The Washington softball team is rolling.
Hooch Fagaly’s grand slam highlighted UW’s third straight dominant NCAA tournament regional win Saturday as the Huskies roared past Northwestern 9-0 in five innings in front of 969 at Husky Softball Stadium.
The Huskies’ third straight lopsided win gave coach Heather Tarr her 400th career victory and advanced Washington to a sweet-16 super regional for the ninth time in her 10-year tenure.
The 12th-seeded Huskies (36-13, winners of 12 of their last 13 games) will next face the winner of the regional hosted by fifth-seeded Florida, which plays its regional championship on Sunday. Barring an upset, Washington will be playing a best-of-three series in Gainesville, Fla., next weekend.
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Over three days, the Huskies outscored three opponents 26-0, slugged two grand slams and cut all three games short via the eight-run mercy rule. Could a postseason series go any better?
“For the most part, the team did an awesome job with picking each other up,” Tarr said in an understated summary.
“Offensively, we’re doing a lot of good things,” she said. “What I like about what we are doing is that we swing at a lot of good pitches.”
The Huskies had 10 hits against three Northwestern pitchers and drew eight walks. They scored one run each in the first inning (RBI single by freshman Ali Aguilar), third (solo home run by Aguilar, her second in three games) and fourth (RBI double by Victoria Hayward, who had two hits).
UW then scored six in the fifth: a run-scoring single by Dani Braun, a base-loaded walk drawn by Hayward (she reached base in all four at-bats) and then Fagaly’s deep slam on a 1-0 pitch that went close to straightaway center.
“Throughout the lineup, our team did really well picking each other up,” Fagaly said. “It just happened to be my turn. I’m happy that I was able to come through.”
Kaitlin Inglesby (15-4), while not as sharp as during her one-hitter Thursday against Iona, came through with a five-hitter (all singles) with two strikeouts and three walks against a Northwestern team (35-18) that began the tournament ranked ninth nationally in batting average (.332).
“I used the defense,” the senior said. “I don’t have to go out there and strike everybody out. We have great defense. I can put the ball in a good spot and they hit it right to our defense.”
So how confident is this senior-dominated team, which reached the eight-team World Series last as the No. 11 seed and came within a win of playing in the championship series?
“We couldn’t be in a better spot than we are right now,” Inglesby said. “I think we’ve really come a long way, and we’re getting tougher the tougher it gets. We’ve really learned that this season, and it has been great to watch us evolve to who we are.”
• Tarr shrugged off her 400th-win milestone. “I had no clue that was even there,” she said. “I don’t really know when these things happen, but I see other coaches have like 1,200 wins. So 400 doesn’t seem like hardly anything. But it’s pretty cool for our program to have won that many games in 10 years.”
• Seven times during Tarr’s 10 years, UW has won a regional with three straight wins. That includes the past five, all played at Husky Softball Stadium. In 2012 UW shut out all three opponents but scored just eight total runs.
• UW has won seven of its last 10 games via mercy-rule decisions.