Know Your (Potential) WCWS Opponent - #3 Washington

We are going to do the best we can here at RMN to preview all the possible opponents for the softball team this week and weekend.  We have spent yesterday and today previewing the two teams who the Tigers might play...but might not.  Yesterday it was #6 Georgia.  Tomorrow, we will finish with the only team we know Mizzou WILL play in #10 Arizona State.  In the meantime, let's get back to the previewin' by taking a look at the #3 seed Washington Huskies from the Pac-10 Conference.

Season:

Overall, UW finished the regular season at 41-10 with a 14-7 record in the Pac-10 conference, which was good enough for second place overall (behind UCLA).  They went 15-1 at home, 8-8 on the road (but another 4-1 in the NCAA's) and 19-1 at neutral sites (plus another win in the NCAA's).  Their RPI is 3rd per Warren Nolan RPI .(which has been updated to include all the action of the tournament it appears)  They run-ruled 12 opponents on the season, were run-ruled twice themselves and played in nine extra inning games, going 7-2.

Common Opponents:

  • San Diego State - UW  won 5-0, Mizzou lost 4-2 in 8 innings
  • Nebraska - UW won 6-0, Mizzou split (losing 6-1, winning 5-0)
  • Baylor - UW won 1-0 in 8, Mizzou swept (winning 2-1, 7-1 and 1-0)
  • UCLA - UW lost two of three (lost 2-0 in 11 and 10-0 in 5 at UCLA, won 3-0 at home), Mizzou split FOUR games (winning 2-1 and 9-1, losing 2-1 and 5-2)

UW in the Tournament Thus Far:

The Huskies have been the road warriors so far in the tournament, as they have not played a game at home.  They travelled across the country to Amherst, MA to win the Regional in exciting fashion, which included a 6-1 final game which took 15 innings to complete.  That had come after they fell to host UMASS 3-1 to force the deciding game.  In Super Regional play, the team headed south to Atlanta to take on #14 Ga Tech, and dispatched them quickly, winning 7-1 and 7-0 in the last game to now have the right to travel to OKC for the WCWS.  Hey, at least they are getting closer to home step by step (2,978 miles to 2,693 miles to 1,997 miles)

Non-Conference:

UW certainly took on all comers this season, and went on the road to do it.  Their first three tournies were all on the road, and resulted in a perfect 14-0 start.  That included wins against #1 RPI Florida (1-0 in 9 innings), #14 Ohio State, #16 Tennessee and #37 Nebraska.  The SEC/Pac-10/Big XII Challenge saw them take on and beat #31 Baylor while splitting two games with both #2 Alabama and #5 Georgia.  Don't forget about wins against #6 Michigan, #15 Florida State and #36 Fresno State.

Pac-10 Action:

All you have to know about the Pac-10 is that their conference winner (UCLA) did not make the WCWS and they STILL have three teams out of eight in the fray.  In fact, between the tough out of conference schedule and what they play in conference, UW managed to play (and beat) six of the other seven WCWS teams, with the one exception being Mizzou.

The actual conference slate did not start all that promising for the Huskies, as they dropped two of their first three and sat at 4-3 after a road sweep at the hands of UCLA.  Three easy wins against the Oregon schools righted the ship somewhat before they would drop another two of three to Arizona schools.  But they would get it back together to win their last six of seven, with the run starting on a 2-0 win over UCLA.  Their season included wins over #4 UCLA, #7 Arizona, #10 Stanford, #11 Arizona State, and #26 Cal.

Offense:

UW has a 1-2 punch of average, speed and even a little power that will rival any squad in the nation.  They are led (in stats and in the lineup) by 2B Ashley Charters (senior).  She batter a team-leading .443 with 60 runs scored, more than twice of anyone else on the squad and over 20 percent of all runs scored.  She had 86 hits, including five triples and eight HR's (along with 30 RBI's).  She had a team-high slugging of .665 and OBP of .502, while also swipting 36 of 41 bases.  She was followed by CF Kimi Pohlman (frosh) who hit a solid .357 and was a perfect 19-19 on the base paths.  DP Ashlyn Watson (senior) is counted on for the pop, leading the team with 11 HR's and 36 RBI's.  3B Morgan Stuart (soph) hit .301 and led in doubles (12) and HBP (also with 12....TWELVE).  UW had just these four starters over .300 on the season.  P Danielle Lawrie (junior) was the #2 HR threat for the Huskies with 6, cincluding 2 in their Super Regional-clinching win over Ga Tech. 

On the whole, UW hit .294 (.170 opposition) with 45 HR's (23 opposition), slugging of .434 (.255 opposition) and OBP of .372 (.234 opposition).  They stole 81 bases (29 opposition) on 96 chances. 

Defense:

UW was not terribly great in the field this past season, committing 53 errors for a fielding percentage of .966 (.963 opposition).  They gave up 28 unearned runs for the year. 3B Morgan Stuart (soph) was the weak link in the field with 11 errors, while 2B Charters committed nine errors.

Pitching:

The sun rises and sets for the Huskies with just one arm, that of P Danielle Lawrie (junior).  She started 44 of 57 games for UW, completing 40 of them, with 18 shutouts.  She was 37-7 with a miniscule 0.84 ERA.  She threw 308 innings, giving up only 134 hits and 37 earned runs, while walking 63 and striking out...um....472.  In the Regional-clinching, do-or-die game against UMASS, she threw all FIFTEEN innings, striking out 24 in the win.  Batters only hit .128 against her.

On the whole, UW had a team ERA of 1.48 (4.40 opposition) with TWENTY shutouts on the season (8 opposition).  They struck out 515 total batters (299 opposition) and walked just 88 (162 opposition).

Fun Fact:

Husky Softball Stadium looks like it sits at the base of the football stadium, while also looking out over Lake Washington and towards Mt. Ranier.  It is two-time NFCA Stadium of the Year, and yet, it STILL does not have lights and they don't seem to play there very often.  Strange.

Overall Thoughts:

First off, how absolutely INSANE was UW's schedule?  They played 18 total games against just teams in the top 11 of the RPI.  Nevermind all the rest of the wins, but I dont think you will see a stronger schedule of ANY team in the WCWS, which makes UW the most prepared in that sense.

Yesterday I said I thought Mizzou could hang with any of the other seven teams in this thing except Florida and Alabama.  That was before I saw the stats on Lawrie.  Those are just sick.  UW is certainly lighter hitting than other teams Mizzou has defeated this year and they do not defend as well as others, so the chance of winning a 1-0 or 2-1 game are there.  But I do not forsee a scenario where we get past UW if they score more than 2-3 runs against us because Lawrie just looks THAT good, especially against a team who K's more than a lot of other teams like Mizzou does.  Couple that with the big-game experience of Lawrie and this team will be one TOUGH win for the Tigers.

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