No. 1 Huskies Head To Portland For Final Non-Conference Games
March 24, 2010
Saturday, March 27
Erv Lind Stadium - Portland, Ore.
#1 Washington (26-2) vs. Portland State (10-17), 1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Live Stats & Live Audio: click here
After six weeks of tournament play to open the 2010 season, the No. 1 Washington softball team (26-2) plays a doubleheader this Saturday, March 27 at 1 and 3 p.m. at Portland State before embarking on Pac-10 play next week. The Huskies head into the weekend with the second-best 28-game start in program, trailing only the 2000 team, which started 27-1. UW and Portland State have already played each other once this season, with UW coming away with a 5-0 win in the Husky Softball Classic. The teams will play a pair of games Saturday at Erv Lind Stadium in Portland in the final weekend of non-conference play for both teams.
Live stats will be available via the Portland State website and can be also found on GoHuskies.com. Additionally, the Vikings will have a live radio broadcast available, with links available on both school's softball schedule pages.
BECOME A HUSKY FAN ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER
Fans can follow the Husky softball team and receive updates throughout the season on the UW Softball Twitter page by logging on to www.twitter.com/UWSoftball. Head coach Heather Tarr and National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie have their own Twitter accounts as well and fans can follow them at www.twitter.com/CoachTarr and www.twitter.com/daniellelawrie5.
The Huskies were named co-champions of the prestigious Judi Garman Classic, tying No. 2/3 Michigan with a 4-1 record over the weekend. The Huskies did have their 18-game winning streak snapped by DePaul, but UW won their other four games in convincing fashion, taking all their victories in either five or six innings due to the mercy rule. The weekend turned into the Taylor Smith show when the sophomore got the starting nod in the final two games and made history by hitting four home runs in the two games and driving in 13 runs, including a two-grand slam game on Sunday, becoming the first Husky to ever hit two in a game and also tying the single-game record with eight RBI. This was on the heels of her first career two-homer game on Saturday when she went 3-for-3 with a pair of two-run shots and five RBI. Smith's efforts backed Danielle Lawrie, who went 3-0 over the weekend with two more shutouts to give her 11 this year and improve her record to 17-0. Lawrie also hit two more home runs over the weekend to give her 11 on the year in addition to 39 RBI, both of which would have led the team last year.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS
The Huskies retained the No. 1 spot in both national polls this week, something they have done all seven weeks of the season since the preseason polls were released. They are the unanimous No. 1 selection in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 and received 29 of 30 first-place votes in the NFCA 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 ESPN.com/USA 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. Six of the eight Pac-10 teams are in the nation's top 15 (Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA) while Oregon has jumped into the rankings over the last two weeks.
SCOUTING PORTLAND STATE
2009: 29-26 - NCAA Regionals
Series vs. UW: Washington leads, 35-1
About Portland State: The Vikings are struggling a bit to start the season but they have faced some tough competition, with seven of their losses coming against Pac-10 teams. PSU is coming off its second Pacfic Coast Softball Conference title in four years and an NCAA Tournament berth last year but lost five first team all-conference players to graduation, including co-PCSC Player of the Year Jackie Heide. Portland State does return junior RHP Nichole Latham, last season's PCSC Pitcher of the Year, and senior RHP Tori Rogers, a second team All-PCSC honoree a year ago. Brandi Scoggins leads the offense with a .346 average and has also drive in 10 runs while Danielle Lynn leads the team with three home runs and 15 RBI. Anna Bertrand has been the Vikings' ace, going 7-5 with a 1.91 ERA in 16 appearances.
Series History: The Huskies have dominated the series between the Northwest rivals, but the Vikings have closed the gap slightly over the years. After UW won the first 32 games in the series, PSU got its first win against UW in the 2008 Husky Softball Classic when they earned a 4-2 victory. UW took back control of the series last year in the tourney with wins of 11-1 and 8-2 and they won a meeting earlier this season in the Husky Softball Classic, 5-0.
