The offense has been putting up staggering numbers, and All-American pitcher Gabbie Plain has dominated.
That summarizes the highlights of the first 10 games for the No. 5 Washington softball team, which enters a three-game series at San Diego State, starting Friday, with a 9-1 record.
“It for sure feels good to be back on the field with this group and it definitely felt like a long time had spanned from our last game in 2020 (on March 8) and our first game in 2021 (Feb. 12),” UW softball coach Heather Tarr said.
The Huskies are averaging 9.3 runs a game, have a .381 batting average and 24 home runs, just five fewer than they had in 29 games last season.
Plain has been dominant in her first eight games, going 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 33 innings, with 59 strikeouts and five walks. She was named Pac-12 pitcher of the week for the second consecutive week on Tuesday.
The job now is to develop the rest of the staff.
“We have five pitchers we’re going to figure out how to develop,” Tarr said. “We’re not going to do it with just one pitcher.”
Sophomore Kelley Lynch is 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA over 19 innings. It has been a rougher start for sophomore Brooke Nelson (11.31 ERA in 4 1/3 innings), senior Pat Moore (14.00 ERA in three innings) and freshman Sarah Willis (15.75 ERA in 2 2/3 innings), who all struggled in a 19-13 win over Southern Utah.
“It’s a challenge,” Tarr said. “We’ve got to win these games and we’ve got to do our best, but we also have to develop our pitching staff. In the next couple of weeks, that is going to be a mission of ours.
“We know what Gabbie is, we know a little more after these first two weekends what Kelley Lynch is going to provide for our program, but we also have three other arms we want to continue to grow and develop. … In combination, the five are going to help us win.”
The offense can take some of the pressure off the staff by continuing to score runs. There are six Huskies (with more than 10 at-bats) hitting at least .400.
Ten players have hit at least one homer, led by six from junior Baylee Klingler and four each from junior Sami Reynolds and sophomore Jadelyn Allchin.
“The power is a byproduct of getting good pitches to hit and being able to make good on the specific counts (in the hitters’ favor),” Tarr said.
The coach said the team doesn’t “necessarily go for the long ball” and said playing in higher elevations in the first two weeks in Las Vegas and St. George, Utah, made the ball carry farther.
“Sometimes, the environment helps you out a little bit, but we’ve got an entire lineup, plus some on the bench, who can leave the ballpark with any pitch,” Tarr said. “Together that’s what makes this group really strong and dangerous offensively.”
Allchin has hit her four homers in just 22 at-bats after having two homers in 68 at-bats last season.
“My goal this year was to work the count and get a good pitch I can hit and really focus on,” Allchin said. “I’ve been working with my mental game and being grateful for where I am. Going over what happened last year — we had it taken away — what’s there to stress out about.”
After the three games at San Diego State, the Huskies play two games at San Diego on Sunday.
The Huskies’ first home game is March 12 against Seattle U in the Husky Classic.