Oklahoma City – Unlike their meeting in the regular season, it didn’t take long for the Huskies to break through in the scoring column against the Florida Gators.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time than the first game of the best-of-three championship series at the Women’s College World Series, as the Huskies ran away to an 8-0 victory at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
UW edged the Gators, 1-0, in nine innings on Feb. 20 at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Monday night’s game was their first meeting in the WCWS.
“I thought offensively we came out ready to go,” said UW coach Heather Tarr, who has directed the Huskies (50-12) to their first championship series in the current format.
Against senior Stacey Nelson (41-4), the Gators’ all-time winningest pitcher with 111 career victories, the Huskies demonstrated why they are the best-hitting team in the WCWS.
Washington scored six runs in five innings against Nelson, the most she allowed in one game this season.
After struggling to drive in runners in the early going, the Huskies finally got on the board in the third inning.
Jenn Salling, stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs, bounced a two-run single through the middle, Ashley Charters scored the second run by sliding away from the tag of Gators catcher Kristina Hilberth.
When Hilberth tried to throw out Salling, who was taking second on the throw home, the ball sailed and rolled all the way to the center-field wall while both Pohlman and Salling scored.
“Coming off the high from the night before, it definitely showed,” said Gators coach Tim Walton. “We didn’t have any energy or fight at the plate. Our defense wasn’t very good and we didn’t pitch very well.”
That early cushion was more than enough for Danielle Lawrie (41-8), who notched her 45th complete game of the season to stretch her Pacific-10 Conference record.
She credited her two-hitter outing to her battery-mate, Alicia Blake, a senior from Yelm High School. Lawrie referred to Blake as her seeing-eye dog while calling the pitches.
“Alicia (Blake) did a really great job. I think I shook her off … I don’t even think I did. So that just shows you how lucky I am to have a catcher like her,” said Lawrie.
“With her experience, what was important was getting on the same page with her early and knowing what we want to do to the hitters,” said Blake. “Also, allowing ourselves to trust each other.”
The Huskies padded their lead with two runs in the fifth and two in the sixth, scoring all of them with two outs.
In the sixth, Morgan Stuart pounded a two-run double to center. The next inning, Charters completed a perfect night at the plate with a line drive home run to right. Charters went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.
The Huskies are one game away from their first national championship heading into tonight’s second game, which is at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
Washington (50-12) vs. Florida (63-4) in Oklahoma City, 5 p.m., ESPN2 (Huskies lead series, 1-0)