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Husky Softball Notebook: Survival in Vegas

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#1 Washington didn’t bring their best performances to the Rebel Classic, but still emerged 27-0 (and 4-0 on the weekend) after a gritty 9-inning win over NMSU.

Ed Strong

Final scores:

  • Washington 9, NMSU 1 (6 inn)
  • Washington 8, UNLV 0
  • Washington 5, DePaul 2
  • Washington 3, NMSU 2 (9 inn)

The Washington-Portland State matchup on Sunday morning was rained out.Washington rolled in their first two games of the weekend, but were tested in their two on Saturday: mildly by the Blue Demons of DePaul, then a major test from New Mexico State in a rematch. The Huskies prevailed 3-2 in 9 innings on Saturday, a wild game that also marked the latest the Huskies have trailed in a game this year, as NMSU grabbed a 2-0 lead in T4 (a pair of solo homers off of Taran Alvelo) and Washington didn’t tie it up until the bottom of the 5th. Washington has now trailed 4 times this season:

  • 2-0 in B1 vs Texas A&M, tied in T2
  • 1-0 in T1 vs Northwestern, took the lead in B2
  • 1-0 in T4 vs Portland State, took the lead in B4
  • 2-0 in T4 vs New Mexico State, tied in B5

The one thing that has shown itself as at least somewhat of a weakness for Washington is situational hitting with runner on. In the few close games they’ve had this year, particularly the extra-inning games against Texas A&M and NMSU, Washington has had trouble moving runners with productive outs at the occasional times when the hits aren’t coming very often.

Stats and Notes

  • Washington is in the national top 10 in all of the following categories: batting average (3rd), OBP (4th), slugging (2nd), scoring (2nd), HR/Game (5th), doubles/game (T-8th), fielding percentage (6th), and ERA (6th). The only other team with a similar stat line is #10 Georgia, who has faced a considerably easier schedule than UW.
  • Gabbie Plain (0.42) and Taran Alvelo (0.81) are 6th and 19th in the country in ERA, respectively. The only teams with 2 qualifying pitchers in the top 20 are Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia and Washington.
  • Plain has the best ERA of all freshmen, edging out Mary Haff of Arkansas (0.51)
  • Kirstyn Thomas, Sis Bates, and Taylor Van Zee are all in the national top 11 in runs scored.
  • Bates has struck out just twice this season in 90 at-bats. Only two other players that have faced top-30 schedules are better: Janae Jefferson, Texas (0 of 57) and Faith Canfield, Michigan (1 of 86).
  • By winning their first 27 games and having one rained out, Washington is now mathematically assured of a winning record before conference play even starts, the 26th straight season over .500 for the Huskies. There are 26 games left: eight 3-game series against Pac-12 opponents, plus single games vs Bryant and Seattle U.

And my personal favorite:

Pac-12 Rankings & Standings

Rankings listed are the NFCA coaches poll (what I use primarily) and the USA Softball media poll:

#1/1 Washington (27-0)

#3/2 UCLA (24-0)

#9/9 Arizona (21-2)

#13/10 Arizona State (21-2)

#16/16 California (23-3)

#6/6 Oregon (23-4)

Stanford (19-8)

NR/#25 Oregon State (17-9)

NR/RV Utah (14-7)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how Oregon State got ranked in the media poll this week. They’ve been solid, enough to receive a few votes here and there, but nothing great.

Upcoming UW Schedule

It’s finally (almost) time to kick off Pac-12 play! The top-ranked Huskies have a single game at home against Bryant on Wednesday night for the 2nd-to-last non-conference game left on the schedule (UW hosts Seattle U a few weeks from now) before heading to the desert to face #14 Arizona State in a huge Saturday-Sunday-Monday series.

Check back in later this week for a scouting report on the Sun Devils. I’ll be doing a Q&A with Andrew Bell, a beat writer for ASU’s State Press.

Unfortunately, when UW MBB got their NIT bid (yay!), they had to give it a time of 7 PM on Wednesday, which is not so delightful, as that’s the exact same time as the Bryant game. All times listed are in Pacific Daylight Time.

Series at #14 Arizona State

  • Sat, 5 PM (Pac-12 WA/AZ)
  • Sun, 2 PM (Pac-12 WA/AZ)
  • Mon, 2 PM (Pac-12 National/WA/AZ)

Pac-12 Schedule

The first week of conference play is here, and 8 of the 9 teams get started this weekend:

  • #1 Washington at #13 Arizona State (Sat-Mon, listed above)
  • #3 UCLA at #6 Oregon (Fri-Sun)
  • Utah at #9 Arizona (Fri-Sun)
  • #16 California at Oregon State (Fri-Sun)

Stanford has the week off.

Predictions

Oregon hands UCLA not only their first loss of the season, but also their second. Ducks are out for revenge in a scenario eerily similar to last year: Oregon came into Los Angeles undefeated and left with a series dropped. I think the Ducks get their payback.

Arizona sweeps Utah, and 2 of 3 come in routs. Utes have not impressed so far after entering the year as a preseason top-15 team. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have hit their stride after a bit of a rocky start.

Cal takes 2 of 3 at Oregon State. The Golden Bears have a fantastic 1-2 punch of Kamalani Dung and Zoe Conley. But the Bears offense can be quite spotty. Beavers capitalize and get one breakout offensive inning sometime on the weekend, and Cal takes the other 2 games.

I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling the Huskies drop one in Tempe this weekend. Arizona State has been playing really well and it’s their conference home opener. If I had to pick between a sweep or dropping at least two, I’d definitely take a sweep. But I think there’s less than a 50% chance UW comes out undefeated. Then again, I thought there was less than a 50% chance of coming out of Palm Springs undefeated, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