Huskies reach Women's College World Series championship round
After losing 9-8 in the first game of the day, the Huskies earn a 9-3 victory over Georgia to advance to the best-of-three title round against top-seeded Florida, starting today.
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Washington's long trip will end exactly where the Huskies believe they belong, in the NCAA championship series.
Multi-tasking national player of the year Danielle Lawrie assured it with a grand slam and her 40th victory of the season in a 9-3 decision over Georgia before 4,954 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Sunday night.
"We don't take the easy road anywhere we go," Washington coach Heather Tarr said, alluding to a 9-8 loss in the first game to Georgia on Sunday.
"I don't think we could have gotten through today had we not gone through what we did to get here."
The Huskies (49-12) will meet No. 1 Florida (63-3) in a best-of-three final series that begins today, a team Lawrie has shut out once this season. Lawrie threw a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Gators on Feb. 20 in the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Ali Gardiner hit the first walkoff grand slam in Women's College World Series history, lifting Florida into the championship round with a 6-5 victory against Alabama on Sunday night.
"I'm pretty consumed with our team," Tarr said of the matchup.
"It's nine girls named Sally who we play. I don't really have a broad focus right now."
Washington's third national-championship berth comes after what has become a typical Lawrie Sunday on the road.
On May 17, Lawrie struck out 24 in a 15-inning, 6-1 victory over Massachusetts to win the final game of a regional tournament in Amherst, Mass.
Last Sunday, Lawrie hit two home runs and drove in four runs while pitching a three-hit shutout in a 7-0 victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta to clinch the super regional.
In the second game Sunday, Lawrie hit her grand slam four batters into the first inning, an opposite-field liner to right field after Ashley Charters and Kimi Pohlman chopped infield singles and Jenn Salling lined a single to center. It was Lawrie's first hit here.
"Coming back from that first game and answering back as soon as possible was key. We needed to come back and show what we were all about in that first inning. It was huge," Charters said.
Georgia (47-12) scored three runs in the third inning to make the score 5-3, but Lawrie allowed only one single the rest of the way while finishing with 12 strikeouts.
"Two weeks ago is today. When we were in UMass, it was the same thing," Lawrie said.
"They crushed me that first game. I had one inning [in the second game Sunday] when they got some runs, but then I just checked in. 'Do we want to make it to the final? OK. They're not going to score.'
"It's a mental switch that is going to be turned on the rest of the week."
Morgan Stuart homered in the last of third inning, her sixth hit of the day. She tied a series record with five hits in the first game, four singles and a double.
Niki Williams had a run-scoring single and Salling had a two-run double to finish the scoring in the sixth.
Williams hit two homers in the first game and set a series record with seven runs batted in. Her RBI in the second game gave her 10 for the series, another record.
Lawrie had her worst outing of the season in the opener, when she could not hold a 3-0 lead. She gave up nine runs, seven earned, in Georgia's 9-8, nine-inning victory, the highest-scoring game in Women's College World Series history. It took 4 hours, 15 minutes.
The Huskies were part of the previous record in a 9-7 victory over California in 1996, the first of their two previous title-game appearances. Arizona beat the Huskies that year. Washington also reached the finals in 1999, losing to UCLA.
Georgia's Brianna Hesson fouled off three 3-2 pitches from Lawrie before taking a pitch that was called outside to force in the winning run in the opening game in the ninth.
Four innings earlier, Williams' grand slam in the fifth had tied the score at 8.
Williams hit a three-run homer in the second inning to give Lawrie a 3-0 lead, but Georgia scored eight of the next nine runs, using homers by Alisa Goler and Kristin Schnake for an 8-4 lead in the fourth in scoring the most runs off Lawrie, the NCAA player of the year, in her UW career.
Williams, who had two regular-season home runs, has three here.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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