May 22, 2010

SEATTLE - Danielle Lawrie launched a two-run home run in the first inning that turned out to be all the runs she needed to back her own four-hit shutout as the No. 1 Washington softball team earned a 3-0 win over North Dakota State in their opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament at Husky Softball Stadium.

The Huskies (46-6) were stymied for much of the night by Bison freshman Whitney Johnson, who allowed just three runs on six hits in her postseason debut. But Lawrie provided the spark with her 15th home run of the season with one out in the first, plating Jenn Salling who had walked.

UW manufactured their only other run in the third when Amanda Fleischman led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a ground out to the right side by Kimi Pohlman before coming in to score on Salling's RBI groundout. While UW would then load the bases later in the inning on a walk to Lawrie, a single by Niki Williams and an infield single by Shawna Wright, Johnson would get out of the jam to keep the score at 3-0.

The Huskies would mount another threat in the fourth when Hooch Fagaly and Fleischman, the only Husky with two hits in the game, singled again, but they would leave two stranded and would not collect a hit the rest of the way.

They wouldn't need to though as Lawrie was her usual self, striking out 13 batters and walking none to improve to 36-2. She also tied her own single-season school record with her 21st shutout of the year.

The Bison had a one-out single in the first before Lawrie struck out four of the next batters and retired 10 in a row - seven via strikeout - before allowing another single in the fourth. NDSU would then mount their only serious threat in the fifth when Becca Gift led off with a single and was sacrificed to second, but Lawrie induced a ground out and struck out the next batter to escape.

North Dakota State, an NCAA Super Regional team last year, also put two on with two out in the sixth, but Lawrie again wiggled out of the inning with a strikeout to keep the Bison off the board.

Lawrie then made quick work of the Bison in the seventh, striking out the first two batters of the inning before retiring the final batter on a ground out to third.

The Huskies will now face North Carolina in Saturday's first game at 3 p.m. Earlier in the day Friday, the Tar Heels defeated Nebraska, 1-0, when UNC's senior ace Danielle Spaulding fired a no-hitter, striking out 11. She walked just one and got the only run she would need on a four-base error by the Cornhuskers. Anna Roberts laid down a bunt and reached when the pitcher overthrew first base. The ball then got by the right fielder and went all the way to the wall, allowing Roberts to score the eventual winning run.

North Dakota State and Nebraska will face off at 5 p.m. with the losing team eliminated. The winner of that game will then take on the loser of the Washington-North Carolina game, with the losing team of that game also exiting the tournament.