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Softball opens postseason with 3-0 whitewash of Portland State

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Huskies have recorded back-to-back shutouts since disastrous doubleheader on May 14 at Stanford.

Gabbie Plain picked up her 30th win of the season by blanking the Vikings
Red Box Pictures via UW Athletics

Gabbie Plain carried a perfect game bid into the fifth inning, finishing with a two-hitter as 16th-seeded Washington knocked off Portland State 3-0 in their first game at the NCAA Softball Seattle Regional.

It looked like UW might be off to a hot start early when Sis Bates singled and scored one out later when Morganne Flores hit a sharp grounder into past 2B Maddie Thompson that rolled all the way to the wall. But the Huskies weren’t able to muster all that much against PSU redshirt freshman Olivia Grey (8-7), who allowed just three runs (two earned) in six innings. It’s the fifth straight game that UW has scored four runs or fewer, which is a very bad omen as the Huskies head deeper into the postseason — most likely, every game UW plays after Friday’s opener will be against top-20 opponents (or better).

Part of Grey’s success was due to one teammate in particular — senior 3B Ariana Abalos made multiple spectacular plays to snuff out possible UW scoring threats, including back-to-back nearly identical plays in the first: diving stop of a sharp grounder to her left, then fires from her knees in time to get the batter at first. In the third, Flores batted with runners on first and second and one out, but her grounder took Abalos to the bag to start a clutch 5-3 double play.

The one real threat for PSU came in the fifth. Plain had retired the first 14 batters in a row before briefly losing the strike zone and walking Tayler Gunesch with two outs in the fifth, then an excuse-me swing by Olivia Dean resulted in the Vikings’ first hit, a 10-foot dribbler up the third base line. With the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first, Plain leaned on something she rarely does, reaching back for a little extra to power three quick strikes past the defensive star of the game to retire Abalos and end the PSU threat.

The Huskies finally added to the lead in the fifth. Jadelyn Allchin drew a one-out walk, then was replaced at first by Bates on a fielder’s choice for the second out. Baylee Klingler made what was probably UW’s best contact of the day, driving a double off the base of the wall in right-center, allowing Bates to score standing.

Flores followed that with a sharp single that got to RF Marissa Bruno much too quickly for Klingler to score from second, but the Huskies would get her in anyway. Megan Vandegrift pinch-ran for Flores and stole second. Rachel Menlove’s throw wasn’t going to be in time anyway, but Dean had it go off her glove and allowed Klingler to score the game’s final run.

One strike from defeat in the top of the seventh, Emily Johansen picked up the second hit of the game for the Vikings after a lengthy at-bat, but Plain induced a groundout from Gunesch to Bates at short to end it without the tying run coming to the plate, improving her record on the year to 30-2.

Washington (42-11) advances to the winner’s bracket and will face Michigan (37-6) Saturday at 3pm PT. That game will at least be televised on ESPN2.

Portland State (15-25) falls to the elimination bracket and will face Seattle U (29-20) in the first elimination game of the regional at roughly 5:30pm Saturday (30 min after Michigan/Washington). The winner of PSU/SU will then face the loser of UW/UM in elimination game #2 30 minutes after Portland State/Seattle. Both of the later games will only be available online through ESPN3.