May 28, 2009

Courtesy of University of Washington Sports Information.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Not fazed by their first appearance in the Women's College World Series, freshmen Niki Williams and Kimi Pohlman drove in all three runs for No. 3 Washington Thursday as the Huskies defeated No. 6 Georgia, 3-1, in the opening game of the Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Huskies (47-11) advance to face the winner of No. 10 Arizona State and unseeded Missouri on Friday at 6 p.m. CT. Georgia (44-11) drops into the loser's bracket and will not play until Saturday.

Williams blasted a two-run home run in the fourth inning and Pohlman added some insurance with a two-out RBI single in the sixth as the Huskies out-hit the Bulldogs, 7-6. Pohlman was the only Husky in the lineup to get two hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base to keep her a perfect 20-for-20 in her career.

In her first appearance since being named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Danielle Lawrie allowed just one run on six hits and struck out five to improve to 38-7 on the season. The five strikeouts give her 1,321 in her career, moving the junior into a tie for 14th in NCAA history.

The game was scoreless through the first three-and-a-half innings despite each team having runners on base every inning. Georgia got the first runner of the game on base against Lawrie when leadoff hitter Taylor Schlopy drew a walk, but Lawrie was able to escape with two groundouts and a strikeout to end the threat.

The Huskies threatened in the first inning as well, getting two runners on base when Pohlman singled and stole second and Lawrie was intentionally walked with two outs. Sophomore Morgan Stuart then hit a deep drive to center field, but Schlopy made the catch near the fence to end the inning.

The Bulldogs put another rally together in the second, getting two on with one out, but Lawrie escaped again. After a long fly ball out to start the inning which took centerfielder Alyson McWherter back to the wall, the next two batters reached on a walk and a single. But Lawrie got a harmless pop out and a ground ball out to third base to end the inning.

In the third, UW had the best chance of the first three frames to break the tie when they loaded the bases with one out. Ashley Charters led off with a walk, Pohlman reached on an error and Lawrie was again walked intentionally, but the Bulldogs pulled off an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play to keep the game scoreless.

Lawrie responded by getting her first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the fourth to stall Georgia's momentum.

The Huskies finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth with Williams coming through in a big way. After Lauren Greer drew a two-out walk, the nine-hole hitter for the Huskies blasted a two-run home run to straight-away centerfield to give UW the 2-0 lead. It was her third home run of the season and her first since February 27. She went 81 at-bats between home runs.

Georgia got one of the runs back in the top of the fifth when Kristin Schanke led off with a double and scored on a double down the line by Schlopy. But Lawrie escaped further damage with a ground out and a strike out to end the inning and keep the Huskies on top.

The Huskies added some insurance in the seventh inning when UW's other stellar freshman came through at the plate. Pohlman ripped a two-out RBI single to centerfield to score Bailey Stenson to make the score 3-1. After Stenson reached on a one-out single, Charters kept the rally going with a single of her own with two outs to bring up Pohlman, who has had some clutch hits all season. She struck again with a line drive up the middle and Stenson came around from second to score to increase the lead.

The victory was a measure of revenge for Lawrie, whose first loss of the season came at the hands of Georgia back in the SEC/Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala. While she only struck out five in the game, she was tough with runners on base, including the seventh inning when Schnake led off the inning with her second hit of the game. After shortstop Jenn Salling forced Schnake out at second for the first out, the Huskies turned a game-ending 5-4-3 double play with Stuart taking a one hopper and firing to Charters at second who fired in time to first to end the game.

UW will now await either Arizona State - whom they beat two-out-of-three games in Pac-10 play this season - or Missouri, which is making its first-ever World Series appearance. The game will air live on ESPN with Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza and John Kruk calling the action.