Morganne Flores missed the Huskies’ run to the College Softball World Series championship round last season, having suffered a torn ACL that forced her to miss the entire season.
Healthy again, the junior catcher is willing to do whatever she can to give her team another shot at winning a title.
On Saturday afternoon, that meant hitting two-run homers in her first two at-bats, leading the Huskies to a 6-1 victory over Mississippi State at Husky Softball Stadium and into the championship of the NCAA regional.
“It was a good game, and we played the game right,” UW coach Heather Tarr said. “We scored first, and we had some good shutdown defense. Our team had a presence about them.”
The Huskies (47-7) can advance to a super regional by winning Sunday’s 6 p.m. matchup against Mississippi State, which beat Seattle U 7-3 in an elimination game late Saturday to earn a rematch with the Huskies. If UW loses the 6 p.m. game, it would get another chance at 8:30 p.m.
It didn’t take long for Flores, who drove in both UW runs in Friday’s 2-0 regional-opening win over Fordham, to make a statement Saturday. Sis Bates led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single and Flores followed with a long homer to left field on a pitch above the strike zone to give UW a 2-0 lead.
“I was just trying to see a pitch that I could handle,” said Flores, who has 20 homers, 15 more than Madison Huskey, who is second on the team.
In the third inning, Bates led off with a single, and Flores followed with a homer to center to give UW a 5-1 lead.
That was more than enough cushion for UW pitcher Taran Alvelo, who allowed one run on six hits and no walks. She struck out eight. The only run she allowed was a solo homer to Kat Moore in the second inning to cut UW’s lead to 2-1.
“They answered right after we scored and that was a scary moment, knowing what that team’s offense is capable of doing,” Tarr said. “We stayed tough when we needed to stay tough.”
The Bulldogs started the seventh with back-to-back singles, but Alvelo got a pop-up and a double play ended the game.
Alvelo won the matchup against Mississippi State slugger Mia Davidson, who was 0 for 3. Davidson hit three of her team-high 25 homers off UW pitcher Gabbie Plain in February in a 7-5 UW win.
But Tarr said that did not influence starting Alvelo over Plain, who threw a shutout Friday over Fordham.
“Not really; we have two good arms,” Tarr said.
The Redhawks (40-17), making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament, needed an extra inning in a thrilling 1-0 win over Fordham (29-6) before losing to Mississippi State (35-22).
Seattle U won it in the bottom of the eighth as Madison Cathcart’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Alyson Mariotti.
Andie Larkins threw the shutout for Seattle U, allowing five hits and two walks, and striking out four.
Madison Cathcart, Bailey Thompson and Kaylee Ree homered for Seattle U against Mississippi State, but it wasn’t enough.