Washington Rallies for Win Behind Big Blasts

Nebraska falters down strech, Washington hits the long ball in comeback, beats NU 7-6.

Lincoln --- Aimee Minor and Sarah Hyatt each belted a pair of home runs to lead No. 22 Washington to a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over No. 22 Nebraska Saturday at the NCAA Regional at Bowlin Stadium. With the win, the Huskies advance to Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game while the Huskers get a short rest before facing the winner of the Iowa-Creighton game at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Minor and Hyatt combined for five of the Huskies' 14 hits on the day, including four home runs with a combined six RBIs. The pair, who helped Washington rank fourth nationally entering the weekend with 1.44 home runs per game, connected on back-to-back home runs in the second and sixth inning to help UW improve to 16-5 on the year when hitting at least two home runs.

NU sophomore pitcher Ashley DeBuhr had quieted the Washington bats for three innings before Minor's blast tied the game in the sixth. Ashley Charters led off the frame by reaching on an error before Kristen Rivera, the Huskies' top slugger with 19 home runs this season, poked a single through to put two on. With one out, Minor lifted a wind-aided shot over the fence in right centerfield to knot the score at 6-all.

Hyatt then followed for the second time in the game with a shot off the face of the scoreboard in left field to set off a celebration in the UW dugout. It was the Huskies' first lead since going ahead 3-0 in the second inning, as DeBuhr had set down the Huskies with the bases loaded twice during that span.

Nebraska forced UW to leave 13 on base while striking out 13 times. It was the second straight regional contest DeBuhr recorded at least 10 strikeouts, as she had 11 on the day, but the Huskies also got their hits as Nebraska allowed a season-high 14 hits while falling to 16-1 on the year when scoring at least six runs. NU also fell to 23-2 when plating at least four runs this season.

Minor got the scoring started as she hit a solo shot to straightaway center field to lead off the top of the second inning to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Hyatt followed with a smash over the leftfield scoreboard to put UW ahead by a pair of runs.

DeBuhr then struck out Caitlin Noble and Lauren Greer before Jacki Hansen reached on a walk. Hansen moved to second on Ashley Boek's hit-and-run single up the middle to put runners at first and second. Dominique Lestrapes' single to right scored Hansen from second to make it a 3-0 lead.

Rivera then struck out for the second straight inning, but the ball got away from NU catcher Jamie Waldecker and Rivera reached first to load the bases. Kathy Fiske then hit a harmless grounder to third for the final out of the frame.

Trisha Tannahill recorded the Huskers' first hit of the game in the bottom half of the second with a slow roller down the third base line that barely stayed fair. Waldecker was then hit by a pitch to put two on before Noble walked Devin Porter to load the bases with only one out for Carmen Kier.

Kier entered the day with five hits in her last 13 at bats since returning from an injury. While she didn't get a hit, she did reach on a fielder's choice that scored Tannahill and put the Huskers on the board. When Charters tried to get Waldecker at third on the play, the ball got away from Fiske and Waldecker scored to cut it to a one-run deficit while Porter and Kier advanced to third and second, respectively.

Designated hitter Cassie Kleinsmith then rapped a double to the fence in left field to score Porter but Kier was gunned down at the plate to keep the game tied at 3-3. Noble was then replaced by Ashley Boek, who got out of the jam as Anne Steffan was called out a first for the third out of the frame.

With the game tied at 3-all, Jessica Yoachim was hit by the first pitch of the third inning and moved to second on Lizzy Rock's perfectly executed sacrifice back to the circle. Yoachim scored from second on Shena Lawrick's single up the middle to give the Huskers a 4-3 lead. Nebraska then loaded the bases for the second time in the game with two outs, but Kier popped up to the catcher to get UW out of the frame allowing just one run.  

In the fourth, the Huskers added two more runs for a 6-3 lead. Steffan beat out a throw for a single and moved up on Yoachim's sacrifice. With two outs, Rock reached on an error and advanced to third while Steffan came home. Rock crossed the plate when Lawrick ripped a single to right field for her second RBI of the game.


Washington game notes:
**-- Aimee Minor hit her 16th and 17th home runs of the season with a solo shot in the second innning and a three-run shot in the sixth. The blast in the second frame was the first for the Huskies in the postseason and the first at this weekend at the Lincoln Regional. Minor had eight career home runs entering the season and has now hit twice as many in 2005.

