Two big innings and outstanding pitching performances left the Washington softball team one win away from the Women’s College World Series.
Washington scored five runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth, and freshman Ruby Meylan threw a shutout as the Huskies defeated Louisiana 8-0 in their super-regional opener Friday night at the sold-out 2,200-seat Husky Softball Stadium.
The game ended with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning due to the run-rule.
Washington (42-13) takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three super regional and can advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City by beating Louisiana (50-15) on Saturday. Showtime is 4 p.m. and it airs on ESPN.
If the Huskies lose Game 2, a deciding Game 3 will be played on Sunday at a time to be determined.
“It was just really cool to get another chance to play in front of our home crowd and have these guys keep trying to improve and get as good as they can,” said UW coach Heather Tarr.
Washington reached the Super Regionals when it scored seven runs in the seventh inning to defeat McNeese in the regional final on Sunday.
The offense did little in the first three innings on Friday, and at that point, UW had scored in only one of its previous 19 innings.
Then came an explosion. SilentRain Espinoza drove in the first run of the game on a double to left. Then came huge hits from players who struckout in the second inning.
Freshman Sidney Stewart hit a towering homer to left field—her second of the season—to give UW a 3-0 lead.
That was it for Landry. Enter Chloe Riassetto for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Alana Johnson greeted Riassetto with a sharp single and Rylee Holtorf followed with a homer to left centerfield – her fourth of the season to give UW a 5-0 lead.
“We could have easily given away that last at-bat with Riley and just got back on defense — because we like to play defensively — but I think it was an important moment for someone like Riley to get through that,” Tarr said.
Holtorf, a second-year shortstop, credited Espinoza, a fifth-year senior third baseman, with starting the rally with the double.
“She’s been that rally starter for us all year,” Holftorf said of Espinoza. “I think she’s just old in her at bats and you can see how mature she is and the way she carries herself, her confidence. I told her last week that hitting behind her is so great because of the confidence she has on the plate. You feel that behind her.”
Espinoza gave credit to Jadelyn Allchin, who led off the bottom of the fourth inning by being hit with a pitch, and to Kelley Lynch, who moved Allchin to second on a sacrifice bunt.
“They started that and I was the one who wanted to do that at the time,” Espinoza said.
Washington gave up a two-run single to Johnson in the fifth, and Holtorf’s runscoring single ended the game.
Meylan, who has developed into the Huskies’ leading pitcher this season, had a tough performance on Sunday, giving up six earned runs in four innings.
She recovered in a way and worked her way out of trouble a few times, but the biggest breakout came in the fifth inning, just after UW had scored five runs.
Meylan loaded the bases with two outs and faced Karly Heath, the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Meylan retired Heath on a flyout that was caught near the wall by leftfielder Sami Reynolds.
“Especially after we scored there, we shouldn’t let the other team score and I thought she did a really good job,” Tarr said of Meylan, who gave up two hits and four walks and hit two batters. “She fought back from some difficult moments but she is growing and she has learned and we are absolutely proud of her and proud of the defense that played behind her tonight.”
Meylan gave up her first basehit of the game with two outs in the fourth inning, on a double by Jourdyn Campbell. Leftfielder Sami Reynolds made a diving attempt on the line drive, but the ball came out of her glove when she hit the ground.
After a walk, Meylan struckout pinch-hitter Laney Credeur for the final out in the top of the fourth. Then came the first of two UW explosions.
“These guys are at school and they have weightlifting this morning and they deserve something good to eat,” Tarr en. “And get ready to be better tomorrow.”