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Originally published Friday, March 4, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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NW College Sports

Weekly notebook: Noble's efforts already setting records

"Go Big or Go Home" is the motto of the 12th-ranked Washington softball team, and freshman pitcher Caitlin Noble is taking it to heart. In just her third start...

"Go Big or Go Home" is the motto of the 12th-ranked Washington softball team, and freshman pitcher Caitlin Noble is taking it to heart.

In just her third start of the season, Noble broke the school record for most strikeouts in a regulation game with 16 against Willamette in six innings. The record was extra sweet for Noble, who topped the previous mark of 15 strikeouts by Eve Gaw, set in 1995. Gaw, a former All-American, is now the Huskies' pitching coach.

"By the last inning I knew I had a shot at it," Noble said. "And it was fun to do it with my family and former teammates and coaches in the stands. It was kind of fun knowing it was coach Gaw's record, too."

Said Gaw, "I think it's awesome that she broke the record. I've known Caitlin since she was 8, and there is nobody that I'd rather have break it. She has all the physical tools to be successful at this level."

Last weekend, Noble became the third freshman in Washington history to toss a no-hitter, in the 4-0 win over Kansas at the Palm Springs Classic. She became the first pitcher to hold a team hitless since senior Ashley Boek did it against Morehead State in 2003.

For Noble, a graduate of Eastlake High School in Sammamish, attending Washington was a dream come true. She had attended every Huskies softball camp since she was 7 and took private pitching lessons from Gaw for three years.

"I always wanted to be a Husky," said Noble.

Noble is off to a superb rookie campaign, recording 74 strikeouts in 41 innings this season. Yet she is 3-3 after hard-luck losses in which the Huskies couldn't score. She boasts a 2.23 earned-run average and has three shutouts in seven appearances.

"Caitlin is going to be a great person to build this program around," coach Heather Tarr said. "She's competitive, intelligent and has a lot of room to grow. She has a great work ethic and over time has the ability to develop into one of the nation's premier pitchers."

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"Pitching in the College World Series has always been a goal of mine," added Noble, whose Huskies have played in the past two and seven overall. "I know that I am going to have to continue to improve during the season and win some ballgames to take some pressure off Ashley. Having a balanced pitching staff is going to be key to us making a run at the national title."

Washington sports

Softball: The Huskies lead the Pac-10 with 28 stolen bases in 15 games, 11 short of their total in all 59 games last season. Freshman Ashley Charters (Newberg, Ore.) tops the conference with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. The Huskies compete in the Las Vegas Classic this weekend.

Men's swimming: Entering the Pac-10 championships this week, freshman Bruno Barbic (Zagreb, Croatia) was on a roll, setting school records in the 50 and 100 freestyles.

Gymnastics: The No. 22 gymnastics team got a much-needed week off and will face No. 9 Iowa State, No. 11 Oregon State and UC-Davis today in the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational in Covallis, Ore. Senior Molly Seaman (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), out for all but one meet this season after knee surgery, should return to the beam and bars. Senior Carly Dockendorf (Port Moody, B.C.) rested her partially torn groin aggravated against California on Feb. 18. The Huskies will be without freshman Julie Medeiros (Vancouver, B.C.) for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in her left foot.

Men's tennis: No. 21 Washington (9-2) hits the road for the first time this season after wrapping up an 11-match homestand with a 6-1 win over Oregon on Sunday. The Huskies travel to San Diego State on Sunday and the University of San Diego on Monday.

Women's tennis: No. 8 Washington (9-1) is led by the nation's No. 5 singles player, Dea Sumantri . The Huskies senior is 20-6 and has defeated 11 ranked opponents. They play at San Diego today and at San Diego State tomorrow.

Seattle Pacific

Gymnastics: Seattle Pacific seeks its first home win today vs. Sacramento State and the first victory over the Hornets since 2001. The Falcons fell to No. 2 nationally, behind Centenary (La.) this week.

Men's basketball: Entering the week, Jason Chivers (Los Angeles) had converted his last 14 field goals over two games, and Jordan Lee (Life Christian of Tacoma) was coming off 77 points in the previous four.

Women's basketball: With another win in Alaska this week, the Falcons (23-2) will likely clinch the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for the West Regional. Michelle Beaumont (Sehome of Bellingham) has reached 1,000 career points.

Seattle U.

