(story courtesy of gohuskies.com)
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Washington softball team’s 2010 season came to an end Saturday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium as the Huskies lost a Women’s College World Series elimination game to Arizona, 4-3.
The third-seeded Huskies (50-9), who won their first NCAA softball title last year, hadn’t lost back-to-back games since April of 2009. Washington fell to Georgia in its first WCWS game Thursday night.
Tenth-seeded Arizona (49-12) advances to play No. 16 seed Hawai’i Saturday night. The winner of that game will need to beat Tennessee twice on Sunday to advance to the best-of-three championship series.
Down 4-2 entering the ninth, the Huskies rallied to score one run on a Taylor Smith triple and a sacrifice fly from Jenn Salling, but couldn’t push across the tying run.
Two-time National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie (40-5) saw her record-breaking career come to a close in the loss. The senior from Langley, B.C., pitched a complete game, allowing four runs (only one of them earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out 12.
Arizona freshman Kenzie Fowler (35-7) pitched a complete game for the victory. She gave up three runs (only one earned) on seven hits while striking out eight and walking two.
“Obviously it’s a tough one,” Lawrie said afterward. “I think the biggest thing that I’ll take from it is that I’m just proud to say that I went to the University of Washington. I helped them go to their first national championship. I was just a part of something that’s very unique and I’m leaving at peace. I’m okay with it. I mean, obviously I’m upset, but the stress that I’ve been putting on myself lately — I wanted to win, but right now I’m at peace and I’m happy. I’m disappointed we lost, but at the end of the day it was a good five years.”
Lawrie struck out two of three in the first inning, with the other out coming on a runner caught trying to steal second base. Then, she struck out the side in order in the second and fanned the first two in the third before the Wildcats broke through.
With two outs and none on, Karissa Buchanan reached on an infield single to shortstop. Brittany Lastrapes followed by blooping a single into shallow right, just out of the reach of UW second baseman Amanda Fleischman. Then, Lauren Schutzler bounced a ball to third and the throw to first was a little late, allowing Buchanan to score.
The inning remained alive as a grounder to second from K’Lee Arredondo was mishandled, allowing Lastrapes to score, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 edge.
Washington got close to scoring in the bottom of the third. Flesichman, who had seemingly grounded out to shortstop, was given new life when the pitch was ruled illegal, and then hit the next pitch through the left side for a single. After moving to second on a bunt, she tried to score on a single from Kimi Pohlman, was but thrown out at the plate on a close call that elicited a lengthy argument between the umpires and Husky coaches.
In the fourth, another illegal pitch benefited the Huskies, this one in a bigger way. With pinch runner Maggie Wagner at first, Shawna Wright hit a fly ball to right. Wagner, who was running on the pitch to steal, was easily doubled up at first base, but an illegal pitch had been called, nullifying the entire play and putting Wagner at second. Wright struck out, but Niki Williams singled to drive in Wagner with the Huskies’ first run, cutting the Arizona lead to 2-1.
Arizona got that run back in the top of the fifth. With two outs and a runner at first, Schutzler reached on an error and Arredondo followed with a line-drive single to right, pushing across the ‘Cats’ second unearned run of the day and giving them a 3-1 lead.
More controversy followed in the fifth. With Jenn Salling aboard at second on a double, Pohlman reached on a fielder’s choice, but Salling was called out at third after having been ruled to be off the base with the ball back in the pitching circle. Another long argument ensued, and the umpires even gathered separately to discuss the matter, but the call stood.
In the sixth, the Huskies got back to within a run. With runners at first and second and one out, Hooch Fagaly flied out to right field and both runners tried to advance on the deep flyout. The throw to second to try and get Williams got past the fielder there, but was well backed up by left fielder Lastrapes, who was just behind third base. Lawrie, the runner who started the play at second, headed home and it looked as though she’d be out easily, but the throw sailed high, allowing Lawrie to score, cutting the Arizona lead to 3-2.
However, another two-out rally and the third Husky error of the game led to another unearned run for the Wildcats in the top of the seventh. After two quick outs, Arizona got two aboard on an error at third base and an infield single. Arredondo came through once more, singling through the right side to drive in pinch runner Becca Tikey, making it a 4-2 Wildcats lead.
In the seventh, there were more unusual happenings. Taylor Smith, leading off the inning popped out to the pitcher, but another illegal pitch was called. Then, a foul pop to the catcher was dropped, giving her new life for the second time. Smith then laced a triple to center to bring the tying run to the plate.
After a strikeout, Jenn Salling brought home pinch runner Alyson McWherter with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.