Gabbie Plain looked like she might be perfect Friday night, but the Huskies will no doubt settle for excellent.
Plain retired the first 14 hitters she faced, then got herself out of a tense fifth-inning jam, in fifth-ranked Washington’s surprisingly suspenseful 3-0 victory Friday night in a first-round NCAA regional game at Husky Softball Stadium.
Washington (42-11) will play Michigan (37-6) on Saturday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2), with the winner of that game advancing to the title game Sunday with two chances to win the double-elimination tournament.
Portland State (15-25) will play Seattle University (29-20) at 5:30 p.m Saturday in an elimination game. The winner of that game will play another elimination game at 8 p.m., against the loser of UW-Michigan.
“It was exciting and awesome to play in front of our home crowd that grew a little bit since the last time we got to play at home,” said UW coach Heather Tarr. “I thought we played great defense and we had timely hitting.”
Plain, a senior All-American and one of three finalists for national player of the year, was perfect until a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Olivia Dean followed with an infield single that traveled about 10 feet and Washington’s 1-0 lead suddenly was in jeopardy.
Not for long. Plain overwhelmed Ariana Abalos on four pitches, getting three swings-and-misses in an inning-ending strikeout.
“I was pretty confident,” Plain said of getting out of the jam. “I knew I just had to do my job and the team would do theirs.”
That seemed to spur the Washington offense, which scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Baylee Klinger singled in a run, and the Huskies scored another when Klingler went home from third on an errant throw by the Portland State catcher trying to throw out Megan Vandegrift attempting to steal second base.
Washington scored early when Sis Bates led off the bottom of the first inning with an infield single, stole second base, advanced to third on an infield out and scored on Morganne Flores’ double.
It seemed then that it might be a good night for the Huskies’ potent offense, but Portland State pitcher Olivia Grey quickly settled down, and the Husky bats were quiet until the fifth inning.
Washington played Portland State twice in its nonconference slate, winning 8-0 and 5-2. Plain did not pitch in either of those games. and it’s safe to say the Vikings haven’t faced a pitcher like her all season.
Plain, after getting out of the jam in the fifth inning, didn’t allow another base runner until an infield single with two outs in the seventh inning. She then finished off the two-hitter and her 12th shutout of the season.
“We are definitely very blessed at times to watch this gal pitch, and sometimes we just assume it’s going to happen, but we try not to take it for granted,” Tarr said of Plain’s success.
Michigan beats Seattle U 2-0 on no-hitter
Carley Nance came through again in a pressure situation for Seattle University.
The senior left-hander pitched a fine game for the Redhawks, just not quite as good as the gem hurled by Michigan lefty Meghan Beaubien on Friday evening at Husky Softball Stadium.
Beaubien threw her third no-hitter of the season, leading the Wolverines to 2-0 over Seattle U and into a winners’ bracket game Saturday at 3 p.m. against the winner of Friday night’s late game between Washington and Portland State.
Beaubien allowed three base runners — a walk, hit batter and an error — and struck out 12.
Seattle University (29-20) played a tough nonconference schedule that included nine Pac-12 opponents and it was clear from the start it was not intimidated against the Big Ten champion Wolverines (37-6).
“We ran into a buzz saw,” Seattle U coach Geoff Hirai said of Beaubien before praising his pitcher. “We were in it the whole game.”
Nance allowed six hits in a complete-game performance and was helped by several good plays in the field.