Once is nice. Twice is better.
Less than 24 hours after sophomore Gabbie Plain threw the second no-hitter of her career, the Australian ace went out and did it again, striking out 10 Seattle U batters and not allowing a hit in a 1-0 win.
“She’s been on fire ever since she got here,” redshirt junior catcher Morganne Flores said. “She moves the ball so well and brings it in the zone.”
And Plain came so close to even more.
After retiring the first 20 batters she faced, Madison Cathcart, Seattle U’s No. 3 hitter, stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, representing the tying run.
“We didn’t want to take any chances, so if that meant going around her, so be it,” Plain said. “I could have gone after her a bit better. I guess I sort of psyched myself out a little bit. It happens.”
Plain (9-0) fell behind in the count 3-0, before painting a fastball on the corner that home plate umpire Megan Rabin didn’t quite like enough.
“It was close,” head coach Heather Tarr said. “It could have gone either way.”
The walk ended Plain’s bid for her second career perfect game, but she bounced back, needing just four pitches to get Bailey Thompson to bounce out to Nawai Kaupe at third for the final out of her second consecutive no-no.
“I feel like I’m the best version of me when I’m calm and relaxed,” Plain said. “If I’m calm and I remain calm, no matter what, I usually come out pretty okay.”
“Okay” is one word for it.
She becomes the first pitcher in UW history to throw back-to-back perfect games, and is the sixth Husky to throw multiple no-hitters in the same season. Dating back to the fourth inning of Washington’s win over Ohio State on Friday, Plain has thrown 17 hitless innings in a row.
The 10-strikeout outing gives Plain an even 100 punchouts so far this season.
“It’s awesome to be behind the plate and to catch her,” Flores said.
The UW batters were having nearly as much trouble against Seattle U starter Carley Nance as the Redhawks were having against Plain. Washington put runners on base in every inning, but couldn’t push anything at all across until the bottom of the fifth, when Taryn Atlee — the first runner either team got to third base — came home on a passed ball to give Plain the only run she needed.
“We put ourselves in a position to have to do that unfortunately, but it was a great game,” Tarr said.
But Plain didn’t have the only dominating performance of the day for UW — just the most dominant.
For a good two hours, it looked like Taran Alvelo was going to have the most noteworthy outing, as the senior nearly threw a no-hitter herself in a five-inning 8-0 win over Idaho State.
Alvelo took a perfect game into the fourth inning, but MaKenzie Van Sickle broke up the bid one out into the frame with a bunt down the first base line.
A walk in the top of the fifth was the only other runner the Bengals could manage on the game. Alvelo (11-2) struck out nine and needed just 71 pitches to earn the win.
The UW batters went for the knockout blow right out of the gate, batting around in the bottom of the first with a six-run rally.
“It’s a matter of contagiousness, Tarr said. “Offenses are contagious, they feed off of each other. You know what you’re going to get, you kind of fire each other up. This group’s going to get it. It’s just going to take a little bit longer than we probably want.”
Emma Helm, who doubled in a run in the first inning on a ball off the wall in right-center, continued the scoring in the second, hitting her next ball about 20 feet to the left and 10 feet farther for her third home run of the season.
The games capped off a near-immaculate weekend for the UW pitching staff. The Huskies shut out their opponents in all six games, allowing six total hits, including just two combined in the final four matchups.
“We’re so excited for each other all the time,” Plain said. “We just love being around each other where we feed off each other and it’s an incredible game to watch.”
Reach Sports Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @J_Kirshenbaum