May 24, 2009

Courtesy of Washington Athletics

ATLANTA - After a grueling weekend in their NCAA Regional in Amherst, Mass., last weekend which stretched over four days, the No. 3 Washington softball team made quick work of the No. 14 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Super Regionals, capping a sweep of the best-of-three series with a 7-0 win Sunday to advance to their ninth trip to the Women's College World Series and their second in the last three years.

Danielle Lawrie was the star of the day, firing a three-hit shutout and striking out eight while blasting two home runs and knocking in four RBI as the Huskies breezed to the victory. She did not walk a batter in improving to 37-7 to break Washington's single-season victories record and picked up her first career two-home run game.

UW (46-11) advances to face No. 6 Georgia (44-10) in the first game of the World Series on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET in Oklahoma City. The game will air live on ESPN.

The Huskies tied a postseason school record on Sunday with four home runs in the game, equaling the 2005 team for most long balls in a postseason game. Lawrie hit a pair of two-run home runs while seniors Alicia Blake and Ashlyn Watson also went deep for the Dawgs. Lawrie is the seventh player in Husky history to hit two home runs in a postseason game.

The victory was the second step in a three-week road trip for the Huskies, who traveled to Amherst, Mass., on March 13. They traveled straight to Atlanta last Tuesday and will head straight to Oklahoma City on Monday.

"I think we had the odds against us this postseason, having to travel pretty far in both rounds," fifth-year Washington head coach Heather Tarr said. "I don't think it would be easy for any team to make two long trips like that to play. First of all, I'm proud of our team for getting out of the first round, secondly I'm proud of how we played this weekend. We got better and better with every at bat and every pitch."

Lawrie gave herself a two-run cushion before she even took the circle, blasting a two-run home run to left field, her fifth of the year. After Kimi Pohlman reached on a one-out single, Lawrie got a pitch up in the zone and hit a towering shot that went well over the foul pole in left field to give UW the early 2-0 lead.

Senior Alicia Blake then gave her pitcher some more support when she launched her second home run of the season over the right-center field wall, her second of the year, making the score 3-0 in the second.

Lawrie then hit another long bomb in the third, another two-run shot, this one to left-center for her first career two-homer game. Jenn Salling walked with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Lawrie hit a no-doubter to give her six on the season and make the score 5-0.

The Huskies were held scoreless again until the sixth inning when they manufactured another run. Pinch-hitter Felecia Harris was hit by a pitch and Bailey Stenson then came in to run for her and stole second before Niki Williams bounced a single up the middle to plate Stenson and increase the lead to 6-0.

In the top of the seventh, senior Ashlyn Watson put the icing on the cake with her 11th home run of the season to left-centerfield which tied a UW single-game postseason record with the Huskies' fourth home run of the game.

In the circle, Lawrie was in control the whole game, allowing a single in the second and another in the fourth. After the single in the fourth, she retired six in a row and eight of the next nine until the seventh inning when the Yellow Jackets collected their third hit of the game, but Lawrie got the final out on a groundout to Salling at short, sending the Huskies on to Oklahoma City for the first time since 2007.

"Mentally, I was in a little bit of a better place (today)," Lawrie said. "Getting up 2-0 in the first was huge. When you score first you never want to let your opponent back in it. I think I wanted to set the tone for the team and let them know we weren't going to game three. I'm going to keep them off the board, we're going to score runs and we're going to win the game."

The Huskies, the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament, face the No. 6 seed Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. The teams split a pair of games earlier this season in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with the Huskies winning the first game between the teams, 2-0, and the Bulldogs handing Lawrie her first loss of the season on the final game of the weekend, 2-0.

Notes

  • The 2005 Washington team hit four home runs against Nebraska on May 21, 2005 in the NCAA Regionals.

  • Lawrie is the seventh player in UW history to hit two home runs in a postseason game and the first since Sarah Hyatt and Aimee Minor both did it against Nebraska on May 21, 2005. Just one player in UW history has ever hit three home runs in a game, All-American Kristen Rivera who did it on March 3, 2003 against Purdue.