Washington 1, North Carolina 0

SEATTLE - Danielle Lawrie struck out Kelli Wheeler with the tying run on at second in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the Huskies survive a tense pitchers' duel and escape with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina in a winner's bracket game of the NCAA regional at Husky Softball Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the win the Huskies (47-6) advanced to the regional championship game at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. They will play North Carolina (41-19), Nebraska or North Dakota State for a berth in super regionals May 28-30 pending the outcomes of two loser out games on Saturday night.

As the designated visiting team the Huskies, behind the typically stellar pitching of Lawrie, took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh. She got some nice glovework from her teammates for the first two outs of the inning.

Brittany McKinney led off with a sharp ground ball that looked like a base hit into the hole between first and second base, but Hooch Fagaly made a nice play to backhand the ball with her glove and step on first for the unassisted putout. Danielle Spaulding then hit a soft line drive that shortstop Jenn Salling raced into shallow left field to catch for the second out.

With one big out left to get the partisan crowd rose to its feet as Ally Blake stepped into the batter's box. She quickly fell behind in the count, looking at two called strikes. The crowd then started a rhythmic applause, anticipating a third strike, but after taking two balls and fouling away a pitch, Blake hushed the crowd with a line single to center and took second when the ball got away from a diving Alyson McWherter.

Wheeler then came to the plate representing the winning run. With the count 2-2, Wheeler fouled off two pitches and then Lawrie finally struck her out swinging to send the fans to the exits just as the skies opened up and rain came pouring down.

With the strikeout to end the game, Lawrie (37-2), finished with 11, raising her Pac-10 career record and fourth place NCAA all-time total to 1.796. She allowed only two hits, a bunt single by Christine Knauer to lead off the first and Blake's hit in the seventh, in notching her 22nd shutout and 36th complete game of the season.

She outdueled Spaulding (20-6), who, one day after firing her fifth no hitter of the season against Nebraska in a 1-0 win, showed again why she won the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year. Spaulding allowed only three hits and three walks and struck out 12.

The only run of the game came in the top of the first, when Kimi Pohlman drove a 2-0 pitch over the head of center fielder Dani Manko for a double, took third on an infield hit by Jenn Salling, and scored when Stephanie Murad's attempt to throw out Salling at first instead went into right field for an error. Salling took second on the error and moved to third on a flyout to center by Lawrie. After Shawna Wright lined out, Niki Williams got hit by a pitch and stole second to put Huskies on at second and third, but Spaulding got out of the inning by striking out Fagaly.

The Tar Heels got a scare in the top of the third when Spaulding got hit around the mouth by a Salling line drive, but she shook it off and eventually recorded her 22nd complete game of the season.

To earn a rematch against the Huskies on Sunday the Tar Heels would have to beat the winner of the loser-out game between Nebraska and North Dakota State.

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