Danielle Lawrie, left, and Ashley Charters share a laugh during the Huskies’ 7-0 win against Stanford May 7.
Having already escaped one postseason venture, the natural assumption for the Washington softball team would have been that the next round would only get tougher and that the Huskies would have to play better to move past Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Super Regional than they did in barely edging Massachusetts two weekends ago in Amherst.
So the No. 3 Huskies did what they needed to do against the No. 14 Yellow Jackets. They claimed 7-1 and 7-0 wins in the best-of-three series to advance to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) for the second time in the past three seasons, making it look easier than any two wins this deep into the postseason probably should.
“Any time you get battle tested, you’re prepared for the next battle,” said UW head coach Heather Tarr. “UMass prepped us for the super regional battle with Georgia Tech. They have the potential to go crazy with their fans and their football players there. It could have gotten nasty real quick.”
It did get nasty in a hurry, but only for Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets simply had no answer for UW ace Danielle Lawrie in the batter’s box or in the circle. Lawrie, who will likely pitch every inning of the postseason, threw two more complete games and hit two 2-run home runs in the Huskies’ WCWS-clinching win Sunday.
Lawrie allowed only seven hits in the two games, and Georgia Tech’s only run came via a solo homer by Jen Yee in the first game, with the Huskies leading 3-0 in the sixth inning.
The second game was essentially over before Lawrie even had to throw a pitch, as she parked a pitch up around her neck over the left-field foul pole in the first inning for a home run. Alicia Blake and Ashlyn Watson also added solo shots, tying the UW’s postseason record of four home runs in a game.
Washington’s offense was inconsistent throughout conference play, but against Georgia Tech, the difference between the Pac-10 and the rest of the country was as obvious as ever. The UW pounded out 14 hits in Saturday’s win and chased Georgia Tech starter Jessica Coan after three innings in both outings.
For the Yellow Jackets, just making it to the super regionals was somewhat of an accomplishment. They played without freshman shortstop and second-leading hitter Kelsi Weseman, who was sidelined with a broken arm.
Simply put, this wasn’t the competition the Huskies faced in Amherst and likely won’t compare to what they’ll see this week in Oklahoma City for the WCWS.
“I think UMass was the best team we’ve played so far in the postseason,” Tarr said. “When you face a team that doesn’t have that kind of pitching, you’ll have a good advantage.”
Reach sports editor Christian Caple at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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