Washington’s bats couldn’t find traction Friday and the Huskies lost 3-1 to Oklahoma at the Women’s College World Series in a matchup of softball teams that won their opening games. UW plays at 4 p.m. PDT Saturday against either Texas A&M or UCLA.
OKLAHOMA CITY – If a few plays had gone differently and a few breaks had gone the other way, the Washington softball team might have knocked off the defending national-champion Oklahoma Sooners on Friday night.
Instead, the Huskies were left thinking “what if?” after a 3-1 loss in a matchup of teams that won their opening games at the Women’s College World Series.
The Huskies (49-13) head to the other side of the bracket, where they will play Saturday at 4 p.m. PDT against the winner of a Texas A&M-UCLA elimination game earlier in the day. If Washington wins, it would play Sunday against a top-seeded Florida team that has posted back-to-back shutouts here.
UW vs. Texas A&M or UCLA, 4 p.m., ESPN
Washington had its chances against the Sooners (58-9). Senior Ali Aguilar homered in the sixth inning to cut Oklahoma’s lead to two. A leadoff single from sophomore Morganne Flores opened UW’s seventh and final inning and brought the tying run to the plate with all three outs to work with.
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But Oklahoma’s pitching – the twin towers formed by the duo of Paige Parker and Paige Lowary – proved too much. The Huskies’ offense was stifled on the evening (seven strikeouts as opposed to three hits) but they still had a chance. Even though Washington wasn’t scoring, Oklahoma felt pressure to keep grinding and add to its lead.
“You hold your breath against those guys,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said of the Huskies. “You watch them on video and they’re just so dynamic. I don’t think any of us exhaled or felt comfortable at all, not until the game was over.
“We knew that they’re capable of coming back in one swing.”
That swing never came. Instead, the Huskies walked into the postgame news conference looking dejected. What if?
“Tough ballgame for us,” Washington coach Heather Tarr said. “Wasn’t our best defensive outing.”
In the second inning, sophomore Taran Alvelo hit Oklahoma leadoff hitter Fale Aviu with a pitch. Later, the Huskies failed to convert a double-play chance that would have stunted the Sooners and put two outs on the board.
With Aviu on third base, Oklahoma laid a bunt down at catcher Flores’ feet, but a juke from Aviu beat the tag for a 1-0 lead.
Aviu said it’s a move she practices — to the frustration of teammates — every day. Flores said she acted on instinct and just missed.
“I just picked up the bunt and saw her coming at me. My instincts, I wanted to tag her,” Flores said. “She just fooled me, got around me.”
Tarr said, “I’ll have to look back at the film, I don’t know if it was even fair or foul, but I thought it was a good instinct given the case. She felt the runner coming right at her, to try to pick it up and just take an easy out there. But the runner found a way to avoid the tag.”
Tarr insisted that play wasn’t the deciding factor. She noted Alvelo, who went six innings and allowed two earned runs, pitched “well enough to win.”
Rather, defensive mistakes doomed the Huskies.
“We can be better, we can be tougher,” Tarr said. “We’ll be tougher.”