For many games now, the No. 2 Washington softball team had been playing with fire.
Looking at its 7-1 record, consistent pitching wouldn’t seem to be an issue for the Huskies, but outside of senior Gabbie Plain, success has been hard-pressed in the circle so far this season.
The luck finally ran out Friday morning, as Washington pitchers struggled, allowing nine hits in an 8-5 loss to Nevada.
Initially, it looked like Washington sophomore starter Kelley Lynch was going to roll right through the Nevada lineup, working around a few base runners for a scoreless first three frames, striking out six along the way. Following solo home runs from junior Baylee Klingler and sophomore Jadelyn Allchin in the third, the Huskies looked well on their way to their seventh victory of the season.
Then, the Wolf Pack started stringing hits together.
A single and a walk forced Lynch out of the game, as Washington head coach Heather Tarr called on sophomore Brooke Nelson to take over. A new arm in the circle didn’t make a difference, as Nevada drew a walk, then slapped a double to bring home two to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth.
Two strikeouts and a ground out eventually got Nelson out of the inning, but the struggles continued in the fifth.
The mix of Lynch and Nelson allowed a walk and four hits to open the inning, as the Wolf Pack took a 5-2 lead. Junior Pat Moore came in to clean up the damage, but not before Nevada stretched its lead to 6-2.
Washington fought back, scoring three runs on four hits in the sixth inning, but was unable to produce any more, trailing 6-5 heading to the bottom of the inning. Even the usually consistent Plain struggled in relief, as Nevada scored its seventh and eighth runs of the game on two walks and two singles in the bottom of the sixth.
Washington managed a single from freshman Lilly Agan in the seventh, but that was all she wrote on the UW comeback attempt, as the Huskies lost their first game of the year.
UW run-rules Dixie State in game two
Fifteen outs, 14 strikeouts.
That’s how efficient Plain was in the second game of the day against Dixie State, as Washington bounced back with a five inning run-rule, 9-0.
The Huskies dominated the Trailblazers (1-6) with a 10-1 advantage in hits, scoring five of their runs via the home run.
Unlike in game one, the offense heated up early for Washington, with two runs scoring in the first inning. The first came from a double steal by junior Sami Reynolds and fifth-year senior Sis Bates. Fifth-year senior Morganne Flores later followed with a solo home run to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
Most of Washington’s runs came in a five-run third inning. Klingler started the inning off with her team-leading sixth home run of the season to stretch the UW lead to 3-0.
A Lynch 2-RBI double highlighted the rest of the inning’s scoring, which was surrounded by a series of hits from juniors SilentRain Espinoza and Ari Quiñones. Agan recorded her first collegiate RBI as Washington took a 7-0 lead into the fourth inning.
With the offense heating up, Plain held down the Trailblazers, allowing only two base runners, stranding them both in the fourth inning. Her first 10 outs of the game all came via the strikeout.
Senior Noelle Hee put the run-rule into play with her first home run of the season, a 2-run blast, in the fourth inning, to stretch the UW lead to 9-0.
Plain shut the door in the fifth, capping off her second complete game shutout of the season.
Washington will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. when it faces Utah State in the second day of the Dixie State Classic.
Reach Assistant Sports Editor Anthony Edwards at email@example.com. Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb
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