April 25, 2010

Courtesy of Washington Athletics

BERKELEY, Calif. - Danielle Lawrie fired her third perfect game of the season, tying a Pac-10 record, and the No. 1 Washington softball team won its fourth-straight conference series with a 4-0 win over Cal on Sunday at Levine-Fricke Field.

Lawrie struck out 14 in her fourth career perfect game, one shy of the conference record. She shut out Cal over 17 innings on the weekend, allowing just three total hits and striking out 32 after fanning 18 in a 10-inning shutout on Friday.

The senior, who improved to 27-2 on the season, joins Stanford's Marcy Crouch and Arizona's Alicia Hollowell as Pac-10 pitchers who have thrown three perfect games in a season. Lawrie was perfect in the season-opener back in February and also faced just 21 batters in UW's home opener in March. She now has seven no-hitters in her career, a school record. Additionally, with 14 strikeouts on Sunday, she moved just 76 shy of Hollowell for the Pac-10 career strikeout record.

With the win, the Huskies improved to 37-5 overall and 9-3 in Pac-10 play to stay on top of the conference standings, holding off hard-charging Arizona, which moved into second place with a three-game sweep of Oregon State over the weekend to sit one game back of UW. The Huskies have won all four of their series in conference play this year, including a three-game sweep of Arizona two weeks ago.

Lawrie threw 173 pitches on Friday and was thus held out of Saturday's game, which Cal won, 9-1. But the reigning National Player of the Year ensured UW would stay atop the standings by firing her 16th shutout of the year, the second-most in UW history and five shy of her own record set last year.

UW scored the only run they would need in the third inning on an RBI single by Bailey Stenson. Niki Williams would add a two-run home run in the fourth, her eighth of the season, and Hooch Fagaly capped the scoring with an RBI single in the sixth.

Stenson, Fagaly and Jenn Salling each had two hits in the game, combing for six of UW's 10 base knocks. Salling sparked UW from the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with a walk. Stenson went 2-for-4 with an RBI while Fagaly reached base all four times she came to the plate, going 2-for-2 with two walks. Williams, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. UW drew seven walks in the game.

After leaving five runners on base in the first two innings, the Huskies finally broke through in the third on Stenson's RBI single. Shawna Wright started things off with a one-out single and Fagaly followed with a walk. After Cal got the second out of the inning, Morgan Stuart kept things going with a single to leftfield to load the bases. Stenson then came through with a clutch two-out single to left to make it 1-0.

UW then tacked another two runs on Williams' two-run blast, which plated Kimi Pohlman. It was Williams' first home run since March 14, a span of 19 games and 60 at-bats. She hit seven home runs in her first 68 at bats this season.

The Huskies then added an insurance run in the sixth on Fagaly's two-out RBI single. Williams and Wright got the two-out rally started with back-to-back walks and the freshman Fagaly followed with a line-single down the right field line to extend the lead.

Lawrie struck out five different Cal batters at least twice in the game. She struck out the side in the fourth and seventh innings, fanning eight of nine batters over one stretch between the third and the sixth. She K'd at least one hitter in every inning and struck two or more in five of seven innings, throwing 97 pitches in the game.

The senior now has 327 strikeouts on the year, moving into fourth on the UW single-season charts. She owns the top four spots in UW history now, setting the record with 521 last year.

The Huskies return home next weekend to host a three-game series with Oregon State. The series kicks off Friday at 6 p.m., continues Saturday at 4 p.m. and concludes Sunday at Noon. All three games will air live on the radio, with Friday and Saturday's games airing on KKNW 1150 AM while Sunday's contest can be heard on KIXI 880 AM. Saturday and Sunday's games, meanwhile, can be seen live on UWTV.