Feb. 24, 2009

Courtesy of Washington

SEATTLE - When the dust settled on one of the most competitive tournaments of the college softball season, in which several top-five battles took place, the Washington Husky softball team emerged as the top team in the land when the new rankings were released Tuesday, earning the No. 1 spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll.

The Huskies earned their first No. 1 ranking since the 2000 season and their first-ever No. 1 ranking in the ESPN.com poll, which has been in existence since 2003. UW parlayed a perfect 5-0 record in the Cathedral City Classic last weekend, including a 1-0 win over No. 2 Florida, to earn the top spot in the country. UW received 16 of a possible 20 first-place votes to finish well ahead of the Gators, who remained in the two spot.

The Huskies also moved up from No. 7 to No. 3 in the NFCA/USA Today poll, receiving the most first-place votes (11) of any team, but falling 17 total points shy of the top spot. Alabama (12-1) remained No. 1 while Florida (12-2) is No. 2 despite falling to the Huskies last weekend.

At 14-0, Washington is off to their best start in program history, led by junior All-American and 2008 Olympic Games participant Danielle Lawrie. Over the weekend, Lawrie fired shutouts in all three of her starts, each with double-digit strikeouts. She brought her best stuff against the powerful Gator lineup, limiting the No. 2 team to two bunt singles while striking out 12 in nine innings. She fired back-to-back shutouts over Nebraska and Ohio State on Sunday, striking out 15 Cornhuskers while allowing just one hit in the first game and striking out 16 Buckeyes and allowing two hits in a 1-0 eight-inning victory to wrap up the weekend.

The Huskies have been led at the plate by their seniors, with Ashlyn Watson leading the way with a .441 average and four home runs while All-American Ashley Charters is batting .419 with three home runs, 15 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Fellow senior Alicia Blake is third on the team with a .357 average.

Fans can see the newly crowned No. 1 team this weekend when they host the Husky Softball Classic, Friday, Feb. 27-Sunday, March 1. UW will take on Boise State, Portland State and Seattle with the Huskies' first game taking place Friday at 3 p.m. against Seattle at Husky Softball Stadium.