It didn’t take long for the No. 6 Washington softball team to assert itself Friday evening inside Husky Softball Stadium.
Playing its first top-five opponent of the season, No. 5 Oregon, Washington jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind a two-run home run from junior Baylee Klingler in the first inning.
Senior pitcher Gabbie Plain (21-0) continued to shut down opposing bats, striking out six straight Ducks to open the game, as the Huskies cruised to a 8-0 run-rule victory to open the series.
“In general, the team loves playing behind [Plain], she’s dominant,” head coach Heather Tarr said. “She’s as good as she’s ever been for us and it’s cool to watch, it’s cool to see, and I think this team values that.”
Unlike Plain, Oregon starting pitcher Brooke Yanez (14-3) could not find her groove Friday night, failing to make it out of the second inning. She suffered her third loss of the season, walking three batters across 1 1/3 innings of work and allowing four earned runs.
After Klingler’s home run in the first inning, Washington scored two more in the second, drawing two singles off of Yanez before Makenna Kliethermes took over in the circle. While the Ducks (27-6, 6-4 Pac-12) switched up pitchers, it did not change the Huskies’ (32-5, 10-2) production at the plate. Graduate senior Sis Bates hit an RBI single and Klingler followed with a sac fly to increase the lead to 4-0.
“We worked all week to get ourselves to where we want to be offensively,” Tarr said. “Whoever we were gonna face we were going to do what we could do to produce for the team.”
Seattle’s warmest temperatures of the year aided in the UW’s continued offensive success, as junior Sami Reynolds lifted a solo home run into the right center field bleachers in the third inning which extended the lead to five. There was no slowing down in the fourth, as Oregon gifted Washington two more runs after two singles, two wild pitches, and an error scored two runs to make it 7-0.
Plain held the Oregon bats in check, reaching a dozen strikeouts in just five innings, walking none and allowing just one ball to leave the infield on 68 pitches.
“It always helps, when you can get out a little bit early and keep the pitch count down, but the nice weather is definitely going to be a help as well,” Plain said.
The run-rule came into play in the fifth inning, as sophomore Kelley Lynch hit a game-ending RBI single to right field. Fifth-year senior Taryn Atlee scored the eighth and final run, jogging home from second base on Lynch’s single to a parade of teammates rushing out of the dugout.
After a one hour and 44 minute dismantling Friday, the Huskies will hope to repeat their success against the Ducks on Saturday afternoon in a doubleheader. Game 1 of the doubleheader is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Reach Co-Sports Editor Anthony Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb
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