No. 1 Huskies Set To Host No. 5 UCLA In Pac-10 Opening Showdown
March 30, 2010
No. 1 Washington (28-2) vs. No. 5 UCLA (26-4)
Husky Softball Stadium - Seattle, Wash.
Thursday, April 1 - 6 p.m.
Live stats available via Gametracker and live webcast at GoHuskies.com
Pre-game ceremony honoring 2009 senior class and 2009 National Championship
After one of the most successful non-conference seasons in school history, the No. 1 Washington softball team (28-2) will look to keep the momentum going as Pac-10 play begins this week with a three-game series against No. 5 UCLA (26-4). The series kicks off with the first Pac-10 night game in Husky Softball Stadium history when the two national powers face off Thursday, April 1 at 6 p.m. The teams will face off against Friday at 6 p.m. before a Saturday matinee at Noon. This weekend marks the first week of the new revamped conference schedule, which features a single three-game series against each team during the season. The Huskies and Bruins finished 1-2 in the Pac-10 last year with UCLA edging UW for the title, but the Huskies got the ultimate prize at the end of the season with their first National Championship. This week also kicks off a difficult four-week stretch for UW as they face No. 5 UCLA and No. 2 Arizona in back-to-back weeks before hitting the road to face No 21 Oregon and No. 14 Cal.
CLASS OF 2009 RETURNS!
Thursday's Pac-10 opener will be a special night at Husky Softball Stadium as it is not only the first conference night game in Husky Softball Stadium history, but the seven players who helped make those lights a reality will be back to commemorate the day. The seven seniors from the 2009 National Championship winning team - Alicia Blake, Ashley Charters, Lauren Greer, Marnie Koziol, Dani Stuart, Jessica Ventoza and Ashlyn Watson - will all be present to help officially unveil the National Championship banner in the outfield and will also throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Blake will also sing the national anthem prior to Friday and Saturday's games.
It will be a busy weekend at the ballpark as the Husky Band will be in attendance on Thursday, which is also $1.00 hot dog day. Thursday is also UW Faculty/Staff Day presented by WSECU, with free general admission available for the 6 p.m. game.
LISTEN - OR WATCH - LIVE
The Huskies' final two games this weekend can be seem or heard numerous ways if you can't make it out to the ballpark.The UW's campus television station, UWTV, will air the first of eight live games during the conference season on Friday and will also air Saturday's game live. Former Huskies Angie Mentink and Dena Tyson will call the action for the games all year. The last two games of each Pac-10 series this year will be shown live on UWTV with the games also re-airing on a tape-delayed basis on both UWTV and Fox Sports Northwest. For more information, go to www.uwtv.org/softball.
Additionally, Friday and Saturday's games will air live on the radio, with KIXI 880-AM airing Friday's 6 p.m. contest and KKNW 1150 AM airing Saturday's game, both of which will feature live commentary from Mike Brown and John Cowley. Links for both broadcasts are available at GoHuskies.com. A live webcast with commentary will be available for Thursday's game at GoHuskies.com and Gametracker can be found on GoHuskies.com for the entire weekend of games.
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 had a light weekend in preparation for Pac-10 play, taking part in a doubleheader at Portland State, which they swept with wins of 3-2 and 7-0. After a tight first game which saw UW need to come from behind, the Huskies blew away the Vikings in game two. UW left a season-high 10 runners on base in the first game but were able to escape as sophomore Felecia Harris made her first appearance of the season, coming on in relief to pitch two scoreless innnings to earn the victory. After Danielle Lawrie tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth and Kimi Pohlman plated the go-ahead run in the sixth, Lawrie was brought in to shut the door, retiring the side in order in the seventh to earn her second save this year.
The senior got the start in the second game and allowed just six hits in picking up her 12th shutout of the season to improve to 18-0. This time, UW took advantage of their 14 hits, with Morgan Stuart going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI and Pohlman belting a leadoff home run for her first of the year. Freshman Jerrin Fa'asua added her second of the year and went 2-for-3 with three RBI as UW cruised to the 7-0 win and a 28-2 non-conference record.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS
The Huskies retained the No. 1 spot in both national polls this week, something they have done all eight 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 for the second straight week 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 three weeks.
