Washington Huskies sophomore pitcher Gabbie Plain had just pitched her second no-hitter at the Husky Classic last weekend but she didn’t seem quite as excited as you might believe she’d be.
Plain has always shown herself to be even keel when pitching keeping her emotions level but even for this crafty hurler her after game mood seemed quite understated for the occasion.
Plain was pitching the final game of the three-day annual classic on Sunday, March 10th against the Seattle University Redhawks. In her previous start on Saturday she had no-hit the Northern Illinois University Huskies in a 2-0 win that included 15 strikeouts.
On this day Plain was heading into the top of the seventh inning with a 1-0 lead and after striking out the first two batters, her ninth and tenth of the game, she was one out from a perfect game.
She found herself facing junior Madison Cathcart, who they considered Seattle’s best hitter and the focus was on getting the win.
So Plain got a mound visit from her pitching coach, Lance Glasoe, who, as she described it, told her to, “Just pitch good pitches. If they’re going to miss, miss down, miss off don’t let her get anything that she’s going to take away.”
Plain pitched tight against Cathcart. She worked the plate but found many of her pitches just off the strike zone and Cathcart managed to get the walk, ending Plain’s bid for a perfect game.
““I think it was just, she was their best hitter so we didn’t really want to take any chances,” said Plain. “So if that meant going around her then so be it but, ah, we could of, I could of gone after her a bit better I guess. I sort of psyched myself out a little bit and, ah, it happens.”
Despite the loss of a perfect game Plain knows and plays for the team and she appreciates the back-up she’s had from her mates and extolls their constant high level play that gives her the confidence to focus on her pitching.
“It helps me immensely,” said Plain. “They do such an incredible job every day. And they train like they play so it’s just amazing to see how they do everything with a hundred and ten percent and I’m so glad I’m here.”
With the final out of the game Plain became the first Husky pitcher to pitch consecutive no-hitters and helped the Huskies go 6-0 over the weekend.
For Washington head coach Heather Tarr it was a solid weekend out on the field as her team showed what teams can expect from her team this season.
“Good pitching, good defense,” said Tarr. “That’s really what this team has. Really good command over and good control over. It’s going to be the signature of what we can do.
The team is a different look this year with younger players and fewer starters returning. Though pleased with how the team is coming together she still has expectations for where she wants her team and individuals to be.
“I think everybody (got) used to having…you [knew] what you’re going to get, you get Taylor Van Zee, you get [Julia] DePonte, you get Trysten Melhart, you get Kelly Burdick,” said Tarr. “But we don’t have that this year. So the older ones need to be the new Ali Aguilars, the new Taylor Van Zees and they can do it. They’re not doing it yet but the fact that our pitching and our defense is what it is you got to sleep pretty good at night with that.”
It’s a strong end to Washington’s pre-season as they conclude with a 22-3 record and seeded fifth in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll.
The Huskies will start Pac-12 play this weekend against the number one ranked Bruins who come in at 22-1 with their only loss against #25 Michigan Wolverines.
Both teams come in with solid pitching with UCLA ranked second in team ERA at 1.08 and Washington right behind in third with a 1.17 ERA.
With strong pitching and a solid defense coach, Tarr know that despite a slow offensive start to their season she feels her team is in a good spot and it’s just a matter of that one spark to get the offense moving into higher run counts.
“It’s a matter of contagiousness. Offenses are contagious they feed off each other,” said Tarr. “You know what you’re going to get, you kind of fire each other up and this group’s going to get it. It’s just going to take a little longer than we probably want and you know sometimes when you inherit really good defensive teams, really good pitching, you assume everybody else has that on their other side and (it’s a) respect for the game kind of thing…so your offensive mindset gets heightened and you always wish you have that offense with the defense but a lot of times it doesn’t happen that way so you’d rather have the defense and let the offense come.”
Washington will look to get things moving in that direction with their three-game series against UCLA. The first game starts at 7 pm on Friday, March 15 at Husky Stadium on the UW campus.