Washington falls to California in NCAA softball super regionals
Sunday's 2-0 loss to the top-seeded Bears put an end to an up-and-down Huskies season.
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BERKELEY, Calif. — One diving catch, one swing of the bat, one season over.
Two pivotal plays Sunday ended the 2012 campaign for the Washington softball team. California left fielder Jamia Reid made an inning-ending diving catch with the bases loaded in the bottom of first inning, and the Bears' Cheyenne Cordes smacked a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth for a 2-0 victory in Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regionals.
Top-seeded Cal (56-5) won the best-of-three series 2-0 to advance to the Women's College World Series for the second year in a row.
"The best part about the end is that we're not that far away from where we want to be," Huskies coach Heather Tarr said. "It's a game of inches. It shows our team that we can't take anything for granted."
The loss ended an up-and-down season for the Huskies (39-19). Washington began the season 32-1 and ascended as high as No. 3 in the rankings. It proceeded to lose 16 of 20 to end the regular season. The Huskies turned things around briefly to win the Seattle Regional last weekend, but didn't have enough against the nation's No. 1 team.
"I think it was good for us," said center fielder Kimi Pohlman, one of four UW seniors. "It wasn't the position we wanted to be in. But it taught our young girls a lot. Down the road, it will make this program stronger."
The Huskies were in position to get to Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson early.
They took advantage of a tight strike zone and also exhibited discipline at the plate to load the bases on a pair of walks and a single with one out in the first inning. After Hooch Fagaly lined to third base for the second out, Shawna Wright drove a sinking liner down the left-field line. Reid sprinted over and made a lunging catch just above the turf.
"I just thought if anything is hit out here, I'm catching it no matter what," Reid said.
The Huskies also drew two walks to put runners on first and second with two outs in the second, but Nikia Williams struck out looking to end the uprising.
Washington starter Bryana Walker cruised through the early portions of the game. She retired the first eight batters she faced before issuing a two-out walk in the third. A walk and an error by shortstop Courtney Gano put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but Walker got Jace Williams to hit into a double play.
After Cal's Breana Kostreba lined a leadoff single in the fifth, Walker retired the next two batters on fly balls. But Cordes blasted one over the scoreboard in left field for the only runs of the game.
"I had a plan of attack against her, but unfortunately I just missed a spot," Walker said.
Henderson settled down after the second, giving up just a pair of singles.
"We had to attack her early. Once we let go of the rope, she grabbed ahold of it and then it becomes a tug of war," Tarr said. "Usually a great pitcher finds a way to win those games, and she's a great pitcher. We tip our cap."