UW 2, UNC 1 (8)

SEATTLE - Shawna Wright doubled to score Jenn Salling with the winning run to give the third seeded Huskies a thrilling 2-1 win over North Carolina in eight innings in the regional final at Husky Softball Stadium on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.

With the win the Huskies (48-6) advanced to the best 2 of 3 super regionals and will host 14th seeded Oklahoma on Thursday, May 27 and Friday, May 28 at times still to be determined. The Tar Heels finished the season 42-20.

After losing to the Huskies 1-0 on Saturday the Tar Heels earned a rematch by beating Nebraska 1-0 in a loser out game on Sunday afternoon behind Danielle Spaulding's seventh no hitter and Kelli Wheeler's 13th home run of the season.

Washington took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Niki Williams belted her 11th home run of the season over the left field wall on the first pitch from Spaulding (21-7). There the score remained until the top of the seventh, when the Tar Heels got the tying run, the only run allowed by Danielle Lawrie (38-2) in three games in the regional. Brittany McKinney led off with a sharp ground single to center. Tisha Mahon came in to pinch run and took second on a wild pitch. Spaulding hit a little blooper between the circle and third base that Lawrie caught for the first out.

The next batter, Ally Blake, looked at two balls from Lawrie before lining a double over the head of left fielder Williams to score Mahon. Lawrie avoided any more damage, coming back to strike out Wheeler and Stephanie Murad swinging to end the inning and give her teammates a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh.

However, Spaulding would have none of that, retiring the Huskies in order to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the eighth, the Tar Heels put the potential go ahead run on base when Brittany Robinson reached on an error by Morgan Stuart. Constance Orr sacrificed pinch runner Dani Manko to second, but Lawrie got Christine Knauer to line out to left and Anna Roberts to line out to second to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, after Kimi Pohlman struck out swinging, Salling beat out an infield hit and moved to second when second baseman Kelsy Green misplayed Spauding's throw to first and let the ball roll into right field for an error. Then, whether it was to set up a double play or simply not let her beat them, the Tar Heels walked Lawrie intentionally. Wright came up to bat and nearly sent the crowd of 1760 home happily when she lined the first pitch from Spaulding down the left field line, but the ball landed just foul.

After taking ball one, Wright then grounded the next pitch inside third base and down the left field line to score Salling with the winning run. Salling raced around third, slid across the plate and then raised her arms in triumph, sending the Huskies and fans into a celebration.

Lawrie and Spaulding had another classic duel in the pitcher's circle a day after Lawrie won 1-0. In the final, Lawrie allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out 15, raising her career Pac-10 record and her all-time NCAA fourth place total yet again to 1,811. She recorded another complete game, her 37th. For her part, Spaulding got her 24th complete game, allowing two runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out nine.

While the Huskies - beyond Williams's one swing of the bat - did not have any scoring threats against Spaulding, the Tar Heels had a big scoring chance in the top of the fourth. Knauer led off with an infield single and stole second. With one out McKinney walked, putting runners on at first and second. Lawrie came up huge. She struck out Spaulding looking on three pitches and then, more importantly, avoided a bases loaded situation when she struck out Blake looking on a 3-2 pitch.

For the three games in the regional Lawrie finished 3-0, allowing one run in 22 innings for a 0.32 earned run average. She walked only one batter and struck out 39, for a strikeout per seven inning ratio of 12.41.

Dawgman.com Top Stories