OKLAHOMA CITY — The University of Washington is making a habit of heart-stopping games at this year’s Women’s College World Series.
After opening with a walk-off homer to beat Nebraska on Thursday, the Huskies had the tables turned on them Saturday, falling to Tennessee, 1-0, on walk-off single in the seventh inning at Hall of Fame Stadium.
The loss ruined a stellar pitching performance by Kaitlin Inglesby and dropped UW into the tournament’s losers’ bracket, where it will play at 12:30 p.m. Sunday against the winner of Saturday’s late game between Arizona State and Michigan.
“We are going to take it one game at a time,” Inglesby said. “Tomorrow is a new day, and we have to face whoever shows up in the dugout. When we come
and play Husky softball and have clutch hitting and a great pitching performance, we can compete with anybody in the country.”
Washington’s defense had been strong throughout the game. But in the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Jennie McNeill was unable to throw out leadoff batter Cheyanne Tarango, who beat out an infield single. Two batters later, Inglesby walked pinch-hitter Rainey Gaffin. The next batter, Hannah Akamine, hit a line drive to Inglesby, who was able to snatch it out of the air for an out. But as she tried to double up Gaffin at first, the ball got away from first baseman Hooch Fagaly allowing pinch-runner Whitney Hammond to take third.
With two outs, UW (44-16) needed one more out to send the game into extra innings. But the Vols’ Tory Lewis had others ideas. She smashed a single up the middle that brought Hammond home for the winning run.
“They just told me we needed to score this run and everybody needed to be safe,” Lewis said. “I just started celebrating before I got to first base. And Coach Marc (Weekly) at first base was like, ‘Touch the base, touch the base.’ It felt amazing. So it’s exciting.”
Tennessee will play at 4 p.m. Sunday against the winner of Sunday morning’s Florida-Texas game. The Vols (51-10) are coached by Ralph and Karen Weekly, who were co-coaches at Pacific Lutheran (1986-94) before taking over the Tennessee program.
“Karen is a graduate of Washington Law School,” Ralph Weekly said. “My son, John, is a graduate of the University of Washington. This is a school that we really care about.”
Ellen Renfroe (19-4) threw a shutout, allowing two hits and striking out 10 Huskies.
Inglesby almost matched Renfroe, allowing one run, nine hits and striking out three. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a lineup full of cold bats.
“I thought Kaitlin Inglesby threw a great game and threw obviously well enough for us to win,” Washington coach Heather Tarr said. “Unfortunately, offensively we couldn’t string anything together.”
The Vols’ constant attack on Inglesby seemed close to paying off in the bottom of the fourth, when they put runners on the corners with one out. Melissa Brown hit a fly ball to shallow left field and Whitney Jones dropped it. However, she reached it quickly and was able to throw out Akamine at home plate. Tennessee still managed to load the bases for third time in four innings, but Inglesby struck out Madison Shipman to end the threat.
Renfroe retired the Huskies in order in the top of the seventh to give Tennessee the chance win it.
“We think we played well,” Tarr said. “So the fact that we didn’t win shouldn’t get us down. We get to play again and we don’t have to wait to play. So hopefully we’ll play tomorrow and the weather will be fine.”