The Huskies could have an arms advantage with two capable pitchers, but Missouri's ace is imposing.
Missouri has the home field. Washington has the momentum. So who’s got the advantage in their NCAA softball Super Regional set to start Thursday at 6 p.m.?
Maybe Missouri. The sixth-seeded Tigers (38-12), one of six SEC teams among the 16 tournament teams still playing, feature an elite pitcher in senior Chelsea Thomas.
Named the Big 12 pitcher of the year as a sophomore and junior, Thomas (24-4) won the same honor this season in Missouri’s first year in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference. Her earned-run average (1.14) ranks fourth nationally.
Or, maybe Washington. The 11th-seeded Huskies (41-15) are riding the tide generated by two junior pitchers, resurgent Bryana Walker (25 strikeouts in two regional wins last weekend, one of them a five-inning no-hitter) and reliable Kaitlin Inglesby (a two-hit shutout with a season-high nine strikeouts Saturday).
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Inglesby also swung UW’s most imposing bat during its 3-0 regional sweep last weekend, doubling home both runs in a tight 2-1 win over Portland State, then smacking a two-run homer to ignite the offense in an 8-0 win over Hawaii Sunday.
Walker (17-7, 2.93 ERA), on the rebound after a so-so Pac-12 campaign (3-4), started quickly in her first postseason game, striking out the first four Portland State batters en route to a career-high 13 strikeouts. Against Hawaii Sunday, she fanned eight of the first 10 batters.
“Bry knows we have the utmost confidence in her,” said Inglesby (23-7, 1.92), who never let a Hawaii runner advance past first on Saturday. “She’s realizing that again, and she’s running with it.”
• As a freshman, Inglesby faced Thomas in a 2011 Super Regional at Missouri and lost both games, 4-0 and 6-3. “We’re a new team, they’re a new team. It’s going to be great,” Inglesby said.
• UW’s best hitters are stacked at the top of the order: Victoria Hayward (.371), Hooch Fagaly (.353), Inglesby (.370) and Kylee Lahners (.320). But UW coach Heather Tarr has been getting production from the bottom of the order, too. No. 7 hitter Whitney Jones was 3 for 3 with a three-run homer against Hawaii on Sunday. No. 8 Jennie McNeill, a freshman shortstop, was 5 for 6 with two RBI in two games vs. Hawaii. No. 9, Kelli Suguro, a junior Kentridge grad, was 5 for 9 in UW’s final regular-season series vs. Cal.
|UW softball at NCAA Super Regionals under coach Heather Tarr:|
|2013 11||at No. 6 Missouri||-|
|2012 16||at No. 1 California||L, 0-2|
|2011 12||at No. 5 Missouri||L, 0-2|
|2010 3||vs. No. 14 Oklahoma||W, 2-1|
|2009* 3||at No. 14 Georgia Tech||W, 2-0|
|2007 6||vs. No. 11 Alabama||W, 2-0|
|2006 14||at No. 3 Texas||L, 0-2|
|2005 16||at No. 1 Michigan||L, 1-2|
|* Won Women’s College World Series.|