#1 Washington 1, #15 Stanford 0 (8)

SEATTLE - Jenn Salling doubled home Kimi Pohlman with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as top ranked Washington closed out its regular season home schedule and celebrated Senior Day with a dramatic extra inning 1-0 victory over 15th ranked Stanford at Husky Softball Stadium on a balmy Sunday aftenoon.

With the win the Huskies swept the three game Pac-10 series and improved to 15-3 in league play and 43-5 overall while the Cardinal dropped to 5-13, 33-17.

Moments after Pohlman scored the game winner the announcement came over the public address system that UCLA (12-6 Pac-10) lost to California 4-2, clinching a share of the Pac-10 title for the Huskies. By virtue of winning the season series against the Bruins two games to one, the Huskies clinched the automatic bid that goes to the Pac-10 champion in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

The win also made it a memorable Senior Day for Amanda Fleischman, Danielle Lawrie, Alyson McWherter and Bailey Stenson in their final regular season home appearance.

A day after a then season-high crowd of 2,080 watched Lawrie beat her counterpart, Ashley Chinn, with a two run homer in the bottom of the seventh, 2,159 showed up at the yard for Sunday's finale and got to see another tense duel in the pitcher's circle between Lawrie (33-2) and Chinn (8-8).

The two pitchers kept the other team off the scoreboard through the regulation seven innings, but unlike Saturday's game they had to pitch themselves out of several jams. The Huskies had a golden opportunity to win the game in regulation when they put runners on at first and third in the bottom of the seventh with only one out, thanks to a walk to Niki Williams and a single by Morgan Stuart.

While conventional wisdom may have called for Cardinal Head Coach John Rittman to walk the next batter, Hooch Fagaly, to load the bases and set up a play at any base, he decided to have Chinn pitch to Fagaly, and she vindicated his decision by finally striking out Fagaly swinging after a nine pitch at-bat. Then Chinn proceeded to strike out Stenson swinging to send the game into extra frames.

In the top of the eighth Lawrie walked Rosey Neill to lead off the inning, and the next batter, Maya Burns, attempted to sacrifice pinch runner Teagan Gerhart into scoring position, but Fagaly alertly fielded Burns's bunt and threw to shortstop Salling in time to force Gerhart at second. Then Fagaly fielded another bunt in the air by Melisa Koutz for the second out and Lawrie struck out Jenna Becerra swinging on three pitches to send the game to the bottom of the eighth still scoreless.

Fleischman led off the bottom half with a line single to left, and Kimi Pohlman grounded into a force at second. Salling then drove a 3-2 pitch from Chinn into the alley in right center field. Husky head coach Heather Tarr waved Pohlman around third base, and it looked like second baseman Ashley Hansen's throw home was in time to nail Pohlman at the plate, as catcher Neill had the plate blocked. The ball got away from Neill however, and Pohlman, who realized that she may not have scored on her original slide, reached out with her hand to touch the plate and wrap up the victory.

For the Cardinal, Chinn suffered her second straight tough luck loss, going seven and a third innings for her sixth complete game of the season. She allowed one run on five hits and one walk. She struck out five.

For the Huskies Lawrie notched her 32nd complete game in 34 starts. She allowed only one hit and walked two, while striking out ten.

As for the other Husky seniors, Stenson finished 1 for 3 with a leadoff double in the bottom of the third, and Fleischman went 1 for 2 with a walk in the third and a single to lead off the decisive eighth. She may have also made perhaps the defensive play of the game in the top of the third when the Cardinal had runners on at second and third with only one out. Hansen lined a 2-1 pitch right to Fleischman, playing in at second, and she quickly fired to third to double up pinch runner Autumn Albers to end the the inning.

The Huskies finished their home schedule with a 16-1 mark, with the only loss coming to UCLA in their Pac-10 opener on April 1. They now finish the regular season on the road at #7/#9 Arizona State from May 13 to May 15, before finding out if they will get to host the first round of postseason play from Friday, May 21 to Sunday, May 23.


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