Men's basketball: Entering the week, Bernard Seals (Sacramento, Calif.) averaged 25.7 points in his previous six games, second in GNAC games behind only Alaska-Fairbanks' Brad Oleson .

Women's basketball: In the four games before this week, senior Thresia Busch (Milan, Kan.) led the team in both scoring (13.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.0).

Softball: The Redhawks, ranked No. 26 in NCAA Division II, open their season this weekend at the Red Lion Inn Central Washington Softball Invitational.

Washington St.

Baseball: Jay Miller (Newport of Bellevue) is hitting .404 after batting .588 while collecting 10 hits, including three doubles, against Hawaii. His .404 batting average ranks 10th, and his 23 hits are tied for sixth among Pac-10 batters.

Women's basketball: Sophomore Kate Benz (Portland, Ore.) ended the season averaging 9.1 rebounds, 0.6 per game more than Oregon's Cathrine Kraayeveld in the Pac-10. Her 247 rebounds makes her the first Cougar to lead the conference in rebounding and is fifth on the school's season rebounding list.

Track and field: WSU's women set 19 personal bests and eight season bests at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships last weekend, and the Cougars men had 14 PRs and eight season bests. Among those were two pole vaulters: redshirt sophomore Tyson Byers (University of Spokane) cleared 17 feet, 7 ¼ inches, and senior Paul Nicoletti (Snohomish) 17-5 ½, 6 ¾ inches better than his PR.

Western Washington

Men's basketball: Western Washington (20-5, 12-4 GNAC entering the week) can win its second conference title in four years with victories with a win in its final regular-season game. The Vikings, who beat Seattle U. last night, plays tomorrow at Northwest Nazarene. They were in a three-way tie for the inaugural league title in 2002.

Women's basketball: Entering the week, senior guard/forward Jodi Gerald (Cascade Christian of Puyallup) had double-doubles (points and rebounds) in three of the last four games and had scored double-figure points in 14 of 17 contests for Western (22-4, 14-3 GNAC).

Other colleges

Eastern Washington: On the same day against the same school last Saturday, Eagles seniors Marc Axton (Foss of Tacoma) and Stephanie Ulmer (Ellensburg) set school records for career three-pointers made. Axton had six in an Eagles men's loss at Montana State to give him 183 in his career entering this week's Big Sky tournament. Ulmer has 187 threes and went over the 1,000-point mark in her career in Saturday's win.

Gonzaga: Senior right fielder Jeff Culpepper (Woodinville) was named the West Coast Conference player of the week after going 7 for 11 with six runs batted in, two doubles and one triple as the Bulldogs swept Utah Valley State last weekend. Culpepper leads the WCC with a .529 batting average.

Pacific Lutheran: Aundi Kustura (Astoria, Ore.) and Kelly Turner (Sherwood, Ore.) were named to the All-Northwest Conference women's basketball team, Kustura to the second team and Turner as honorable mention. Kustura led the Lutes in scoring with a 12.5 average and set PLU record for career three-point field goal percentage, 36.3. Turner, who averaged 12.3, set a school record by making 89.4 percent of her free-throw attempts.

Puget Sound: The Loggers became the first team since the 1986-87 season to successfully defend an outright NWC men's basketball championship over the weekend, as the Loggers posted their second consecutive 15-1 conference record. The seventh-ranked Loggers (21-3) will host a NCAA Division III second-round game tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Saint Martin's: Seniors Nate Carlson (Pateros) and Andy Prentice (Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls) have qualified to compete at the NCAA Division II indoor track-and-field championships on March 11-12 in Boston. Carlson ran the nation's ninth-fastest mile while setting a GNAC record at 4:09.56. Prentice qualified with a time of 1:52.62 (11th nationally, GNAC season best) in the 800 meters.

Whitman: After placing third and fifth in races last weekend, Laura Valaas (Wenatchee) was named Skier of the Week in women's cross country by the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. Valaas, a junior, and sophomore teammate Emma Lohr (Anchorage, Alaska) wrapped up the regular season by qualifying for the NCAA Championships next Wednesday through Saturday in Stowe, Vt.

Elsewhere: Arizona State's Travis Buck (Richland), a preseason All-American, snapped out of a slump to hit .571 (8 for 14) with six runs and six RBI as the Sun Devils took two of three games against Baylor. Buck, whose first home run this season was a winning grand slam that came with two out in the top of the seventh of the opener, was named Pac-10 player of the week.

Sports information directors

contributed to this notebook.

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