NO AVERAGE SMITH ANYMORE
With a name like Smith, it's easy to blend in but Taylor Smith did anything but last week, making a name for herself with a record-setting weekend in the Husky Softball Classic. A part-time starter in the outfield or at DP for the Huskies, Smith's weekend got off to a slow start as she went 0-for-2 in a pair of pinch hitting appearances in the first three games. But head coach Heather Tarr penciled Smith's name into the starting lineup on Saturday against Utah and Smith made the most of her opportunity. The sophomore had what was at that point a career day, going 3-for-3 with a pair of two-run home runs and a career-high five RBI. It marked her first career three-hit game, first two-home run game and the five RBI were easily a career best.
As if that were impressive enough, Smith exploded on Sunday for two grand slams, one in the fourth inning and another in the sixth, to tie the UW school record for RBI in a single game with eight, a record set back in 1993, the first year of the program. She became the first Husky to ever connect for two grand slams in a game and her 13 RBI in two games is also a record. For her efforts, Smith was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and probably would have been the National Player of the Week if not for Stanford pitcher Tegan Gearhart throwing three consecutive no-hitters. Despite starting just eight of 28 games this year, Smith is fifth on the team in home runs (5) and RBI (15) and is slugging a team-best .857.
The Huskies' 18-game winning streak was snapped last week at the Judi Garman Classic but it will go down as the fourth-longest win streak in school history. This year's streak trailed only the 19-game win streaks of last year's national championship-winning team as well as the 1996 team which finished second in the nation and the 2000 team, which won 23 in a row early in the season, getting off to a 32-1 start, the best in school history.
As head coach Heather Tarr predicted, the Huskies have been hitting home runs at a high rate this year, belting 41 in 28 games after hitting 51 in 63 games last year. UW had just 27 home runs through 28 games last season and it took until their 56th game of the season in the NCAA Super Regionals on May 23 to reach the amount they have this year already. The Huskies have hit at least one home run in 22 of 28 games and have 11 multi-home run games after just 14 all last year. In fact, the Huskies have hit three or more home runs eight times this year, something they did just twice all last year.
The reigning National Player of the Year, Danielle Lawrie, is doing everything she can to prove she should retain that title at the end of the 2010 season. Not only is Lawrie off to a perfect start in the circle with a 17-0 record, she has also had a career-year at the plate, already reaching career highs in home runs (11), RBI (39) and runs (21).
With NCAA statistics coming out this week for the first time this season, it's easy to see why Lawrie is widely considered the best player in the country. She leads the nation in wins (17) and shutouts (11), is second in fewest walks per seven innings (0.50), sixth in strikeouts (183) and ninth in hits per seven innings (3.10). She also ranks high in offensive statistics, coming in at sixth nationally in RBI per game (1.39) and eighth in home runs (11).
HUSKIES REPRESENT IN NATIONAL STATS
Danielle Lawrie isn't the only Husky to appear among the national leaders when the NCAA released its statistics Tuesday. Jenn Salling, Kimi Pohlman and Niki Williams all appear throughout the rankings after their fast starts. Salling ranks third in the country in runs per game, scoring 1.32 runs a game. She also ranks 24th in on base percentage (.540), 38th in average (.432) and 43rd in slugging percentage (.778). Pohlman, meanwhile, ranks tied for seventh with four triples.
The Huskies as a team also rank highly in the national rankings, most notably ranking ninth in both scoring average, tallying 7.1 runs per game, and fielding percentage, where they have fielded their positions cleanly at a .976 percentage rate. The Huskies also come in at 10th in slugging percentage (.552), 11th in home runs per game (1.46), 21st in team batting average (.324) and 26th in earned run average (1.80).
HARD TO BEAT
With three more wins last weekend, Danielle Lawrie ran her record to 17-0 this season, best in the country. Dating back to last season, she has now won 20 consecutive games since a semifinal loss to Georgia that put the Huskies on the brink of elimination. Instead, she defeated Georgia that night then swept the Florida Gators in the championship series and now has been unbeatable this year. Lawrie's 20-consecutive victories put her in a tie for 17th in NCAA history for most consecutive wins. Arizona's Jennie Finch holds the record that may never be broken, winning 60 consecutive games over three seasons, including a perfect 32-0 record in 2001.
