UW's Taran Alvelo looked almost nonchalant as she struck out eight batters to post her first career no-hitter and get UW its first win at NCAA regionals
No-hitter? No big deal.
In keeping with the “leave no doubt” and “one pitch at a time” mantras the UW softball team has stood by all year, perhaps it’s no surprise that sophomore pitcher Taran Alvelo looked almost nonchalant as she trotted off the field Friday night at Husky Softball Stadium after pitching the first no-hitter of her collegiate career.
Alvelo’s coach, however, gave credit where it was due.
“It’s her first career no-hitter, against a good, scrappy team,” UW coach Heather Tarr said. “Those are tough to do, especially on a big stage like tonight.”
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In UW’s first game of the NCAA Division I softball tournament Seattle Regional against Montana, Alvelo was the picture of composed, efficient calm as she struck out eight batters to lead the Huskies (44-11) to an 8-0 win that was over in five innings thanks to the NCAA run rule.
Alvelo never departed from her steely poker-faced composure. Not even to celebrate her no-hitter.
“We talk about it all the time, one pitch at a time, on to the next pitch,” said Alvelo, a sophomore from Carroll, Ohio. “At the end of the game, that last out, I was like, ‘OK, we can celebrate for a little bit, but let’s focus on what we have to focus on next.”
That would be a date against Michigan on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.). The Wolverines (42-11) beat Fresno State 3-1 in the first game of the Seattle Regional Friday evening, and UW’s victory over Montana sets up an intriguing matchup that will pit the 6th seeded Huskies against a Wolverines squad that finished the season ranked 18th nationally.
Making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, the upstart Grizzlies (35-23) held UW scoreless through two innings, but they were no match for Alvelo, the Huskies’ stellar defense, and their seemingly limitless arsenal of weapons on offense.
“I’m proud of Taran and the defense for having a solid outing. They had a pretty decent day today,” Tarr said. “It was a little bit of a close game there for a while. Their pitcher was holding it down for them and Taran was holding it down for us. I thought it was a matter of time before we broke things open.”
Montana couldn’t touch Alvelo all night, and the Grizzlies ultimately unraveled in a nightmarish third inning that saw UW go through 12 at-bats to take a commanding 8-0 lead.
All-American shortstop Ali Aguilar got things started for the Huskies at the plate in the bottom of the third with a booming line drive down the left field line. Three Husky batters and a single from Casey Stangel later, Aguilar scored on an RBI double by catcher Morganne Flores, who sent the ball soaring into deep left field.
The sudden show of life from the UW offense seemed to unnerve Grizzlies starting pitcher Michaela Hood, and UW’s Taylor Van Zee took full advantage of the situation, smashing a two-RBI double into a glaring hole in left-centerfield that allowed Stangel and Flores to score.
With UW up 3-0, the Grizzlies pulled Hood, their freshman pitcher, and brought in sophomore Colleen Driscoll. That didn’t work either. Driscoll gave up five hits and four runs and UW held a daunting 8-0 lead before Maddy Stensby finally retired the Huskies’ side.
“I didn’t expect us to score eight runs in one inning, but if any team is capable of that, this team is,” Tarr said.
Van Zee, Sis Bates and Kelly Burdick finished as UW’s leading hitters, with two RBIs apiece, and Van Zee had the only triple of the game.
“This team has a lot of energy. It was just a matter of time, making adjustments, giving each other encouragement and information about our last at-bats,” Van Zee said. “We’re pretty resilient. So just taking it pitch by pitch allowed us to finally break it open tonight. It was good.”