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Husky Softball Notebook: Power at Last

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Washington pounds nine homers in sweep at Oregon

Morganne Flores has found the pop in her bat.
Washington Athletics/Red Box Pictures

The Huskies have found the light switch.

Power-starved with just eight home runs through their first 27 games, #7/9 Washington has gone off for 14 in their last five, including nine in a three-game sweep of archrival Oregon in Eugene. UW then added three more bombs in a midweek win over Cal Poly, their final non-conference home game of the regular season.

Results:

  • UW 6, Oregon 3 (10 inn.)
  • UW 14, Oregon 2 (5 inn.)
  • UW 8, Oregon 0 (5 inn.)
  • UW 7, Cal Poly 1

For the first time since an ACL tear kept her out for all of 2018, redshirt junior Morganne Flores looked like her sophomore self. Since the final game vs UCLA on March 17, Flores has seven hits, five of them homers, and has walked five times without recording a strikeout. With the top three power hitters in 2018 graduating (LF Julia DePonte, 1B Kirstyn Thomas, and 3B Taylor Van Zee), it seemed through the first several weeks as if Flores was putting too much pressure on herself to be “the run producer” instead of just being herself.

The Huskies also got plenty of power from unexpected sources. Junior OF/1B Kaija Gibson, senior OF Amirah Milloy and freshman OF Sami Reynolds all homered twice against the Ducks. For Reynolds, it marked the first two home runs of her career. Gibson had hit just one total in her first 2.5 years with UW, while Milloy had three in 3.5 years. Seven different Huskies now have at least two home runs (sophomore C Emma Helm has three, while freshman OF Madi Huskey and sophomore 3B/OF Nawai Kaupe have two each).

Pac-12 Standings (Records through 3/28; Rankings are NFCA Coaches/Softball America):

  1. #10/11 Arizona (24-7, 6-0 Pac-12)
  2. #1/1 UCLA (29-1, 3-0)
  3. RV/NR Stanford (23-4, 2-0)
  4. #17/21 Arizona State (25-8, 5-1)
  5. #7/9 Washington (26-6, 3-3)
  6. Utah (13-18, 2-4)
  7. California (20-12, 1-4)
  8. Oregon State (17-10, 1-5)
  9. Oregon (12-16, 0-6)

Around #Pac12SB

  • Arizona State destroyed Utah pitching en route to 43 runs in three games, but needed every one of those runs to finish the sweep on Sunday in Tempe. The Devils won easily in the first two games (13-0 and 14-4) but trailed by eight runs on two separate occasions in the finale, as late as the seventh inning. With runners at second and third and two outs in the seventh, ASU still trailed 17-10 before seven straight batters reached base, capped by a walk-off three-run triple by Ali Tatnall to win 18-17. Junior twins Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth combined to hit five homers in the wild game three.
  • Revitalized Stanford won a Pac-12 series for the first time since 2013, sweeping an abbreviated two-game series from rival Cal in Berkeley. Head Coach Jessica Allister, who led Minnesota to unprecedented heights up through the 2017 season, has turned the Pac-12’s punching bag into a solid team receiving significant top-25 attention. The Cardinal cruised to a 9-3 win on Saturday and won a back-and-forth 11-10 game on Sunday. Stanford led 2-0 in the early stages of Monday’s scheduled game before it was halted by rain, wiping that game out (oddly, despite the schools being in the same metro area and seven weeks remaining in the season, no effort was made to find another time to finish the game).
  • The Wildcats went relatively unchallenged for the second week in a row, sweeping the Beavers in Corvallis. Arizona remains the only team in the country with three double-digit home run totals, led by national #2 Jessie Harper with 17. But the biggest development for UA is on the pitching side. Last year, with longtime ace Danielle O’Toole having graduated, then-junior Taylor McQuillan was forced to throw the vast majority of the innings in conference play. Although she was good, she was not as fresh as she could have been, and the Cats finished outside of the top 10 for the first time in a while as a result. Junior Alyssa Denham and four other pitchers have combined to lessen McQuillan’s workload to slightly under half of the total innings, and Denham had the best start of her career on Sunday, no-hitting OSU in a 4-0 win.

Upcoming Schedule (all series run Fri-Sun)

  • California at #1/1 UCLA
  • Oregon at RV/NR Stanford
  • #17/21 Arizona State at #10/11 Arizona
  • Oregon State at #7/9 Washington

Utah is off from conference play this week. The Utes host a non-conference doubleheader against #2/2 Oklahoma on Sunday that probably isn’t going to be very pretty for the hosts.

Beavers-Huskies

  • Fri, 5 p.m. (Pac-12 WA/OR)
  • Sat, 5 p.m. (Pac-12 WA/OR)
  • Sun, noon (Pac-12 WA/OR)

While #7 Washington hosts Oregon State softball, nearly the exact opposite will be happening a couple of blocks away. Husky baseball (14-6, 5-1 Pac-12), which is receiving top-25 votes, has a chance for marquee wins as they host seventh-ranked Oregon State (16-5-1, 3-3). The game times are staggered, and will similarly be broadcast on Pac-12 Network as UW looks for a big weekend of beating the Beavers. It also will likely mean much larger than normal crowds for OSU softball in Seattle, as Beaver baseball fans travel extremely well.

*Baseball* schedule

  • Fri, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 WA/OR)
  • Sat, 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Net/WA/OR)
  • Sun, 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Net/WA/OR)