The 12th-seeded Huskies (35-14) advance to face Brigham Young (39-17) Friday at 3 p.m. in the second round at Husky Softball Stadium.
The Washington softball team reached the Women’s College World Series the past two seasons relying on a skillful pitcher who swings a powerful bat. Freshman Kaitlin Inglesby gives the Huskies hope that they might make a third straight trip.
Two-time national player of the year Danielle Lawrie is gone, but Portland native Inglesby continued her good-arm/good-bat output Thursday night to help Washington cruise to a 6-2 win over Portland State in its NCAA tournament opener in front of 1,035 at Husky Softball Stadium.
The 12th-seeded Huskies (35-14) advance to face Brigham Young (39-17) Friday at 3 p.m. in the second round of the double-elimination regional. The Cougars defeated 21st-ranked Auburn 2-1 earlier Thursday.
Win that game and UW will play again Saturday for the regional championship at 2:30. Lose, and they play at 8 p.m. Friday.
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The 6-foot-1 Inglesby, not as overpowering as Lawrie, kept Portland State hitters guessing with a mix of heat and changeups, striking out nine and nearly recording a shutout until Amber Wiser smacked a two-out double in the seventh inning with two aboard.
Inglesby, UW’s leader in batting average, home runs and runs batted in during Pac-10 play, recorded two hits in three at-bats and drove in a pair of runs with a based-loaded single in the fifth.
“Nine strikeouts,” said UW coach Heather Tarr, who does not permit her freshmen to talk to the media. “I’d say she did a pretty good job.”
Portland State coach Tobin Echo-Hawk was impressed.
“She did a nice job of hitting her spots, and she got out of jams when she needed to,” she said. “If you compare her to a Danielle Lawrie, she (Lawrie) is in a different league. But (Inglesby) definitely has the potential to be a pretty dominating pitcher.”
“Her changeup kind of threw us off,” she said. “She definitely mixed it up and kept us off-balance.”
Both teams finished with six hits.
The Huskies picked up two runs on wild pitches by Anna Bertrand in the second and fourth innings. Morgan Stuart, who tripled, scored in the second and Shawna Wright, aboard on an error, came home in the fourth innings.
Niki Williams, Washington’s leader in home runs, stroked her 14th of the year, deep to left on a 0-1 pitch in the third with Jenn Salling, who had doubled, aboard.
“I thought it was a pop up,” Williams said with a laugh.