The University of Washington softball team is one win away from their first NCAA National Championship after shutting out the University of Florida in Game One of the Women’s College World Series final round.
Behind seven shutout innings from ace Danielle Lawrie, the Huskies stormed to an 8-0 victory that had most people in attendance believing the game was over after the sixth inning, when an eight-run mercy rule would have taken effect. That mercy rule is lifted for the championship series, however, and the teams were forced to play what amounted to a meaningless seventh inning.
The scoring spree got underway in the third inning on a bizarre play with the bases loaded that began with a Jenn Salling single to center field. Washington first baseman Niki Williams scored easily from third, while Ashley Charters attempted to score from a second. Charters slid around the ensuing tag for the second run on the play.
Then, seeing Salling headed for second base with fellow Husky baserunner Kimi Polhman already hovering just past second, Florida catcher Kristina Hilbert threw the ball in the direction of her shortstop, only to watch it sail into center field and roll all the way to the fence. The error allowed both Pohlman and Salling to score, as well, and all of a sudden the Huskies had mounted an early 4-0 lead.
One inning later, Washington tacked on two more runs thanks to a Morgan Stuart double, and the final two runs were secured on an Ashley Charters two-run home run.
Lawrie, despite talk of fatigue lingering from her 16 innings pitched the day before, gave up only two singles to Florida hitters while striking out 13. Her velocity remained in the high-60’s from first pitch to last.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Lawrie will take the mound again today with a chance to lead her team to the national title. The two teams meet at 5:00 PM PDT in Game Two of the best-of-three series. If necessary, Game Three would be played tomorrow at the same time.