**-- Sarah Hyatt followed Minor with a towering shot over the scoreboard, and Hyatt and Minor also went back-to-back in the sixth to give UW the lead. Hyatt now has 15 home runs this season to rank third on the team.

**-- The Huskies hit four home runs against the Huskers and now have 76 homers as a team this season. UW entered the postseason ranked fourth in the nation with 1.44 home runs per game and 10th in slugging percentage.

**--Minor entered the weekend tied for 20th nationally in home runs per game and Hyatt was tied for 27th. Kristen Rivera was the Huskies' top slugger entering the weekend, but went 1-for-4 in the game.

Nebraska game notes:
**-- Ashley DeBuhr had mixed results against the Huskies as she struck out 11 but allowed four home runs along with a season-high 12 hits.

**-- DeBuhr finished with 11 strikeouts in the game, her second straight double-figure strikeout contest in NCAA Tournament play. DeBuhr now has 15 double-figure strikeout contests this season and has 28 strikeouts against five walks in the regional.

**-- DeBuhr struck out three UW batters in each of the second and third innings and now has struck out at least three in 6-of-12 innings in regional action.

**-- Cassie Kleinsmith's RBI double in the second inning that tied the score at 3-3 was her third two-bagger of the year and first since April 23. It was also her sixth RBI of the season and first since driving in two against No. 10 Oklahoma in Norman on April 30.

**-- The Huskers entered the game with a 23-1 record when scoring at least four runs in a game this season, but was 11-17 when scoring fewer than four runs.

**-- Lizzy Rock increased her school record with her 26th sacrifice of the year. Rock's sacrifice came in the third inning and set up Nebraska to take the lead in the next at bat.

**-- Shena Lawrick finished the game going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. It increased Lawrick's team lead to 48 RBIs, which ties for seventh in NU single-season history. It was also her team-leading 14th multi-RBI contest this year.



Washington Coach Heather Tarr

On the game:

"What a great game, that's why you play this game. That's what you play the postseason for. This team did a great job coming back. There was solid defense at the end and these two players (Aimee Minor and Sarah Hyatt), what can you say? They're copycats."


"Momentum-wise, as a team I think we felt pretty solid, but this team knows better than most teams that a 3-0 lead is not good enough. You never know what's going to happen, especially against a team like Nebraska, who has a lot of heart, has a lot of speed and puts a lot of people on the basepaths.


"It's happened to us time and time again, having a 3-0 lead and losing it, or being down 3-0 and coming back. They're used to it. They don't let it phase them. They do a good job just keeping the game planted at 0-0 (in their minds)."


Sarah Hyatt

On Nebraska pitcher Ashley Debuhr:

"She is a good pitcher. She hit her spots. Her speed isn't overpowering, so most of our plans going up there were to look out and she gave us some good pitches to hit. She didn't pitch out and she hit her spots. I tried to use Aimee (Minor's) momentum that she started."


Aimee Minor

On her three-run home run in the sixth inning:

"You don't really go up there looking for a home run. In that situation I was just looking to get the ball in play and try to get us a chance to score some runs."



Nebraska Coach Rhonda Revelle

On the physical nature of the game:

"It was really a physical game. It was an out-and-out dogfight."


On the home runs hit off of NU pitcher Ashley Debuhr:

"The first home run, it was really a pitcher's count. We were trying to get the ball up over (the batter's) head to see if she would chase it, because she has a history of chasing some pitches out of the zone like that. Ashley (DeBuhr) just missed her spot. In the first home run to (Sarah) Hyatt, it was a hitter's count and a low pitch. She just turned on it and got it. In the later innings, I just think Ashley started to fatigue a little bit. That was more of the story than anything else.


On facing the 3-0 deficit:

"We got focused and said, 'Let's take it one at a time, not try to get it all back at once.' We knew it was early in the ballgame, we still had some time. We were able to take Noble out of the game, who was actually their fresher pitcher. I thought we did a very nice job offensively. Any time you score six runs on that caliber of team, you hope that it would be enough to win.


Sheena Lawrick

On taking positives from the loss:

"Losing any one-run game always hurts, but, again, we scored six runs on a good team. I think our offense is starting to come together, and for us that's a great time. We've been looking for it all year, and it's coming here when we need it the most."

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