The Huskies head into Pac-10 play having completed one of the best non-conference slates in school history. With a 28-2 record, the Huskies the reached the third-best 30-game record in school history and also have the second-fewest losses heading into Pac-10 play in UW history. The 2000 team started a program-best 29-1 through 30 games while the 2003 team started 28-1-1. That 2003 team went into conference play with a 31-1-1 record, the best preseason record in school history. Both teams went on to play in the Women's College World Series. Last year's national championship-winning team went into conference play with a 27-3 mark before going 14-7 in Pac-10 for a second-place finish.
As head coach Heather Tarr predicted, the Huskies have been hitting home runs at a high rate this year, belting 43 in 30 games after hitting 51 in 63 games all last year. UW had just 28 home runs through 30 games last season and it took until their 57th game of the season in the NCAA Super Regionals on May 24 to reach the amount they have this year already. The Huskies have hit at least one home run in 23 of 30 games and have 12 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.
2009: 45-11 (NCAA Super Regionals)
Series vs. UW: UCLA leads, 43-22
About UCLA: The Bruins are off to a strong start again in 2010 and come into Seattle riding a 12-game win streak. UCLA is looking for a bit of redemption this year after falling just short of the 2009 College World Series when they were upset by Missouri in the Super Regionals. The Bruins are loaded as usual, led by senior Megan Langenfeld, a dual threat in the circle and at the plate. She sports a conference-leading .561 average with nine home runs and 28 RBI while going 4-1 in the circle with a 1.14 ERA. The Bruins have a solid rotation of pitchers including former Husky Aleah Macon - who is 8-1 with a 0.81 ERA - and junior Donna Kerr, who is 12-1 with a 1.34 ERA. The Bruins have slugged the same number of home runs as the Huskies (43) with Langenfeld belting nine, Andrea Harrison blasting seven and Julie Burney hitting eight to go along with a team-high 32 RBI.
Series History: The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Huskies, 43-22, and have won the season series in each of the last two years. The teams battled last year in a couple close contests, with UCLA winning both games in Los Angeles and the Huskies taking the rubber game of the series in Seattle. In the first game between the teams, Danielle Lawrie and Megan Langenfeld locked in a pitcher's dual for 10 innings before the Bruins broke through for two runs in the bottom of the 11th to steal the victory. Langenfeld allowed just one hit and two base runners in 11 innings, then came back the next day to no-hit UW in a five-inning 11-0 victory. The Huskies would get revenge in Seattle, however, when UW became the first team to defeat Langenfeld in 2009. Lawrie no-hit the Bruins, the first to do so since 1998 - while freshman Kimi Pohlman delivered a three-run double in the 3-0 win.
HUSKIES REPRESENT IN NATIONAL STATS
The Huskies appear highly in national statistical rankings, most notably ranking sixth in fielding percentage (.976) and ninth in both scoring average (6.97/game) and home runs per game (1.43). The Huskies also come in at 11th in slugging percentage (.548) 16th in average (.328) and 18th in ERA (1.70).
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 18-0 record, she has also had a career-year at the plate, already reaching career highs in home runs (11), RBI (40) and runs (21). Glancing at the NCAA statistics, it's easy to see why Lawrie is widely considered the best player in the country. She leads the nation in shutouts (12) and is second in wins (18) and fewest walks per seven innings (0.46). She also ranks seventh in hits per seven innings (3.21), eighth in strikeouts (195), 10th in Ks per seven innings (11.2) and 17th in ERA (0.98). She also ranks high in offensive statistics, coming in at eighth nationally in RBI per game (1.33) and 13th in home runs (11).
HARD TO BEAT
With one more win last weekend, Danielle Lawrie ran her record to 18-0 this season, best in the country. Dating back to last season, she has now won 21 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 21-consecutive victories put her in a tie for 14th 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.