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Softball Into Top Five After 4-1 Trip to Clearwater

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Klingler homers four times as UW picks up ranked wins vs Tennessee, LSU, and OK State

Junior Brooke Nelson slammed the door in a back-and-forth top-10 battle vs Oklahoma State
Red Box Pictures via UW Athletics

Washington (9-1) ran their season-opening win streak to nine before falling in the finale of the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational, coming out with an excellent 4-1 weekend and three quality wins.

Results

  • UW 11, #18 Tennessee 0
  • UW 9, #21 LSU 4
  • UW 1, Texas Tech 0
  • UW 7, #7 OK State 6
  • #15 Clemson 2, UW 0

The game on Saturday against the Cowgirls was something else. It marked just the second time this year that UW had trailed, as a brief 2-0 lead in the top of the third flipped to a 3-2 deficit in the bottom. What could have been a big crooked number in the top of the fifth for UW instead ended up as a goose egg, with no runs scoring despite four baserunners because of Baylee Klingler getting picked off at second (pretty much her only mistake of the weekend, to be fair). OK State added another run in the bottom of the fifth and threatened for more, settling for extending their lead to 4-2.

The Huskies got a big break with one out in the top of the sixth as pinch-hitter Angie Yellen (the least-used of the four true freshmen) reached safely on a pretty routine grounder that 3B Sydney Pennington threw away. With two outs, Klingler and Fiedler ripped back-to-back line drive hits, with Klingler scoring to tie the game after knocking in Yellen.

That tie didn’t last very long. Each of the first four Cowgirls to bat against Pat Moore in the bottom of the sixth singled, including a very controversial interference call against Fiedler at second base that allowed the second run to score. With two in scoring position and nobody out, Moore buckled down to get two straight popups and then a backwards K, keeping the Huskies in striking range.

Washington got their second gift in as many innings when Miranda Elish served up a four-pitch walk. She got ahead of Madi Huskey, but left a 1-2 pitch center-cut, and, well...

Watch the end again, and keep an eye on Huskey as she crosses the plate. Madi’s one of the quietest players on the team. To see her display that kind of emotion in a February non-conference game was chilling, in a good way.

Without even getting the ball out of the infield, the Huskies found a way to squeeze across another run as Lynch, Reynolds and Klingler all beat out infield singles to the left side. Pennington got a glove on Klingler’s rocket to third but deflected it to Kiley Naomi at short, who rushed her throw and skipped one past Richbourg at first, allowing pinch-runner Moore (yes, the active pitcher can pinch-run) to score without a throw and take the lead.

UW now had the lead for the first time since the third, but still had to get three more outs in a game where it felt like whoever was at-bat was about to retake the lead. Brooke Nelson entered and after matching Elish’s worst of omens with a leadoff walk, she buckled down in a huge way, retiring the next three capped by back-to-back strikeouts of Karli Petty and Naomi, who were a combined 5-for-7 in the game entering the seventh.

Pac-12 Standings, with latest NFCA rankings

  1. #5 Washington 9-1
  2. #9 Oregon 8-1
  3. RV Stanford 9-2
  4. #8 Arizona 7-2
  5. California 8-3
  6. #6 UCLA 7-3
  7. #22 Arizona State 7-3
  8. Oregon State 7-3
  9. Utah 7-4

This Week

After having to find somewhere else to go during week 3 last year with the Mary Nutter Classic cancelled, the Huskies return to their normal third-week destination this year in Cathedral City, Calif.

All games are televised on FloSoftball. If you watched the Huskies on opening weekend in Puerto Vallarta, it’s the same subscription service you used then. If you didn’t then but are interested, signing up for a month through this link will bring the price down from $29.99/month to $12.50/month — but be sure to cancel once this is over, because barring unforeseen developments, this is the last time UW will be on FloSoftball this season.

  • Fri, 6 p.m.: San Diego St (9-2)
  • Fri, 8:30 p.m.: LMU (5-6)
  • Sat, 12 p.m.: #16 Missouri (8-3)
  • Sat, 2:30 p.m.: #18 Northwestern (7-2)
  • Sun, 9 a.m.: RV Iowa State (8-1)

The scariest team right now is Northwestern, who put on an impressive display in Clearwater last weekend, going 3-1 with an upset of UCLA and a blowout of Clemson before narrowly falling to Oklahoma State in their finale. Lefty ace Danielle Williams is one of very few pitchers nationwide who can truly go toe-to-toe with Gabbie Plain.

Stats and Notes

  • After a so-so opening weekend by her standards, Baylee Klingler tore up pitching at SPC Elite, going 8/17 with 4 homers, with the winning run scoring on her at-bat in the narrow wins vs Texas Tech (solo homer) and Oklahoma State (infield single + error that allowed pinch-runner Moore to score from second).
  • The search for a #2 pitcher behind Plain continues, but there were some good signs. Nelson’s save against the Cowgirls lasted just four batters but featured the best swing-and-miss stuff she’s shown at UW. Kelley Lynch made her first career relief appearance and, while not spectacular, was effective against a top-25 opponent in LSU: 3 23 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, which included a massive strikeout in the second to escape a bases-loaded jam inherited from Moore.
  • Plain allowed her first two earned runs of the year in the loss to Clemson. The first run the Tigers scored (2 outs in the second) snapped a 25 23 inning scoreless streak to start the season. The second run, a solo shot by Valerie Cagle in the sixth, brought an end to an impressive streak for UW pitching as a whole: Husky pitchers went 57 innings without allowing a homer since Nelson allowed one in the fourth inning of the season opener vs Lamar.
  • Those two homers allowed to opponents, total, is matched or eclipsed by six different Huskies — Klingler already has five, Sami Reynolds and Olivia Johnson have three, and Madi Huskey, Kinsey Fiedler and Sarah Willis have two each.