With all the focus on her pitching in the past, Lawrie is now starting to get some attention for her bat. She's off to a blistering start at the plate this year, belting a team-high 11 home runs and driving in 39 runs, both of which would have led the team last year as Ashlyn Watson led the team with 11 home runs and Morgan Stuart with 37 RBI in 63 games. Lawrie has already surpassed her previous career-highs of 10 home runs set in 2007 and 31 RBI last year. Lawrie now has 30 home runs in her career, moving her into sole possession of seventh in Husky history. She also drove in eight runs last weekend to give her 102 in her career, the 17th player in UW history to reach the century mark.
WRIGHT HITS AT THE RIGHT TIME
Freshman Shawna Wright has shown a knack for getting her hits when it means the most. The rookie, who hit a game-winning, pinch-hit home run for her first career hit, has more RBI (26) than hits (23) with her 26 RBI tying for third on the team. The more runners are on base, the better Wright gets as she is hitting just .259 with the bases empty, .302 with runners on base and .333 with the bases loaded. She is also batting .400 (4-for-10) with a runner on third and less than two outs. She had another four RBI and belted her seventh home run of the season in last week's Judi Garman Classic, showing the freshman is well-adjusted to the college game.
Where Wright has been equally as impressive has been behind the plate, where she's been working well with Danielle Lawrie and has been tough to run on. Last week, Wright gunned down Purdue's Lianne Horiuchi, who had stolen 63 consecutive bases, the longest active streak and the fifth-longest in NCAA history. The freshman has caught six of 14 would-be base stealers and has also picked two runners off the bases.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
While Morgan Stuart's stats may not indicate she's off to the best start this season, the junior is finding ways to contribute and help her team win games. As always Stuart is leading the team in times hit by a pitch, getting plunked seven times this year. Stuart has now been hit by a pitch 25 times in her career, just four shy of breaking into the NCAA's all-time top-25. Stuart is also tied for the team lead in doubles (4) and is third in walks (8) along with playing solid defense at the hot corner.
STENSON STEPPING UP
After starting her senior season off a little slowly, going just 1-for-13 over the first 11 games, Bailey Stenson went on a tear over a two-week span to get herself back in the starting lineup. Things started to turn around for Stenson in the Bank of Hawaii Invitational when she had a pair of multi-hit games - including one in which she had two hits in one inning - and batted .400 with three runs and three RBI. Stenson continued her hot hitting in the Husky Softball Classic, going 5-for-13 with three runs, an RBI and two stolen bases. She now ranks fifth on the team in average (.295) and is third in stolen bases with five in six attempts. Since her 1-for-13 stretch, Stenson is hitting .387 (12-for-31) to raise her average from .077 to .295.
HARRIS A TRUSTY NO. 2
Last year, the Huskies had to rely on Danielle Lawrie to throw most of the innings throughout the course of the season but it appears they now have a solid No. 2 in freshman Baily Harris to help take some innings away from the senior. Harris has been getting stronger as the season rolls on, winning seven consecutive starts recently and she sits at 9-2 with a rapidly-declining ERA of 2.57. After a tough outing against Oklahoma State put her ERA at a season high 4.20, Harris saw it drop in each of her seven-straight wins, starting with a six-inning, four-hit performance against UC Davis. She then threw her first career shutout in a five-inning victory over Seattle U before having a stellar weekend in the Husky Softball Classic. She went 3-0 with three seven-inning complete games (the first of her career), allowing just five hits and one walk in a 5-1 win over Seattle.
Harris is not a strikeout pitcher, as evidenced by her 15 Ks in 60.0 innings, but she lets her stellar defense to the work. The Huskies lead the Pac-10 with a .976 fielding percentage, which ranks ninth in the country. More importantly is that Danielle Lawrie's arm is getting some much-needed rest. Lawrie threw 131.0 innings through 28 games last year while she's down to 113.0 innings this year, almost three fewer games at this point.