UW Title Hopes Alive With 7-0 Win
May 7, 2009
Facing a must-win game to keep their Pac-10 title hopes the alive, the No. 4/5 Washington softball team came up with a huge performance on Thursday, knocking off the No. 2/4 Stanford Cardinal at Husky Softball Stadium on the strength of Danielle Lawrie's 10-strikeout, three-hit performance.
UW stayed undefeated at home at 14-0 and kept their hopes alive of a share of the Pac-10 title. At 40-9 overall and 13-6 in Pac-10 play, UW cannot win the title outright after UCLA defeated Cal today, but should the Huskies win their final two games and UCLA and Stanford (44-7, 13-6) split their games Friday and Saturday, UW would tie with UCLA. The Huskies would also tie Stanford for the conference crown should the Cardinal sweep the Bruins.
Lawrie improved to 31-5 on the season with her 18th shutout of the year. She allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out 10 for her 21st double-digit strikeout performance of the season. The junior has now defeated eight of the nation's top-10 teams and nine of the top 11.
The Husky offense, meanwhile, touched up Stanford ace Missy Penna for seven runs - six earned - on eight hits. The All-American, who shutout UW in back-to-back games in Palo Alto to start Pac-10 play, dropped to 31-5 despite striking out 11 batters.
The previous two games between the teams were pitcher's duels, with Penna out-dueling Lawrie both times as Stanford came away with a 1-0, 11-inning victory and a 2-0 victory to clinch the season series. But the Huskies guaranteed they would not be swept by any team this season with the runaway victory.
Ashley Charters continued to dominate Pac-10 pitching, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored for her 12th multi-hit game in 19 Pac-10 contests. Morgan Stuart also had a big game for the Huskies, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and a career-high five RBI. She blasted a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put the game away.
The Huskies broke Penna's mastery over them in the very first inning, snapping an 18-inning scoreless drought off the senior. Freshman Kimi Pohlman got the rally started by lacing a double in the left-center gap before Lawrie was hit by a pitch and Ashlyn Waston walked to load the bases. Stuart then drew a two-out walk to drive in the first run of the game.
The Cardinal had threatened to take the early lead in the first with two hits off Lawrie, but the junior escaped the jam and would shut Stanford down the rest of the way, allowing just a single in the seventh.
Alissa Haber led off the game with a single up the middle for Stanford but was quickly erased when Alicia Blake threw her out attempting to steal during Ashley Hansen's at-bat. Hansen then ripped a single to left but Lawrie sandwiched two strike outs around a walk to escape.
UW added another run in the third inning on an RBI single by Stuart. Jenn Salling lined a single up the middle to start the inning and Watson was hit by a pitch before Stuart ripped a ball up the middle to plate Salling.
The Huskies manufactured another run in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead. With one out, Charters ripped a single up the middle and later stole second to get into scoring position with two outs. Salling then hit a hard ground ball up the first base line which kicked off the Stanford first baseman's glove and rolled far enough away to allow Salling to dive head first into the bag and beat the tag. Charters wisely never broke stride and came all the way around to score from second as the first baseman was diving to make the tag on Salling.
UW then broke the game open in the sixth inning, scoring four runs, three of which came on Stuart's fourth home run of the season. Charters led off with a single and Pohlman followed with a walk. After both moved up 60 feet on a wild pitch, Lawrie drove in Charters with a ground out to short. Stuart then followed with a deep blast to left-center to up the lead to 7-0.
Lawrie was in control the rest of the way, striking out the side in the second and the first two in the third to give her six in a row. After the walk in the first, she retired the next 15 batters until Hansen reached on an error in the sixth. Lawrie did not allow a hit after the first inning until pinch-hitter Brittany Minder led off the seventh with a single, but Lawrie retired the next three to end the game.
Lawrie's 31 wins this season ties her own mark in 2007 for third all-time at UW. Her 18 shutouts are already a record and she now has 381 strikeouts this season, just six shy of her own No. 2 mark in school history. She set the record in 2007 with 457.
Charters, meanwhile, took over sole possession of the No. 2 spot on the all-time hits list as her 294 put her two ahead of Jaime Clark. She needs 25 more to tie the all-time record held by Sara Pickering.
UW completes the weekend and the regular season with two games against California, on Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at Noon. The Huskies will find out their postseason fate on Sunday when the NCAA Selection Show airs on ESPNU at 7 p.m. PT.
Today's game will air tape-delayed on Fox Sports Northwest tomorrow at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Barry Tompkins and Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Mendoza will call the action.