Semifinal Sunday, here we are. The Huskies advanced to the “Final Four” of the WCWS by beating UCLA 1-0 in an elimination game last night to move on to today against the top-seeded Gators. The Huskies will be the “home” team for the first game (10 AM, ESPN) and would the “road” team for the if-necessary game (4 PM, ESPN).
How the Huskies can do it: Pretty simple instructions, honestly. Taran Alvelo has to be as good as last night, and somehow the Huskies have to scratch across a run. Florida’ pitching staff is the best in the country, by a wide margin. But their offense, despite the impressive showing they’ve put up at the WCWS so far (8 vs A&M, 7 vs LSU), is still probably the least dangerous offense in the field of 8 teams. If Alvelo can throw a 2-hit shutout of UCLA, one of the top offenses in the country, she is definitely capable of shutting out Florida.
Now, the scratching across a run part is a bit more complicated. Kelly Barnhill is not only an elite pitcher, but a strikeout artist, piling up huge numbers of punchouts. You’re pretty much not going to pile up multiple hits in a row off of Barnhill. There are basically two ways I can see the Huskies getting a run:
A) Solo home run
B) Get a baserunner early in an inning, then force the Gators to make solid plays on the infield with sacrifice bunts and hope for a mistake.
It sounds kind of lame, but avoiding strikeouts is the key for Washington. Put the ball in play, and a few of them are bound to find holes. You cannot let KB get on a roll and rack up double-digit strikeouts.