No. 1 Huskies Wrap Up Four-Week Road Swing In Hawaii

March 4, 2010

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Friday, March 5
#1 Washington (12-1) vs. East Carolina (6-7), 6 p.m. PT

Saturday, March 6
#1 Washington vs. Seattle U (1-8), 4 p.m. PT
#1 Washington vs. Hawaii (9-6), 8 p.m. PT

Sunday, March 7
Playoffs, TBD

All Times Pacific
All games available via Gametracker,

The No. 1 Washington softball team (12-1) heads across the Pacific Ocean this week to continue its four-week road swing when they play in the four-team Bank of Hawai'i Invitational in Honolulu. The Huskies will travel 2,670 miles to face their inter-city rivals, Seattle U, along with East Carolina and host Hawai'i. UW opens play against the Pirates on Friday at 6 p.m. PT before a doubleheader on Saturday against the Redhawks at 4 p.m. and host Hawai'i at 8 p.m. Playoffs take place on Sunday, with times and opponents to be determined.

The Huskies won the Hawai'i Invitational tournament the last time they played in it in 2008, going 6-0 and defeating host Hawai'i, 8-6, in the championship game. Morgan Stuart earned tournament MVP honors and went on to be named Pac-10 Player of the Week after batting .526 with two home runs and 12 RBI over the weekend.

The Huskies first played in Hawai'i in 2003, going 6-0 to win the tournament. UW also played on the island in 2005, going 3-1 in Heather Tarr's first tournament as head coach, winning the first three games before losing to host Hawai'i.

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With Jenn Salling and Niki Williams swinging ridiculously hot bats and Danielle Lawrie being her steady self, the Huskies went 5-0 at the prestigious Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs with wins against three ranked teams. Salling hit an incredible .667 (10-for-15) with 10 runs scored and eight RBI in five games while Williams hit .588 (10-for-17) with four home runs and 11 RBI en route to being named the USA Softball National Player of the Week. Lawrie won four of UW's five games, including a one-hit shutout of No. 25 BYU in UW's opening game along with wins over No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 19 Fresno State. Against the Sooners, Lawrie bashed a two-run shot and Williams hit her first of four long balls on the weekend, a three-run shot that was the difference in the game. Lawrie and Williams also homered in a 10-2 win over Fresno State, one of three run-rule victories for the Dawgs on the weekend. They outscored their opponents, 43-11, in five games and hit 11 home runs in five games as a team, scoring at least seven runs in each game.

East Carolina Pirates
2010: 6-7
2009: 40-15
Series vs. UW: First Meeting
About East Carolina: The Pirates boast five players from the state of Hawai'i so this weekend's tournament will be a homecoming of sorts. ECU (6-7) is coming off a 4-0 weekend in the Pirate Classic in which junior Toni Paisley won three games and earned a save en route to being named Conference USA Pitcher of the Week. For the season, she is 5-4 but has just a 1.20 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. Her record and the Pirates overall record is deceiving as three of their seven losses have come to No. 3 Florida while another came at the hands of No. 12 Georgia Tech. Mari Gusman-Brown leads the offense with a .423 average while Kai Clark has driven in a team-high nine runs.
Series History: This week marks the first-ever meeting between Washington and East Carolina.

Seattle Redhawks
2010: 1-8
2009: 17-20
Series vs. UW: Washington leads 1-0
About Seattle: The Redhawks are off to a rough start in just their second season in Division I, going 0-7 before getting their first win against New Mexico last week. Jessica Amador leads the offense thus far with a .333 average with one home run and five RBI while Lauren Berin has a team-high seven RBI.
Series History: The Huskies won the first-ever meeting between the two teams last year in the Husky Softball Classic, earning an 8-0 victory in six innings. Danielle Lawrie allowed just two hits and struck out 13 while the Huskies pounded out 12 hits, led by seniors Alicia Blake (3x3), Ashley Charters (2x4) and Ashlyn Watson (2x4) in the Huskies' home opener. Last year was Seattle's first in Division I.

