The University of Washington Huskies wrap up the Pac-12 regular season this weekend against the Stanford Cardinals and they started with a win.
Senior Taran Alvelo (23-4) took the mound on Thursday and led the number two ranked Huskies to a 5-2 win over Stanford.
While the senior was taking care of business on the mound it was the freshman class who helped make an impact as they have all year.
In a game that saw Alvelo hold the Cardinals (32-16, 8-11) hitless through the first four innings it was the fifth inning that held most of the action.
After Stanford lead-off hitter Montana Dixon singled for the first hit off Alvelo the second Cardinal batter put into motion a rare double play.
Emily Young of Stanford hit a short fly to left where freshman outfielder Sami Reynolds had no trouble running up to make the catch. With her momentum moving towards the infield Reynolds fired a throw to first catching Alyssa Horeczko, who had come in to pinch run, before she could make it back to the bag to give Washington two quick outs.
Washington (43-7, 18-4) got all the runs they needed to back up their All-American pitcher getting all five of their runs in the bottom of the fifth.
After junior Sis Bates singled to get on the Huskies had red-shirt junior Morganne Flores step in and sliced a fly ball into the right field corner for a triple that scored Bates giving the Huskies the 1-0 lead.
Reynolds stepped in and got a sacrifice fly-out to score Flores. Sophomore Emma Helm reached on an error, replaced by freshman pinch-runner Francesca Torraca. After an out it was senior Kaija Gibson who then singled to put two Washington runners on for freshman Madison Huskey.
Huskey promptly hit a high fly ball down the leftfield foul line the hit the foul pole or in this case the fair pole, to give her a three-run home run and the Huskies a 5-0 lead.
Neither team scored in the sixth and with three outs left to try and rally Stanford made a run at Washington when Kristina Inouye lead-off with a single, replaced by pinch runner Hannah Matteson, the next batter, Dixon, homered to bring in two runs for the Cardinals.
Despite the next batter getting a single Alvelo settled down and the next two batters flied out and Alvelo punctuated the win with a swinging strikeout of the final batter.
With her eight strikeouts Alvelo moved into eighth place for most career strikeouts (846) in Washington history as well as becoming only the 10th Husky to record over 250 strikeouts in a season and the first since Washington legend Danielle Lawrie.
This win, their 18th in conference play and the most under head coach Heather Tarr, plus the upset win of the Arizona Wildcats over the UCLA Bruins keeps the Huskies in play for the Pac-12 title.
A lot of softball still needs to be played but if Arizona can sweep the Bruins and Washington sweeps Stanford they would end up tied with Arizona for the Pac-12 crown.
The teams continue their three-game series at 5 pm on Friday with the final game, Senior Day, at 1200p on Saturday.
Sunday is selection day where 64 teams will find out who plays and where. With their number two ranking Washington will host regional play next weekend and if they win out then they will also host the Super Regionals for a chance to make another run at the NCAA World Series in Oklahoma City.
HUSKIES RACK UP PAC-12 HONORS
The Pac-12 gave end-of-season honors and Washington earned 10 year-end awards.
With Bates winning her second straight Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year award she then joined Alvelo, Flores and sophomore All-American pitcher Gabbie Plain on the All-Pac-12 First Team.
Junior Taryn Atlee and Reynolds were named to the All-Pac-12 Third Team with Reynolds also joining freshman SilentRain Espinoza earning All-Freshman honors.
Plain was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, Washington’s first such selection since Ali Aguilar. The pre-science major is now eligible to be named an Academic All-American. CoSIDA will make that announcement in June.