An all-state infielder from Kentridge who had attracted recruiting interest from Louisville, Massachusetts and DePaul, Kelli Suguro instead elected to walk on at Washington. She has established herself as a strong second baseman and a reliable hitter for the Huskies.
Cut. It’s a tough word for any athlete to digest, and Kelli Suguro had to deal with it.
Though the all-state infielder from Kentridge had attracted recruiting interest from Louisville, Massachusetts and DePaul, she elected to attend Washington because it was close to home, it would grant her early admission to its business school and its softball team is an NCAA-tournament fixture.
On her first day of fall classes, she and two other players had a 45-minute tryout with UW coach Heather Tarr. That night, Tarr sent Suguro an email informing her that UW wouldn’t be adding any players for the spring season.
NCAA softball regional
At Tuscaloosa, Ala. Double elimination format. All times Pacific.
Friday: UW (40-15) vs. South Carolina Upstate (43-8), 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU)
Fairfield (Conn.) (25-22) vs. No. 6 Alabama (42-12), 1 p.m.
Saturday: UW-South Carolina Upstate winner vs. Fairfield-Alabama winner, 11 a.m.
UW-South Carolina Upstate loser vs. Fairfield-Alabama loser, 1:30 p.m.
Loser of Saturday’s first game vs. winner of Saturday’s second game, 4 p.m.
Sunday: Winner of Saturday’s first game vs. winner of Saturday’s third game, 10 a.m.
Second game, if necessary, 12:30 p.m.
“That,” Suguro said, “was the end of my softball career. It was like the biggest failure I’ve had in life.
Most Read Sports Stories
- What to watch for when Seahawks take on Steelers in preseason game
- Even jaded fans must admit the Mariners have a good chance to end their playoff drought
- Quarterback play a mixed bag as Seahawks lose to Steelers to open preseason play
- With lineup at full strength, Mariners cruise to a drama-free win vs. the Rangers
- Las Vegas police say Marshawn Lynch was asleep in car before arrest
“But it was kind of weird. I had a feeling that maybe it wasn’t over. I just didn’t know what else was to come.”
What came was a series of breaks that led to Suguro not only making the team, but becoming UW’s starting second baseman, earning a scholarship and twice receiving Pac-12 honorable mentions and on Thursday, being named All-Pacific Region second team.
In a hot-hitting lineup Suguro is UW’s fourth-best hitter (.370) and a senior leader on a team that opens postseason play Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Huskies (40-15) play South Carolina Upstate (43-8) in a regional opener at 10:30 a.m. PDT.
Suguro’s unexpected ascent began later in her freshman year when injuries thinned Tarr’s roster to the point she needed a practice player. It was a no-glory task that Suguro swiftly accepted. “Why wouldn’t I?” she said. “I love softball.”
A month later Suguro got elevated to the active roster. “Coach Tarr said, ‘Fair warning; your chances of playing are pretty slim,’ ” Suguro recalled. “She was making sure I knew what I was getting into.”
Suguro served mostly as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter in 32 games as a freshman. Then, as a sophomore, early roster injuries opened a spot for her at second base.
“I just kind of found my way into the lineup,” Suguro said. “An assistant coach told me, ‘You’re not going to get very many opportunities, but when you do you should make the most of them.’ ”
Suguro became a regular, hit .296 and earned her first Pac-12 honorable mention. Initially known more for her defense (a diving grab and throw of hers made a nightly “SportsCenter” Top 10 Plays in 2013), this year Suguro has posted five home runs and a 15-game hitting streak.
“Everybody tells me I hit one home run in the past two years and this year I’ve hit five,” she said. “I guess I’ve been saving them up for my senior year.”
• Led by first-team All-Region shortstop Ali Aguilar, Washington placed six Huskies on the All-Pacific Region team. Joining Aguilar on the teams are senior outfielder Kylee Lahners and Suguro on the second team with first baseman Courtney Gano, outfielder Taylor Van Zee and DP Casey Stangel on the third team.
• It is an odd season for the Huskies, who enter the tournament with a chance to eclipse the school record for batting average. UW is ranked 12th nationally in hitting at .348; the school mark is .343, set in 1996. Yet the pitching staff is a lock to post the worst earned-run average in the program’s 23-year history. UW pitchers have amassed a team ERA of 4.99. The record high is 2.58, set in 2012. Opponents are hitting .306 vs. UW. The previous high: .265 in 2011.
• The host school, sixth-seeded Alabama (42-12), is the favorite to advance from this regional to the round of 16 next week. The Crimson Tide lost to eventual SEC champion Auburn in a conference-tournament semifinal. Alabama, the 2012 national champions, lost to Florida in last year’s best-of-three championship final.