Road To OKC Starts In Amherst For No. 3 UW

May 12, 2009

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Amherst Region Tournament Central

NCAA Softball Championship Page

(All Times PT)
All UW Games Live on KKNW-1150 AM

Friday, May 15
Gm. 1: No. 3 Washington (41-10) vs. Sacred Heart (25-26), 2:00 p.m.
Gm. 2: No. 21 UMass (38-8) vs. Cornell (42-11), 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 16
Gm. 3: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 11:30 a.m.
Gm. 4: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 2:30 p.m.
Gm. 5: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Winner, 5 p.m.

Sunday, May 17
Regional Championship Game, 2 p.m.
If Necessary Game, 4:30 p.m.

The No. 3 Washington Husky softball team embarks on its 16th consecutive postseason appearance this week when they head to the Amherst Region in Amherst, Mass., looking to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals for the second time in three seasons. After finishing second in the Pac-10 Conference, UW earned the No. 3 overall seed in the 64-team tournament and will look to make their ninth appearance in the Women's College World Series and first since 2007.

UW will face Sacred Heart in their opening game on Friday at 5 p.m. ET in the four-team regional which also features host Massachusetts and Cornell. Sacred Heart is making their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament while UMass is hosting a regional for the fourth consecutive season after falling at home to another Pac-10 opponent, Stanford, last season. Cornell won the Ivy League, UMass captured the Atlantic-10 and Sacred Heart won the Northeast Conference.

The Huskies took the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament behind No. 1 Florida and No. 2 UCLA. The Huskies are one of six Pac-10 teams in the tournament, five of which are among the 16 seeded teams. The SEC leads the way with nine teams, the Big 12 has seven teams while the Big 10 and Pac-10 will send six each. 30 teams earned automatic bids while 34 teams received at-large bids. The Huskies have defeated 19 of the 64 teams in the tournament including 11 of the 15 seeded teams (excluding themselves, of course).

The Huskies are not the only one of the 16 seeded teams to travel as NCAA rules of regional proximity come into play. No. 6 Georgia was sent to Chapel Hill, N.C., No. 9 Arizona will travel to Louisville, Ky., No. 12 Northwestern is headed to Waco, Texas, and No. 15 DePaul hits the road for Columbia, Mo.

Should UW win their regional, they will most likely stay on the road for Super Regionals, May 22-24. Potential Super Regional opponents include No. 14 Georgia Tech, Auburn, Boston and Iowa. The Women's College World Series takes place in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 28-June 3.

All of this weekend's games and the remainder of the 2009 postseason will air live on KKNW 1150 AM with Mike Brown and John Cowley calling the action. Either turn your dial to 1150 AM or find audio at Additionally, all games this postseason can be followed via Gametracker on

For fans interested in making the trip out to Amherst, tickets are available by calling the UMass ticket office at 413-545-0810. All tickets are General Admission. A three-day package is available for $30 for chair-back seats, and bleacher seats are $27 for adults and $13 for children. Chair-back seats are directly behind home plate. Single-day tickets are $12 for chair backs, $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Fans can follow the Husky softball team and receive updates throughout the postseason on the UW Softball Twitter page by logging on to The Huskies can also be found on Facebook via the Washington Softball fan page. Search for 'Washington Husky Softball' on Facebook to find the official fan page.

While the Huskies fell two games short of their third Pac-10 title, UW did clinch sole possession of second-place in the most difficult conference in the nation, their highest finish in the conference since winning the Pac-10 in 2000. UW started the week with a huge win at home, avenging two losses earlier in the season to Stanford by breaking out the bats in 7-0 win. Danielle Lawrie struck out 10 and allowed just four hits in earning her 18th shutout of the season. Morgan Stuart led the way with a career-high five RBI, including her fourth home run.

After Cal edged UW, 1-0, on Friday to snap UW's 14-game home winning streak and end their conference title hopes, UW came back in a big way Saturday, celebrating Senior Day with an 11-3, mercy-rule victory. Seniors Lauren Greer, Marnie Koziol and Ashlyn Watson each had two hits, with Watson hitting her 10th home run, while Stuart struck again with another long ball. Lawrie allowed just two hits this time and struck out 10 again to earn her 32nd win of the season and send UW into the postseason on a high note.

The Huskies are making their 16th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, missing out only during their inaugural season in 1993. Washington has a 62-29 record in postseason (44-11 Regionals/3-4 Super Regionals/15-14 WCWS) and has advanced to the Women's College World Series eight times (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007). The Huskies advanced to the national championship game in both 1996 and 1999. Their 16-straight tournament appearances is tied for the fifth-longest active streak with Oklahoma, while their 62 wins in the tournament are fifth-best in NCAA history. Their eight WCWS appearances are tied for the fifth-most in history with Michigan, and they also are tied with Oklahoma for the fifth-best all-time streak of consecutive WCWS appearances (1996-2000).

Sacred Heart Pioneers
25-26 Overall, 12-7 Northeast Conference
2008 - 23-25
Series vs. UW: First Meeting
About Sacred Heart: The Pioneers from Fairfield, Conn., won the Northeast Conference tournament last week to claim their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament. The Pioneers made several appearances in NCAAs as a Division II school but moved up to the big show in 1999. Sacred Heart defeated last year's NEC champion Long Island, 4-0, on Sunday to win the conference title. Sophomore pitcher Jen Russell was named the tournament MVP after throwing a four-hit shutout against LIU.

