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Huskies to start play in OKC on Thursday

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Sis Bates (center) and Morganne Flores (left) celebrate the Huskies' 5-0 win over Kentucky to advance to the Women's College World Series for the third straight year. Bates, Flores, and the Huskies will take on Pac-12 rival Arizona in the first game on Thursday. 

Welcome to the beginning of the end.

For the third straight year, the No. 3 Washington softball team has made it to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. The Huskies (50-7, 20-4 Pac-12) will kick off the tournament against No. 6 Arizona at 9 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. If they win, they’ll play the winner of the matchup between No. 2 UCLA and No. 8 Minnesota on Friday; a loss would match them up with the loser of that game on Saturday.

Two years ago, the UW made the semifinals; last season the Dawgs made the championship series, where they lost to Florida State.

If that’s the beginning of a trend, there’s only one step left.

“I just hope we don’t stop getting better,” head coach Heather Tarr said after the UW’s Saturday win over No. 14 Kentucky.

Washington’s wins over No. 14 Kentucky in super regionals got the Huskies to 50 wins for the third consecutive season, and the fifth time since 2000.

Just like in recent years, this UW postseason run has been on the back of dominant pitching. Sophomore Gabbie Plain and senior Taran Alvelo have combined to allow just one run in 35 innings between the regional and the super regional. Opponents have managed just 14 hits off of the Huskies in the postseason, and have struck out 46 times.

Meanwhile, the top of the order has sparked the Washington order, led by Sis Bates and Morganne Flores leading off. Flores has driven in nine of the Huskies’ 24 runs in the past five games — at least one in each — including four home runs.

Washington has also jumped on opponents early, scoring in the first inning of every postseason game. The Huskies have not trailed in a game since May 5 — coincidentally to Arizona, in a game that ended in a 7-4 UW win to cap the first sweep in Tucson in program history.

Thursday morning’s game will air on ESPN.

Reach Sports Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at Twitter: @J_Kirshenbaum

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