Huskies Advance To Regional Championship With 3-1 Win
May 16, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. - Danielle Lawrie out-dueled Brandice Balschmiter in a match-up of two of the country's top pitchers, giving No. 3 Washington an important 3-1 win in their NCAA Division I Regional at UMass Softball Complex.
The winner's bracket victory advances UW (43-10) directly into Sunday's championship game at 2 p.m. PT with a win giving them a berth in next week's NCAA Super Regionals. The Huskies will either play UMass again or Sacred Heart, with either team needing to beat the Huskies twice to advance.
Lawrie struck out 12 for the second straight day and allowed just three hits to improve to 34-6. UMass' one run was unearned while the Huskies also plated three unearned runs for the victory.
A day after going 0-for-4 in UW's 9-1 opening win, senior Ashley Charters showed why she's one of the top hitters in the country, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases. She scored UW's first run and also came around to score the third run of the game in the seventh inning after UMass had tied the game in the sixth. Sophomore Jenn Salling also continued to swing a hot bat, going 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI. She is 4-for-6 in postseason play, having reached base six times in eight plate appearances.
In the much-anticipated pitcher's duel, the Huskies got their first runner on base right away as Charters broke her mini-slump with a sharp infield single up the middle. She stole second later in the inning and UW put two on when Ashlyn Watson drew a two-out walk but UW was unable to push across the first run of the game.
Lawrie breezed through the first five batters of the game, striking out four in a row after the leadoff hitter popped up on the first pitch. UMass finally got a base runner on a two-out single in the second but Lawrie struck out the next batter to get out of the inning.
UW plated the first run of the game in the third inning. With one out, Charters hit a smash to third base which was snagged by the Miinuetwoman third baseman, but she rushed the throw to get the speedy Charters and the ball went into right field, allowing the senior to move to second. UW kept UMass rattled with their speed when Kimi Pohlman slapped a chopper to the third baseman who checked Charters at second, which gave Pohlman enough time to beat the throw to first.
That set up Salling, who lined a single to left field to plate Charters.
UMass tried to get the run back in their half of the third, getting two runners on base, both of whom were hit by pitches. But Lawrie struck out one batter, got a fielder's choice ground out and a ground out to short to escape the jam.
The Huskies had another run on in the fourth on two on in the fifth but Balschmiter was able to wiggle out of trouble both times.
UW then flashed the defense in the bottom of the fifth. After Kyllie Magill led off the inning with a single, the Minutewomen tried to bunt her over but Stuart jumped all over the bunt and fired a strike down to second base, where Salling stretched to get the lead runner for the first out. Lawrie then struck out the next batter and got the third out on a fly ball to center.
The Minutewomen managed to tie the game in the sixth, however, when Whitney Williams led off with a double. Whitney Mollica then lifted a fly ball into right field which was caught by Kimi Pohlman but her throw to third got away and allowed Williams to score the unearned run. Lawrie struck out the final two batters in the inning to escape without further damage.
But UW came right back and got the run back and then some. UW loaded the bases with one out after Niki Williams led off with a walk, Charters singled and Salling drew a walk. One out later, Stuart hit a hard ground ball to third base which snuck under the third baseman's glove, allowing the winning runs to score.
Lawrie saw to it that UMass wouldn't put a rally together in the bottom of the inning, getting a ground out, a strike out and a pop up to end the game and put UW one step away from the Super Regionals.
The Huskies will find out later Saturday night who their opponent will be on Sunday. Sacred Heart eliminated Cornell following the UW-UMass game and will now play UMass for the right to play a re-match against the Huskies at 2 p.m. PT. Should the Huskies drop the first game, the 'if' game would take place at 4:30 p.m. PT.
UW improved to 34-0 when they score the first run of the game
Lawrie's 24 strikeouts this weekend give her 1,266 for her career, moving her one shy of fifth place in Pac-10 history. Her 34 wins this season ties her with Jennifer Spediacci for second on the single-season charts, two shy of tying the record.
Charters now has 79 hits this season, tying a career-high which ranks tied for 10th all time in UW history. Her 298 career hits rank second all time, 21 shy of the all time record. Her 35 stolen bases this season are also one shy of a career high and ranks tied for sixth on the single-season charts.