Huskies face tough climb
After beating Michigan, Washington must face Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY –- The question of the day at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium: How do you beat the University of Oklahoma twice?
That is the task for the Washington Huskies over the next two days. Head coach Heather Tarr’s squad earned the right to face the top-seeded Sooners with a 4-1 victory over Michigan on Sunday afternoon.
“They know what we have to do, and the best part is we have to play our game,” said Tarr, whose squad must beat Oklahoma (54-4) Sunday night in order to force an if-necessary contest on Monday. “They are excited to keep playing. It beats the alternative, which would be getting to bed early to get up for school tomorrow.
“They want to keep playing.”
Seeded 11th in the NCAA tournament, Washington (45-16) outscored Portland State and Hawaii, 12-1, in regional play. The Huskies won a pair of nail-biters in Columbia, Mo., during a Super Regional hosted by sixth-seeded Missouri.
The WCWS week opened with a dramatic come-from-behind, extra-inning win against Nebraska on Thursday. A suicide squeeze play tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Kimberlee Souza led off the eighth with a home run for a 4-3 win.
Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe struck out 10 and gave up just two hits in the Volunteers’ 1-0 win on Saturday against the Huskies. The game’s lone run came in UT’s final at-bat.
Playing close games have been commonplace over the last two weeks. Four of UW’s last five games have been one-run affairs.
“Our team is pretty scrappy,” said UW senior catcher Shawna Wright. “We are doing whatever it takes to win games right now.”
What lies ahead for UW?
Patty Gasso’s Sooners have outscored their 2013 NCAA tournament opponents, 76-11. That includes a pair of WCWS games this week, wins of 7-1 against Michigan and 10-2 against Texas. OU sticks have been devastating, but solving 2012 and 2013 USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts in the circle might be the most difficult.
In her first outing on Thursday, the powerful left-hander struck out 12 Wolverines over seven innings. Two days later against the Longhorns, Ricketts proved she is actually human, allowing a pair of runs and walking four.
Still, Ricketts takes a 33-1 won-loss record into Sunday night.
Seven Sooners had hits on Saturday; Destinee Martinez and Callie Parsons each had two. Against Michigan, Lauren Chamberlain, who homered to move her season total to 28, and Jessica Shultz each had two hits in a game that saw seven OU batters with at least one hit.
UW junior Bryana Walker picked up her 20th win in the circle, holding the Wolverines to four hits while striking out seven. In the Tennessee loss, Kaitlin Inglesby walked six and gave nine hits, but allowed just the one run. In the opening win over the Huskers, Walker and Inglesby teamed up to strike out four and five just five hits. Both pitchers will most likely see the circle against OU.
An all-hands-on-deck attitude will certainly be required for the Seattle natives to advance to the championship series.