The Washington Huskies went into last Sunday knowing they had to defeat a good, under-seeded team in Big 10 champion Michigan Wolverines. And they didn’t have to do it once, but twice to move on to the Super Regionals. So they did.
In Husky softball fashion, Washington backed up their senior pitcher Gabbie Plain as she took on the Wolverines in both games.
In game one her pitching kept Michigan off the scoreboard while the Huskies scored behind a solo home run from the only Husky to score double digit post-season home runs in her career in graduate Morganne Flores.
It was the second home run against the Wolverines last weekend from Flores. Flores normally shows a matter-of-fact attitude who doesn’t always show a lot of emotion showed on that home run the importance of the moment as she celebrated and yelled at home plate to pump up her team.
Plain (32-3) did what Plain does as she struck out nine and giving up six hits to record the win and move into the night cap winner-take-all game.
And a night cap it was as the game started after 8pm PT meaning the Wolverine fans at home were watching after 11am.
Unlike game one this game was about big innings. After both teams scored a run in the first inning the second inning was an uncharacteristic one for Plain as she was bombarded by Michigan who scored four runs and it looked like a tough loss might be going down for Washington.
But, as the Huskies have shown, they never give up no matter what the score and they produced an unbelievably big inning of their own.
After getting two runs back in the bottom of the third it was Jadelyn Allchin who started the fireworks in the fourth as she led off with a home run and her teammates took the cue scoring seven total runs to take the lead and put the Wolverines on their heels.
After adding three more for a 10-5 lead and behind Plain’s pitching where she allowed Michigan only one hit after that disastrous second Washington recorded the final out and claimed their ticket for the Norman Regional where they will face the number one seed Oklahoma Sooners.
Despite the rough inning Plain had she remained steady and focused which Washington head coach Heather Tarr talked about during the press conference heading into the Super Regional.
“I think the biggest thing about a pitcher like Gabbie is that they believe in their stuff,” said Tarr. “And they know that their stuff can get the outs and no matter how dire the situation might be, like you saw Gabs throwing back to back games on Sunday night, like no matter how dire the situation is if you really knuckle up and focus you can always win as a pitcher. And I think Gabbie has.”
Tarr said that this past weekend at the Regionals was the first time she really saw Plain have to dig into an extra gear and she remarked that former Husky pitcher who led the team to their only championship Danielle Lawrie, was someone who knew how to find her extra stuff and get back into the game and it was neat to see Plain able to do the same thing.
Oklahoma has stated that fans are welcomed and it’s expected that the stadium will be full to capacity for each game. Coach Tarr was asked if it was something she felt she needed to address with the team.
“I think that our team needs to know that it won’t be like it was last week however last week was probably pretty equal in terms of energy from Michigan’s side to our side,” said Tarr. “And you know just in terms of the player/ guest numbers it will not be the same environment. It will be definitely not pro University of Washington but for us I think these guys deserve to play in front of people and what an opportunity for us to play in front of a crowd for once this year. How cool.”
The best-of-three series to determine who will be heading to the NCAA College World Series begins at noon (PT) on Friday, May 28th on ESPN2 with the second game scheduled to play at noon on Saturday on ABC. If a third game is necessary it will be played on Sunday, May 30.
Having Saturday’s game on ABC will be the first time for a college softball game to be on a major channel. Coach Tarr addressed the importance not just for the two teams playing but for the game of softball.
“I think it’s pretty epic and deserved and unfortunately Oklahoma and Washington will not be at the college world series you know that’s kind of a travesty,” said Tarr. But if there’s a silver lining in it, (that) these two teams and these two women and these two programs get that opportunity to be the first to go through that and I’m so proud to be part of it and I’m proud our team, including Morganne and Kaija (Gibson), and our group gets to be shown on that stage.”