Salling To Add Pop To UW Lineup

April 8, 2009

By Christian Caple
The Daiyl

SEATTLE - Washington ace Danielle Lawrie has known All-American shortstop Jen Salling since the two were in seventh grade; both are natives of British Columbia and members of the Canadian national team that reached the medal round at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

And now the UW softball program will get to know Salling, too.

She was added to the Huskies' roster Friday, played shortstop, batted third that day against Arizona and adds a much-needed punch in the middle of a lineup that has struggled to score runs for the past month or so.

As surprises go, it wasn't much of one. Salling had been enrolled at North Seattle Community College since September and had long been rumored to be joining Lawrie at Washington.

But Lawrie said their friendship didn't really have an impact on Salling's decision.

'I don't think it was a sense of recruiting,' Lawrie said. 'I think it was a decision she made by herself. I don't think there was anybody saying, `Hey, you need to do this.''

Salling hit .481 as a redshirt freshman at Oregon, good for second in the nation. But she didn't find Eugene to her liking, deciding after that year to look at different schools once she got back from Beijing. She'll have one more year of eligibility after this one, since she redshirted her first year at Oregon, played one season and sat out last year to play in the Olympics.

And Salling said her decision to come to Washington, which didn't even recruit her out of high school, didn't have as much to do with Lawrie as one might think.

'I think it was more so [that] I just wanted to win,' said Salling, who hails from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. 'I wanted to be close to my family. I just love it here. I love the atmosphere, and that was pretty much the main thing.'

Salling brings a reputable bat to a lineup that, while not lacking depth, has struggled against top-tier pitching thus far. Washington couldn't score against Stanford ace Missy Penna two weekends ago and has been shut out in four of its five losses this season.

So, adding Salling into the No. 3 slot, two spots behind leadoff hitter and All-American Ashley Charters, puts a little more power into a UW lineup that has been more serviceable than dominant this season.

Salling hit 14 home runs and drove in 71 runs two seasons ago at Oregon. Both of those totals would have been team-highs -- by a lot -- for the Huskies last year.

'We're really happy to have her,' said UW head coach Heather Tarr. 'She brings veteran experience, composure. Everybody in the Pac-10 knows who she is, so it brings another name to our lineup.'

Washington won its first three games with Salling in the lineup, even though she didn't do much. She is still looking for her first hit as a Husky but said it hasn't been too difficult to immerse herself in the program after sitting out for so long.

'The girls have been really good getting me on board, just getting me back to certain situations,' Salling said. 'It's been a lot easier than I thought, to be honest.'

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