The Huskies lead the best-of-three series 1-0 and can claim their 11th berth in the Women's College World Series with a win Friday.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Washington junior outfielder Victoria Hayward slammed a run-scoring double in the eighth inning to propel the Huskies to a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind win over Missouri on Thursday in the opening game of the Super Regional at University Field.
The 11th-seeded Huskies (42-15) lead the best-of-three series 1-0 and can claim their 11th overall berth in the Women’s College World Series with a win Friday.
Game 2 is set for 3 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will start at 6 p.m.
The Huskies pushed across single runs in the seventh and eighth innings against Missouri senior flamethrower Chelsea Thomas, one of the top pitchers in the country.
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“We took patient at-bats, and we were smart in our approach to the plate,” Washington coach Heather Tarr said. “It came down to clutch hitting, and we had one more than they did.”
Senior catcher Shawna Wright tied the game with a one-out single in the seventh.
Washington junior right-handers Kaitlin Inglesby and Bryana Walker matched Thomas pitch-for-pitch in a classic duel that was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. Inglesby allowed one run on four hits over six innings. Walker (18-7) retired all six batters and had two strikeouts.
But it was the clutch hitting of Hayward and Wright that spelled the difference.
“Against a good pitcher like that you just have to take it one pitch at a time,” Wright said. “Look for a pitch you can hit and take advantage of it.”
Hayward’s blow was the biggest of the postseason to date.
“I knew she’d come through,” Wright said. “We have a lot of confidence in her.”
Kelli Suguro started the winning rally with an infield single. She beat a throw from second baseman Emily Crane and then scooted to second when first baseman Kelsea Roth was unable to handle the toss.
Hayward, who had two of the Huskies’ five hits, then ripped a drive into the gap in right center to bring in Suguro.
Inglesby started the seventh-inning rally by coaxing a 3-2 walk from Thomas. She moved to second on a wild pitch and was replaced by pinch-runner Dani Braun. Kimberlee Souza then reached safely on an error by third baseman Princess Krebs, who booted a routine grounder. Wright followed with a line drive off the glove of shortstop Corrin Genovese that brought in Braun.
Sixth-seeded Missouri (38-13) parlayed a walk and two infield hits into its lone run in the sixth inning.
The Huskies, who won the national title in 2010, wasted a golden opportunity in the first inning. Hayward and Hooch Fagaly both ripped two-strike singles to lead off the frame. They moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Inglesby then drilled a hot shot that Genovese scooped up. She gunned down Inglesby by a step as the runners held. Kylee Lahners and Souza, the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters in the order, struck out.
Inglesby set down 10 hitters in a row between the third and sixth innings.
The win puts the Huskies in the driver’s seat. But Inglesby warned that her club must remain focused.
“It’s a race to two (wins), not just one,” she said.