Fast starts, big hits, tough pitching — everything, it seems, is going right for the Washington softball team this week.
The Huskies, seeded 12th nationally, scored four runs in the first inning, got two home runs by senior left fielder Whitney Jones and a two-hitter from Bryana Walker at Husky Softball Stadium to cruise past BYU 9-0 in five innings Friday.
Washington (35-13) plays Northwestern (34-17) in the championship round Saturday at noon. If necessary, a final game would be played at 2:30 p.m. Northwestern defeated BYU 8-3 in Friday’s late elimination game after beating Iona 14-4 earlier.
For UW, which opened its Pac-12 schedule in late March with a 2-6 record, the world looks sunnier in May.
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“Every season’s a journey,” coach Heather Tarr said. “You never know when you’re going to hit your low. We hit lows. All great teams, all championship teams, do.”
As on Thursday, when they rolled to a 9-0 win over Iona, the Huskies swiftly ended any suspense about who owned this game.
Playing as the visitors, Washington scored a run in the first on an RBI single by Kylee Lahners and three on a mighty blow to right by Jones. The Huskies chased BYU starter Tori Almond eight hitters into the first inning.
Sophomore catcher Dani Braun gave the Huskies a 6-0 lead in the third inning with a two-run double to left-center. With two outs in the fourth, Ali Aguilar drove in Lahners with a double, and Jones followed with her second homer of the day, giving her five RBI.
Lahners, Braun and Jones each finished with two of UW’s nine hits. In her past 11 games, Jones is hitting .500 with 11 runs and 12 RBI.
“I’m just staying in the moment, looking for the right pitch to hit,” said Jones, who converted to hitting from the same side as she throws, as a lefty, after arriving at UW.
• Walker (19-8) struck out five and walked two. In seven career postseason starts, she is 6-1 with 49 strikeouts (against 15 walks) in 42 innings with a 1.00 ERA. She tossed a no-hitter against Hawaii in the 2013 regional title game. “It’s always awesome when you put a nine-spot up there on a team,” Walker said. “It makes it a lot easier to pitch, that’s for sure.”