May 22, 2010

SEATTLE - In a battle of senior aces named Danielle, Washington's Danielle Lawrie out-dueled North Carolina's Danielle Spaulding, 1-0, Saturday to send the Huskies into Sunday's regional final.

Lawrie allowed just two hits and struck out 11 batters without walking anyone, improving to 37-2 with her second-straight shutout, giving her a school record 22 on the year. Spaulding was just as impressive, allowing just three hits and striking out 12, but the difference in the game was an unearned run the Huskies scored in the first inning.

With UW (47-6) designated as the visiting team, Kimi Pohlman led off the game with a line shot to center field that went over the Tar Heel outfielders' head for a double. Jenn Salling then slapped a ball to the right side and beat out the throw, which then went into right field, allowing Pohlman to come around and score what would be the winning run.

The Huskies would put runners in scoring position again in the second and third, the latter coming when Salling singled to lead off the inning and advanced on a ground out, but Spaulding struck out the next two batters to escape. UW would not get another hit the rest of the way.

Although the lefty Spaulding would walk three batters over the final three innings, she ended five of the seven innings with strikeouts, all of which came with runners on base and four times came with a runner in scoring position.

Lawrie, meanwhile, allowed a single to UNC's leadoff hitter in the first before retiring 10 in a row - six via strikeout - before the Huskies committed an error with one out in the fourth. But Lawrie would induce a pop out and strike out the final batter of the inning to escape her toughest jam until the seventh inning.

After retiring another 10 in a row, the Tar Heels then mounted a two-out threat in the seventh when Ally Blake hit a liner to centerfield which UW's Alyson McWherter dove for, but the ball slipped under her glove and rolled to the wall, allowing Blake to get to second and put the tying run in scoring position. But Lawrie would strike out Kelli Wheeler for the third time in the game to end the game.

The Huskies will now either play North Carolina again or the winner of North Dakota State and Nebraska, who are playing an elimination game but are currently in rain delay. The winner of that game will play North Carolina for the right to play the Huskies. That team would have to defeat Washington twice to win the Regional. Games Sunday are scheduled for 2:30 and 5 p.m., if necessary.