#RV Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine
2010: 9-6
2009: 30-24
Series vs. UW: Washington leads 7-2
About Hawai'i: The Rainbow Wahine are back home after a 12-game road trip, starting the season 5-1 before stumblin against some tough competition in the Cathedral City Classic. Freshman centerfielder Kelly Majam leads UH on offense with a .489 batting average (23-for-47) with team-highs in runs scored (18), doubles (4), and home runs (6). Junior third baseman Melissa Gonzalez is off to a hot start after missing much of last season with injuries, hitting .370 average (17-for-46) with four home runs. In the circle, Australian freshman Kaia Parnaby is 5-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 47.1 innings pitched and leads the staff with 58 strikeouts to just 12 walks.
Series History: The Huskies lost the first meeting between the two teams in 1995 but have now won seven of the last eight including the last two. UW won five in a row from 1998-2003, which included an NCAA Regional Final victory in 1999. The Rainbow Wahine broke the streak with a win in 2005, earning a 7-6 victory in Hawaii, before UW won the last two in 2008, when UW won the Hawai'i Invitational with wins of 3-2 and 8-6. Then-freshman Morgan Stuart earned her first career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor by batting .526 with five home runs and 12 RBI for the weekend.

The Huskies still hold the No. 1 spot in both national polls for the fourth straight week, and regained their unanimous status in the NFCA poll. The Huskies received 30 of 30 first-place votes to be named the unanimous No. 1 for the third time this season. They received 17 of 20 first-place votes in the USA Softball/ poll.

The Huskies started the season ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history, earning the top spot unanimously in the NFCA/USA Today poll while earning 17 of 20 first-place votes in the Softball poll. UW finished last season atop both polls after winning the Women's College World Series and they return six starters from that squad including National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie. Arizona is No. 2 in both polls and six of the eight Pac-10 teams are in the nation's top 15 (Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA).

After going 5-0 in the Cathedral City Classic to retain their No. 1 ranking, a couple of Huskies raked in some individual honors for impressive performances. Sophomore Niki Williams was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week after batting .588 with four home runs and 11 RBI to earn her first career national honor while senior Danielle Lawrie was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season and the 12th time in her career, third all-time in conference history.

Williams started the weekend with an RBI double and RBI single in UW's 8-0 win over No. 25 BYU, then helped the Huskies defeat No. 9 Oklahoma, 7-4, launching a three-run home that ended up being the difference. On Saturday, Williams went 4-for-7 in two games against No. 19 Fresno State and Oklahoma State, hitting a solo home run against Bulldogs' All-American pitcher Morgan Melloh in UW's 10-2 win then hitting a two-run shot and adding an RBI single in a 9-4 win over Oklahoma State. She 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. Lawrie, meanwhile, went 4-0 with three wins coming against ranked teams and she also continued her torrid pace at the plate, hitting two more home runs to give her a team-high eight, just two shy of her career best.

Niki Wiliams came to Washington as a heralded recruit out of California and while it took her a little while to get things going, now that she has she appears to be headed for quite a career. Williams made a name for herself at last year's Women's College World Series, belting three home runs and setting Series records for RBI in a game (7) and series (10) while leading the Huskies to the national championship. But it wasn't always that easy.

Williams went into the World Series batting a solid .291 but had hit just two home runs in 51 games. In the 19 games since the World Series started, Williams has hit eight home runs and driven in an incredible 26 runs, batting .434 (23-for-53). She didn't get off to the greatest start this season, going 0-for-7 over the first couple games, but since then Williams has hit safely in a career-best 11 consecutive games, going 19-for-31 (.613) since the funk. With five home runs so far this season, she has already matched her total from her freshman year in which she played 57 games.

Husky fans are seeing the full range of talent they saw glimpses of in a half-season last year from Jenn Salling and they have to like what they see. Salling is off to an incredible start in her first full season with the Dawgs, leading the team with a ridiculous .559 average (19-for-34) and also posting team highs in runs (21) and walks (13). Even more important might be the power and speed back in Salling's game, two things she lacked last year as she worked her way back into playing shape. In 89 at bats last season, Salling failed to hit a home run but she has already blasted three this season, including a grand slam the opening weekend. She is also a perfect 5-for-5 on steal attempts after stealing just two bases in 30 games last year.

Last year, the 2007 All-American had the tough task of joining the Huskies midway through the season in Pac-10 play after sitting out nearly a full year from competition. While she started slowly, going 0-for-12 in her first four games, the shortstop gradually got her timing back and by the time the Huskies needed her most in the NCAA postseason, she was back displaying the skills that made her a First Team All-American as a freshman. Salling went into the postseason with a .146 average (7x48) but went on a tear at the NCAA Regionals in Amherst, Mass., leading the team with a .571 average (8x14). She hit .415 overall in postseason to raise her overall average to .270 and now looks ready to stake her claim to being one of the best hitters in the game.

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