Williams Named USA Softball National Player of the Week

March 2, 2010

SEATTLE - Washington sophomore Niki Williams has been named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced on Tuesday, after leading the No. 1 Huskies to a 5-0 record at the prestigious Cathedral City Classic over the weekend. Additionally, pitcher Danielle Lawrie has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season.

Williams batted .588 (10-for-17) with four home runs, seven runs scored and 11 RBI in five games, three of which came against ranked teams. She had at least one hit in all five games to extend her hitting streak to a career-high 11 games and also had at least one RBI in each game.

The Mission Viejo, Calif., native homered in each of the last four games as well, giving her five on the season. Through 13 games this year, she is batting .500 (19-38) with five home runs and 16 RBI, all of which rank second on the squad.

Williams started the weekend in Palm Springs with an RBI double and an RBI single in UW's 8-0 win over No. 25 BYU, then helped the Huskies defeat No. 9 Oklahoma, launching a three-run home that ended up being the difference in the 7-4 victory. On Saturday, Williams went 4-for-7 in two games against No. 19 Fresno State and Oklahoma State, belting two home runs and driving in four runs. She hit a solo home run against Bulldogs' All-American pitcher Morgan Melloh in UW's 10-2 win then hit a two-run shot and added an RBI single in a 9-4 win over Oklahoma State, which entered the national rankings this week.

The versatile underclassman - who played both infield and outfield last weekend - wrapped up her big weekend Sunday by going 3-for-4 with a two-run home run to help UW defeat UC Davis in six innings.

Since starting the season 0-for-7, Williams has batted .613 (19-for-31) since then. With five home runs so far this season, she has already matched her total from her freshman year in which she played 57 games.

'It's just exciting. I've never won something prestigious like this. To see that the hard work you put in can lead to some success is exciting,' Williams said. 'I struggled at the beginning of the season, but I made some adjustments and started seeing the seeing the ball better and hitting the ball hard. The experience of being here last year and knowing what it's all about and just being more comfortable in the box has been huge. I have the mindset now that no one is going to beat me and thinking positively like that has made a big difference.'

Williams joins Lawrie as Washington players who have earned USA Softball Player of the Week honors in 2010.

Lawrie, meanwhile, earned her second conference honor of the season and the 12th of her career, which is third all-time in Pac-10 history. She went 4-0 at the Cathedral City Classic, defeating then-No. 25 BYU, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 19 Fresno State and current No. 25 Oklahoma State. While her numbers weren't as gaudy as they were the first week of the season when she swept the National and Pac-10 honors, Lawrie was still steady, allowing eight runs in 23.0 innings, striking out 37 batters and walking just three.

The senior started the weekend strong, throwing a one-hit shutout of BYU, striking out 10 to move into eighth all time in NCAA history and fourth in Pac-10 history in career strikeouts. She then took on the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners, allowing just seven hits and striking out nine, while also adding a two-run home run at the plate.

On Saturday, Lawrie defeated her third-straight ranked team, taking down No. 19 Fresno State with eight strikeouts and allowing just two runs on three hits, while also going 2-for-3 with three RBI, including her team-high eighth home run of the season. Lawrie ended the weekend by coming on in relief against Oklahoma State and throwing the final five innings, striking out 10 to earn her fourth win of the weekend. She is now 9-0 on the season with 102 strikeouts in 56 innings with just five walks.

The Huskies retained their No. 1 ranking in each of the national polls for the fourth straight week, earning a unanimous No. 1 ranking for the third time in the NFCA/USA Today poll, receiving all 30 first-place votes. They are also No. 1 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll, receiving 17 of 20 first-place votes.

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