UW athletics has canceled its game against Team USA, which was to be played on Thursday afternoon in Seattle. The school put out the following statement:
“USA Softball has made the decision to postpone the Seattle, Hillsboro, and Eugene “Stand By Her” tour stops. This decision was made with the best interest of the health and safety of all players, staff, and fans within the softball community. More information on the possibility of rescheduling will be provided if and when it is available.
Washington is still scheduled to play Utah this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with those games closed to the public. Any updates or changes to that schedule will be made public as soon as possible.”
After 25 games on the road in a one-month span, the No. 2 Washington Husky softball team plays at home for the first time this season, but fans won’t be there to greet the Huskies.
The Huskies (23-2) host the U.S. national team at 6 p.m. Thursday, then host Utah for a three-game weekend series beginning Friday. The games will go on even though there will no fans, a result of a state prohibition of gatherings of more than 25o people. The order was announced Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has now been declared a global pandemic.
“It’s definitely crazy times, and most of us haven’t seen anything like this,” said UW junior pitcher Gabbie Plain about the games without fans. “But in the long run, I think it’s probably a good thing, for our families and all the people who come to see us.”
Said UW senior shortstop Sis Bates: “We’ve never played not in front of fans, but I don’t think it’s going to impact us too much. We’re still playing the same game we’ve played for 15 or 16 years.”
Bates, a two-time All-American, missed 10 games with a concussion after playing in all 187 games the past three years.
Washington coach Heather Tarr was impressed with what her team accomplished when Bates was out, going 9-1.
“The neatest thing you can look back at, and this is far from finished, is what we were able to do as a team without one of our best players for two weeks,” Tarr said. “It was hard personally for Sis being out two weeks, the first time she had been out ever in her career. … The fact that our team was able to become even more of a team throughout that experience, coming from behind in certain situations, and knowing we were in every single game no matter which players were playing, that is what we learned.”
The Huskies face a tall task Thursday against the national team, loaded with the country’s best players, including former Husky Ali Aguilar.
“Just the opportunity to have these women in our environment, having Ali Aguilar back, and having coach (Ken) Eriksen with his group helping us get better, and us helping them get better, is really what we are focused on,” Tarr said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us, and I am sad our fans can’t witness it because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Tarr will be an assistant for the U.S. at the Olympics this summer.
“It’s unfortunate I am not able to be in both places at once because I honestly want to help both teams, but right now my focus is on these gals (at UW),” Tarr said.
Tarr said her team won’t be intimidated.
“You can look at it as, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have to hit off (U.S. star) Monica Abbott,’ or like, ‘I have an opportunity to get better every single pitch,’ ” Bates said. “They are incredible, and the fact that we get to play against them and work together as a team, and going through that adversity will be really big for us.”