The highly-anticipated series for the Husky softball team in Tucson unfortunately did not live up to the hype. If not for a two-out, two-run, seventh inning homer in game 3 by Kirstyn Thomas, the Huskies would have been shut out for the entire series. Arizona ended up sweeping the series 3-0, 12-0, and 5-2.
That dropped the Huskies to #8 in the NFCA poll coming into this week, as they hosted the 13th-ranked UCLA Bruins. Game one (and the first half of game two) against UCLA looked eerily like the Arizona series. The Bruins took game one, 6-2, and led the second game 6-0 after the top of the fifth.
The normally-explosive Huskies offense had been dormant during most of this losing stretch. Just 4 runs scored in 30 innings since the first game in Tucson. The Huskies managed to match that in each of the next two innings. CF Kelly Burdick walked, took second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a groundout before freshman Kaija Gibson drove her in with an RBI single. After Morganne Flores drew a walk, Junior 3B Taylor Van Zee blasted a three-run bomb to center to cut the Bruins’ lead to two.
A two-run double and an RBI single by UCLA in the top of the sixth extended the lead back to 5, but the UW bats kept grinding. After loading the bases with two outs, Flores drove in two with a single, and both Van Zee and Thomas singled to put the Huskies within a run before UCLA got out of the inning.
Junior pitcher Madi Schreyer, who had started the game before being relieved by Samantha Manti, re-entered in the top of the seventh and kept the momentum for the Huskies by putting the Bruins down in order. Everything seemed to set up perfectly for the Huskies as, with one out, they strung together back-to-back-to-back infield singles by Trysten Melhart, Burdick, and senior star Ali Aguilar to load the bases. Melhart represented the tying run at third and Burdick, the winning run at second. The Dawgs couldn’t quite finish the comeback, but the offense had confidence to build on, and in game three, they did just that.
In game three, the Huskies exploded for a season-high 17 hits and had 25 batters reach base (6 walks, 2 HBP) on their way to a 12-7 victory. Aguilar and senior LF Casey Stangel were both outstanding, each homering twice and combining for a stat line that just looks silly:
One cheer for Morganne Flores, who, after opening the series 0 for 4, reached base in 7 of her 9 plate appearances in the final two games, drawing a remarkable five walks along the way. Flores gets the nod here in part due to the ridiculous diving tag she made in game one to save a run. Take a look at the highlight; Stangel fires in a rope from left field, but the throw is to the first base side of home, so Flores makes the catch and lunges back across her body to get the tag on the sliding UCLA runner. This athleticism from a catcher is remarkable.
Two cheers for Ali Aguilar who had hits in the first two games and besieged the UCLA pitchers in game three, going 5/11 with 4 RBI and 5 runs scored on the weekend.
Three cheers for 1B/DP Kirstyn Thomas who piled up hits all weekend long.
1/3, RBI, BB
2/4, R, BB, SB (and the stolen base was of home on a delayed steal after Melhart took second!)
New Rankings & Standings
Early in Pac-12 play, parity has been...MIA. 10 of the 12 #Pac12SB series completed have resulted in sweeps, with only the UW-UCLA series (2-1 Bruins) and ASU-OSU (2-1 Devils) giving each team at least one win. Your current standings, with rankings and records as of Tuesday, April 4th:
#4 Arizona (37-1, 9-0 Pac-12)
#2 Oregon (33-0, 8-0 Pac-12)
#15 Utah (24-7, 6-2 Pac-12)
#10 Washington (27-8, 4-5 Pac-12)
#9 UCLA (26-9, 2-4 Pac-12)
(RV) California (21-11, 3-6 Pac-12)
#23 Arizona State (23-12, 2-7 Pac-12)
Oregon State (18-15, 1-5 Pac-12)
Stanford (16-16, 0-6 Pac-12)
The Huskies fell two spots, but remain in the top 10, where they have been since the poll after week 1 (13th in preseason). The Dawgs host the Beavers this weekend, but after that, they won’t play at home for almost a month, with conference road trips to Eugene and Berkeley, separated by a premier non-conference trip to Alabama to take on the 12th-ranked Crimson Tide in a few weeks. All of these are three-game series and run Friday through Sunday:
#2 Oregon (33-0, 8-0) at #9 UCLA (26-9, 2-4)
Stanford (16-16, 0-6) at #4 Arizona (37-1, 9-0)
(RV) California (21-11, 3-6) at #15 Utah (24-7, 6-2)
Oregon State (18-15, 1-5) at #10 Washington (27-8, 4-5)
The schedule for the Huskies and Beavers is as follows:
Friday, 4/7 at 5 PM (P12 Net/WA/OR)
Saturday, 4/8 at 3 PM (P12 WA/OR only - not on overall P12 Net)
Sunday, 4/9 at 5 PM (P12 Net/WA/OR)
Thanks for reading! If you like getting in the moment updates from various Huskies non-revenue sports, and don’t mind getting some Mariners tweets too, you can find me on Twitter @DawgoneCrazy.