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#5 Husky Softball fights off Texas; reaches Regional Final

5th-seeded Washington won a pitcher’s duel against the Longhorns as Gabbie Plain gave up just 2 hits. Huskies are off until Sunday at 4 PM.

Washington’s Julia DePonte (top) makes a running catch in left field in the 7th inning of a game against Texas on May 19, 2018. Teammates Sis Bates (right), Taylor Van Zee (middle), and Gabbie Plain (bottom) look on)The Huskies won, 2-1
Edward Strong

Sis Bates came up inches short of a leadoff home run that would have given UW the lead in the 7th.

Kirstyn Thomas made sure it didn’t matter.

Thomas laced a double down the left field line on the first pitch she saw two batters later, and Bates cruised home with what proved to be the winning run in a 2-1 victory.

Washington (46-8, 15-8 Pac-12) moves on to the regional final on Sunday at 4 PM. Texas (33-25, 10-8 Big 12) falls to the elimination bracket, facing the winner of Minnesota and Boise State later tonight on ESPN2.

“The seniors had a lot to lose today,” said Head Coach Heather Tarr. “Today could have been the last day they played. To have that check you, and make you realize ‘Stop being so careful’. Go for it’ I think maybe they learned a little bit today.”

Washington missed a huge scoring chance early. Three of the first four hitters walked, interrupted only by a sacrifice bunt by Sis Bates. But starting pitcher Brooke Bolinger got Emma Helm to pop up to second, then Noelle Hee couldn’t hold back on a changeup and went down swinging.

Kaitlyn Washington kept up her hot hitting at the Seattle Regional, giving Texas the first run of the game when she ripped a line drive into the right field corner in the second inning. Malory Schattle walked and took second when Emma Helm couldn’t handle a pitch in the dirt. When Washington got her fourth hit in a row to start the weekend, Schattle raced around third and scored without a play.

That would be the final hit given up by Husky starter Gabbie Plain (18-4), who went the distance to get the win for Washington. The only two baserunners to reach after the second inning both reached on errors, one in the fourth and another in the sixth.

“For us to be able to pull that win out and not play perfect defense says a lot about Gabbie Plain,” said Tarr.

The Huskies got their first hit of the game in the third, as Julia DePonte continued a quietly solid weekend with a 2-out single to left-center. Bolinger went back to her off-speed and got Kirstyn Thomas out in front, flying out to shallow right field.

Bolinger turned away another chance in the fourth. Noelle Hee drew a 1-out walk and was replaced by Amirah Milloy to pinch-run. After Taryn Atlee hit into a fielder’s choice, Trysten Melhart blooped a single into left-center. Fellow slapper Kelly Burdick tried to do the same but got too much of the ball and made it a pretty routine play for KK Hayter in center field.

A pair of doubles evened the score in the fifth. Taylor Van Zee hit one over the head of Hayter in center for a leadoff double, then scored one out later when DePonte hit one to almost the same spot.

Gabbie Plain (18-4) threw a complete game for the win, giving up just two hits, walking one, and fanning six.

Erica Wright (5-5) took the loss for Texas, giving up 3 hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

What’s next

Washington moves on to the regional final, which will be played Sunday at 4 PM, needing just one win and having two attempts to get it, if necessary (game 7 would be played 30 minutes after game 6 if UW loses). Minnesota advanced to face the Huskies by defeating both Boise State and Texas on Saturday.

Texas remained alive after the first loss, but then fell to Minnesota 3-0 in the nightcap. The Longhorns’ season ends at 33-26, 10-8 Big 12.