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Duck Hunt complete, Husky softball faces Oklahoma today

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Taran Alvelo was good in the circle as usual, Morganne Flores and Ali Aguilar played great defense, and Kirstyn Thomas blasted a clutch homer late

A look out at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City in between innings.
ESPN

Quick Recap

Taran Alvelo gave up some baserunners over her complete game (5 hits, 3 walks), but was able to work around them, other than an RBI groundout that didn’t really help Oregon in the bottom of the seventh. One really good sign for Taran and the Huskies: Alvelo continues to be able to be effective without large numbers of strikeouts (3 in this game), a big adjustment from last year and early this year. When freshman Taran Alvelo wasn’t racking up close to double-digit strikeouts, she was usually getting hit. TA clearly can still get big strikeout numbers sometimes. But her ability to induce softer contact when her stuff isn’t quite as unhittable has been an extremely valuable development for UW.

Kirstyn Thomas was the offensive star of the game for Washington. KT picked up UW’s first hit when she singled to lead off the third, later scoring on an RBI triple by Sis Bates. But the big blow came in the top of the seventh, as Thomas blasted a 2-run HR to extend the UW lead to 3-1, which came in very handy, as the Ducks picked up 1 run and threatened for more in their final at-bat. This is the second time this year that Kirstyn has had a clutch home run in top 7; a tie-breaking homer in the first of two games in Tuscaloosa gave the Huskies a 3-2 win over Alabama a little over a month ago.

Morganne Flores threw out back-to-back attempted base stealers in the fourth, the second of which wasn’t really even remotely close:

Ali Aguilar’s play on a ball hit up the middle came at a clutch moment when the Ducks had brought the tying run to the plate with nobody out in the seventh. Check this out:

Schedule

There are just 2 games today at the WCWS. Teams that lost yesterday are not eliminated, but would have to win twice tomorrow after being off today. The only teams that play today are teams that won yesterday.

4 PM: (1) Florida vs. (13) LSU

6:30 PM (or 30 min after game 1, whichever is later): (6) Washington vs. (10) Oklahoma

Both games are on ESPN. Having taken out the conference rival Ducks in their first game, Washington now turns its focus to the pseudo-home team: the Oklahoma Sooners. This is all a neutral-site event, but due to it being located in Oklahoma City, just a 30 minute drive from Norman, it’s definitely a pro-Sooners atmosphere. Due to this being a neutral-site event, the team that bats second is rotated throughout the event, so the Huskies should be the “home” team today, as UW batted first against the higher-seeded Ducks and Oklahoma batted second against the lower-seeded Bears in their first games.

What UW and OU are playing for

The loser: not eliminated, but has to play at 6:30 PM again tomorrow. Yesterday’s losing teams, (3) Oregon and (15) Baylor, play at 11:30 AM on Saturday. The loser of that game will be eliminated, and the winner will advance to play the loser of this game later on Saturday night in another elimination game. The advantage, however, is that today’s loser will have a full day of rest in between, whereas the Oregon-Baylor winner will have about 3 hours of rest.

The winner: off until Sunday. The games tomorrow are all elimination games, and whoever wins this game would be 2-0. The 2-0 team gets to sit back and watch as the 1-loss teams knock each other out, then play the survivor on Sunday. Not only that, but whoever makes it through Saturday (record would be 2-1 at that point) would have to beat the 2-0 team twice on Sunday to advance to the championship series.

Oklahoma as a team

The Sooners are the defending national champions, their 3rd title in program history. Oklahoma and Washington played each other on the very first weekend of the season, a 1-0 win by the Huskies over then-#1 OU in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico way back on February 11th.

Record: 57-9, 17-1 Big 12

Common opponents to UW (besides H2H):

  • Beat BYU 7-1 (neutral)
  • Beat Nebraska 6-0 (neutral)
  • Won 2 of 3 vs Auburn: lost 2-3 (neutral), won twice 4-0, 5-2 (road)
  • Beat UCLA 10-1 (neutral)
  • Lost to Arizona 3-4 (neutral)
  • Beat Long Beach State 14-0 (road)
  • Beat UC Santa Barbara 8-1 (neutral)
  • Beat UAB twice: 5-2 (neutral) and 15-0 (home)
  • Won all 4 vs Texas: 3-2, 3-1, and 6-0 (road), plus 3-0 (neutral)
  • Won 3 of 4 vs Baylor: 3-2, 3-4, and 6-0 (home), plus beat them yesterday 6-3

Overall record vs common opponents: 16-3

UW record vs those same opponents: 7-7

Some of Oklahoma’s best performances came against the select few teams UW had trouble with (UCLA, Baylor, BYU).

Projected lineup

  1. RF #11 Nicole Mendes
  2. 2B #20 Caleigh Clifton
  3. 1B #17 Shay Knighten
  4. 3B #2 Sydney Romero
  5. DP #34 Fale Aviu
  6. CF #1 Nicole Pendley
  7. LF #6 Macey Hatfield
  8. C #15 Lea Wodach
  9. SS #3 Kelsey Arnold

Oklahoma’s starter will be a junior left-handed pitcher named Paige. That doesn’t really tell you very much. Paige Parker (#8) and Paige Lowary (#14), Oklahoma’s 1-2 punch, both fit that description. The difference between them, from a pitching standpoint: Lowary throws hard. Really hard. The Mizzou transfer has one of the fastest fastballs in the country, and uses it a lot. Parker isn’t exactly a soft-tosser, either, but relative to Lowary, she is. PP has better control than her teammate. Parker is more experienced, having been with the Sooners for their WCWS run last year, while Lowary was still in Columbia with the Tigers. If Oklahoma makes a pitching change during the game, expect to hear at least one bad pun about a “Paige turner”.