: The Washington softball team dipped one spot to No. 8 in this week's USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll released on March 10.

The Huskies have been ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll in each of the last 130 poll datings. Washington's streak began with the team's No. 15 preseason ranking in 1994 and also includes smaller streaks of 66 straight top 6 rankings (2/28/96 - preseason 2001 poll) and 69 consecutive poll datings in the top 10 (preseason 1996 - 2/28/01).

Overall, the Huskies have remained in the top 15 in each of the last 113 poll datings, a streak that began with the preseason poll in 1996.

Washington is ranked No. 11 in the Softball Collegiate top 25 poll.

USA SOFTBALL REPRESENTATIVES: Junior catcher Kristen Rivera is one of 14 players named to the 2004 Women's National Elite team by USA Softball. The team was chosen from the USA player pool and will represent the U.S. in the 2004 Canada Cup, U.S. Champions Cup and other events to be scheduled. Former Husky standout and three-time All-American Jaime Clark was one of three alternates to join the 15-member USA National Team roster that will compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

NFCA NAMES TOP ALL-TIME TOP 50 TEAMS: The National Fastpitch Coaches' Association released its all-time top 50 poll with Washington ranking No. 3. The poll was complied using weekly rankings from the 1995 season to the 2003 final poll. Joining the Huskies in the top 10 are five other Pac-10 teams, including No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 UCLA, No. 7 California, No. 8 Arizona State and No. 10 Stanford.

HEAD COACHES: Former Washington assistant coaches Scott Centala and Steve Dailey take over the reigns as co-head coaches for the 2004 season. Centala enters his eighth season on the UW coaching staff and has helped develop Washington's program into one of the nation's elite teams. Since joining the program in the 1997 as a defensive specialist, the Huskies boast a 361-123-1 record with an incredible .745 winning percentage. All totaled, Husky players have earned 20 All-America certificates, 45 selections to All-Pac-10 squads and 31 All-Conference academic honors during Centala's tenure.

Dailey begins his second season with the Huskies as the offensive coach. Last season, Dailey helped cultivate Washington's offense into one of the most powerful line-ups in the country. The Huskies pounded 75 home runs, including 25 by Kristen Rivera to set the UW record and tie for the national lead. Washington out scored its opponents by nearly double (313-161) and invoked the mercy-rule 11 times, including three times at the regional tournament to set a Washington postseason record. Dailey also helped the Huskies become more selective at the plate, increasing their number of walks and decreasing their number of strikeouts.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 14-player Washington roster includes 10 returning letterwinners and nine returning starters. The 2004 team is comprised of four seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Ten players hail from California, three from Washington and one from Oregon.

2003 SEASON RECAP: Washington sprinted out to its best start in the program's history and was the last undefeated team in the country with a 19-0-1 mark last year. The Huskies peaked in May, splitting their final Pac-10 games against top-ranked Arizona in Tucson to earn the No. 1 seed at the regional tournament in Lincoln, Neb. Washington powered its way through its regional competition, sweeping the field 4-0 and out scoring its opponents 35-1, including three mercy-rule victories, to advance to its sixth Women's College World Series. The Huskies opened the series with a 3-1 win over Oklahoma before dropping a pair of one-run heartbreakers to Arizona and UCLA to finish the season tied for fifth place. Kristen Rivera was a first team All-America selection and Tia Bollinger was named to the second team.

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