Washington takes down Devils

Jaime Clark lined a double into right field to score two runs and break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning as the #6 Huskies defeated #4 Arizona State 5-2 at Husky Softball Stadium on a sunny and mild Friday afternoon.

With the victory the Huskies took sole possession of third place in the Pac-10, breaking a tie with Arizona State and improving to 11-8 and 42-16 overall, while the Sun Devils dropped to 10-9 and 40-16.

Arizona State jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off Husky starter Tia Bollinger. Missy Hixon led off with a walk, advanced to third on a single by Kara Brun, and scored on a single to right by Phelan Wright. The Sun Devils made it 2-0 in the third on walks to Nichole Thompson and Erica Beach and a single by Erin Wardein inside the third base line.

The Huskies had plenty of opportunities to plate some runs against Beach, the starter in the circle for the Sun Devils, in the first three innings, but they stranded six runners. In the first, with runners on at first and second, Beach struck out Kristen Rivera and Amanda Oleson swinging.

In the second, the Huskies had runners on at first and third but left fielder Thompson raced in to snare a line drive off the bat of Becky Simpson. Then in the third, after a walk to Rivera and a single by Oleson, Beach got Kathy Fiske to ground out to second to end the inning.

Arizona State head coach Linda Wells brought in freshman Blair Holck to relieve Beach in the bottom of the fourth, and the Huskies capitalized on the pitching change, scoring four runs.

Courtney Jeffries led off with a routine ground ball to shortstop Brun but reached safely when Wardein dropped Brun's throw to first base. Megan Owen then singled to short, just beating Brun's throw, and Steph Nicholson walked to load the bases. Wells brought Beach back into pitch to Husky leadoff batter Becky Simpson, and the move looked great for the Devils, as Beach struck out Simpson swinging on three pitches.

However, Rita Roach lined a single just in front of center fielder Jennifer Forner to get the Huskies on the board and make it 2-1. The Huskies still had the bases loaded with their leading batter, Clark, stepping into the batter's box. Clark lined a 1-2 pitch into right for a double to score Owen and Nicholson, and then when the Sun Devils attempted to throw Clark out at second, Roach raced home to give the Huskies a 4-2 lead.

Clark accounted for a valuable insurance run and made it 5-2 Huskies in the bottom of the sixth. She tripled off the yellow stripe just above the 220 marker in center field, and then, when third Sun Devil pitcher Kristen Swetel slowly walked back to the circle with the ball in her glove, swiped home easily for her 22nd stolen base of the season, tying Roach for the team lead.

Bollinger did not have her best stuff in the circle for the Huskies, but pitched long enough to get credit for the victory to improve to 19-9. She pitched four innings, allowing both runs on four hits and three walks, with two strikeouts. Ashley Boek relieved Bollinger in the fifth and pitched three perfect innings for her third save of the season. She struck out three.

Holck suffered the loss for the Sun Devils to drop to 0-1. She faced three batters without getting an out, and all of them came into score. Entering the game, Holck had not allowed a run in four innings.

The Huskies conclude the regular season on Saturday afternoon whenthey host the second ranked Arizona Wildcats in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Barring a berth as a host in NCAA Regional action beginning on Thursday, May 16, Saturday's doubleheader will mark the final home games for lone Husky senior Becky Simpson.

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