Russell was recently named to the All-Northeast Conference First Team while co-head coaches Elizabeth 'Bippy' Luckie and Pam London were named NEC Coaches of the Year. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Froelich, sophomore infielder Courtney Lee and senior infielder Amanda Bradley were named to the Second Team. Russell leads the team with an 18-14 record and a 1.84 ERA, striking out 170 batters in 212 innings. Froelich, meanwhile, has sparked the offense, leading the team in average (.341), runs (31), hits (56) and home runs (8). Lee is second on the team with a .305 average and a team-best 13 stolen bases. Head coaches Luckie and London are in their 20th season at the helm of the Pioneer program.

Common Opponents: Long Island (L, 2-1; L, 2-0; W, 4-0).

Series History: This will be the first-ever meeting between UW and Sacred Heart. The Huskies have only played one game against a Northeast Conference team, defeating Long Island earlier this season in Palm Springs, 7-3.

No. 21/24 UMass Minutewomen
38-8 Overall, 16-2 Atlantic-10
2008 - 42-13
Series vs. UW: Washington leads 8-0
About UMass: The Minutewomen have dominated the Atlantic-10 conference in recent years, winning five consecutive conference championships after their 11-0 win over Saint Joseph's last weekend. UMass has won 14 of the last 15 A-10 titles and 21 overall. This season marks the 20th time overall and 14th in a row that the Minutewomen have received an NCAA Tournament berth.

UMass is led in the pitching circle by four-time A-10 Pitcher of the Year Brandice Balschmiter. With a 31-4 record in 2009, she now has 123 wins in her career, ranking first all-time at UMass and tied for ninth in NCAA history. This season, Balschmiter has a nation-leading 20 shutouts and has posted a 0.91 ERA. The Minutewomen offense is led by A-10 Player of the Year Carly Normandin, who has led the offense to a school record 66 home runs this season, smashing the old mark of 56 set in 2005. The Minutewomen are hitting .306 as a team and average 5.63 runs per game. Normandin, leads the A-10 with a .426 batting average, while senior Samantha Salato broke a school and conference record with 16 home runs so far this season. Coach Elaine Sortino is in her 29th season at the helm of UMass' program, having won over 1,000 games in her career.

Common Opponents: Long Island (W, 8-0); Michigan (W, 1-0); Tennessee (L, 6-1); UCLA (L, 4-2); Arizona State (W, 1-0); Nebraska (W, 3-0); Loyola Marymount (W, 7-0).

Series History: The Huskies are undefeated in eight tries all-time against the Minutewomen including a 1-0 win in the 1998 Women's College World Series. UW defeated UMass 6-1 in the first meeting in 1996 and 2-1 in 1997 before the teams squared off twice in '98, a 5-1 UW win in the preseason and 1-0 win in the WCWS. The teams also played each other twice in the 2001 NCAA Regionals in Norman, Okla., with UW winning both games, 8-0 and 7-1, before getting knocked out by Oklahoma. UW won another close contest between the teams, 1-0, in 2003 before their most recent match-up, a 5-2 Husky win in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl tournament in Phoenix, Ariz.

Cornell Big Red
42-11, 17-3 Ivy League
2008 - 40-10
Series vs. UW: Never Faced
About Cornell: The Big Red won the Ivy League by defeating Dartmouth in the Ivy playoffs for their fourth conference title. Cornell also won the title in 1999, 2001 and 2004. The Big Red have some good memories to go on in their last NCAA appearance as they upset Long Beach State for head coach Dick Blood's 300th career victory. With a 42-11 record, Cornell has matched its school record for wins that was set during the 2004 campaign when it became the last Ivy League school to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Blood is in his 16th season at Cornell and his team is led by junior Ashley Garvey who boasts a .411 average with 10 home runs and a team-leading 62 RBI. Senior Jessy Berkey leads the team with 12 long balls while junior Alyson Intihar provides the speed with 12 stolen bases. In the circle, sophomore Elizabeth Dalrymple leads the way with a 19-3 record and a 1.18 ERA.

Common Opponents: None

Series History: Should the Huskies and Cornell meet in the Regional it will mark the first meeting between the two teams. UW has only played one Ivy League team in their history, defeating Princeton twice, once each in 1996 and 2004.

UW moved up to No. 3 in the NFCA poll this week and No. 4 in the rankings to move up one spot in each after winning two of three games last week, one of which came against then-No. 2 Stanford. The Huskies have been in the nation's top-5 for 12 consecutive weeks now since being ranked No. 7 in the NFCA poll on Feb. 17. UW was No. 3 in the all-important RPI rankings last week, which take strength of schedule into account, thus leading to their No. 3 overall seed in the tournament.

The Huskies spent two weeks at the top spot in the Softball Top 25 earlier this season after going 5-0 in the Cathedral City Classic, including a 1-0 win over current No.1 Florida. That performance gave the Huskies their first No. 1 ranking since the 2000 season. It was also the first time the Huskies have ever been ranked No. 1 in the poll, which has been in existence since 2003.

With a 14-7 record in conference play and a second-place finish, UW had their best Pac-10 season since the 2000 team won the school's second conference championship with a 17-4 record.

40-40 VISION
With two wins over the weekend, UW picked up their second 40-win season in the last five seasons, the last coming in 2007 when they won 42 games en route to the Women's College World Series. With 41 wins, Heather Tarr is now one shy of a career-best for a single-season in her five-year tenure at UW.

The 41 wins in the regular-season also mark UW's most since the 2003 team won 42 games before embarking on postseason which ended with them advancing to the Women's College World Series.

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