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Originally published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 8:23 PM

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Husky softball team plays its first game of the season in Seattle

Despite a slow start, coach Heather Tarr believes her latest Washington softball team is capable of a customarily strong UW finish. The 18th-ranked Huskies (10-5...

Special to The Seattle Times

Wednesday

UW @ Seattle U, 6 p.m.

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Despite a slow start, coach Heather Tarr believes her latest Washington softball team is capable of a customarily strong UW finish.

The 18th-ranked Huskies (10-5) make their local debut Wednesday at 6 p.m. when they face Seattle University (7-5) at renovated Logan Field on the SU campus (12th and Jefferson).

This is just the second time in nine seasons under Tarr a UW team has five losses 15 games into a season. The Huskies were 30-1 at the start of the 2012 season 20-1 in 2011 and 23-1 in 2010, the senior season of All-American pitcher Danielle Lawrie.

In a San Diego tournament two weeks ago, Washington scored just two runs in three straight losses, two of them shutouts.

"We had people on base, but just didn't get the clutch hits," Tarr said. "It's not what we expected, not what we've had happen over the last two or three years at this time of year. I think it's all part of the process of this team forming itself."

UW has won five straight since, and four last week in a Palm Springs tournament when UW defeated Florida State (ranked 23rd at the time) 2-0 and then-No. 13 Georgia 14-2 as the Bulldogs, behind their No. 2 pitcher, dropped their fourth straight.

"It's definitely a work in progress," Tarr said of a squad where her top four hitters and top two pitchers are all juniors. "I don't know if this team has its full identity yet, which isn't a bad thing. But it caused a little bit of a slow offensive start for us."

Still, the Huskies rank second among the Pac-12's nine softball schools in hitting (.331), though sixth in runs scored (80).

A noteworthy change from last season appears at the top of Washington's rotation, where Bryana Walker (7-2, 1.56 earned-run average) has made nine starts compared to just two for the leader of UW's staff the past two seasons, Kaitlin Inglesby (2-2, 2.35).

"Bryana's been awesome. This is really her first year that she's been healthy," Tarr said, recalling how Walker, who threw seven no-hitters in high school, needed a rod inserted into one leg as a freshman to reinforce a tibia.

"She didn't have a freshman year that was a learning year," Tarr said. "Last year was her learning year. She's a smart pitcher. This is really what our expectation of her was; she just wasn't ready for it when she first got here."

The 6-foot-1 Inglesby went 19-11 (2.31 ERA) in 30 starts last year, Walker 10-6 (2.36) in 15 starts. Tarr points out Walker shut out Harvard in last year's regional final and no-hit California for four-plus innings in a super regional matchup.

"I think we have a good one-two punch," said Tarr. "If the pitching staff can settle in and give us the expectation the offense just needs to score two or three runs, that's exactly what softball is at the highest level."

Notes

• UW's top bats belong to Hooch Fagaly (.439), Victoria Hayward (.396), Inglesby (.372 and a team-high 18 runs batted in), Kelli Suguro of Kentridge (.360) and sophomore Kimberlee Souza (.341).

• Seattle U swept a doubleheader vs. Northwest U on Saturday on its new home field, but the school considers Wednesday's UW game the grand opening.

• This is the first time in nine meetings Seattle U has hosted UW. Coach Dan Powers is in his 10th season at SU.

UW softball under coach Heather Tarr

Year/First 15/Final rank/Final postseason round

2013/10-5

2012/14-1/No. 14/Super regional

2011/15-0/No. 12/Super regional

2010/14-1/No. 3/World Series

2009/15-0/No. 1/National champions

2008/9-5-1/Unranked/Regional

2007/13-2/No. 3 (tie)/World Series

2006/12-3/No. 17/Super regional

2005/11-4/No. 14/Super regional

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