Two big innings and a great pitching performance left the Washington softball team one Women’s College World Series victory away.
Washington scored five runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth, and rookie Ruby Meylan kicked a shutout as the Huskies beat Louisiana 8-0 in their first super regional game Friday night at Husky Softball Stadium, which contains some 2,200.
The game ended with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning because of the run rule.
Washington (42-13) takes a 1-0 lead in the best of three super regionals and can qualify for the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City with a victory Saturday against Louisiana (50-15). Game time is 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.
If the Huskies lose Game 2, a deciding Game 3 will be played Sunday at a time to be determined.
“It was really cool to be able to have another opportunity to play in front of our home crowd and let these guys keep trying to improve and get as good as they can be,” UW coach Heather Tarr said. .
Washington reached the super regionals when it scored seven runs in the seventh inning to defeat McNeese on Sunday in the regional final.
The offense didn’t do much in the first three innings Friday, and by then UW had scored just one of its previous 19 innings.
Then came an explosion. SilentRain Espinoza brought home the first inning of the game on a double from left field. Then came huge hits from players who had struck out in the second inning.
Rookie Sidney Stewart hit a big home run to left field — his second of the season — to give UW a 3-0 lead.
That was it for Landry. Enter Chloe Riassetto for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Alana Johnson greeted Riassetto with a sharp single and Rylee Holtorf followed with a homer to left center field — her fourth of the season to give UW a 5-0 lead.
“We could have easily given up on that last game with Riley and gone back to defense – because we like to play defense – but I think it was an important moment for someone like Riley to go through that,” Tarr said.
Holtorf, a second-year shortstop, credited Espinoza, a fifth-year senior third baseman, with starting the rally with the double.
“She’s been this rally starter for us all year,” Holftorf said of Espinoza. “I think she’s just old in her at bats and you can see how mature she is and the way she carries herself, her confidence. I told her last week that hitting behind her was so great because of the confidence she had at home plate. You can feel it behind her.
Espinoza paid tribute to Jadelyn Allchin, who led the bottom of fourth when getting hit with a pitch, and Kelley Lynch, who moved Allchin to second on a sacrificial bunt.
“They started it and I was just the one who was up at the time to do it,” Espinoza said.
Washington got a two-run single from Johnson in the fifth, and Holtorf’s single ended the game.
Meylan, who became the Huskies’ top pitcher this season, had a tough performance Sunday, when she allowed six earned runs in four innings.
She bounced back in some ways, getting herself out of trouble a few times, but the biggest breakout came in the fifth inning, just after UW scored five runs.
Meylan charged with two outs and had to face Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Karly Heath. Meylan retired Heath on a fly ball caught off the wall by left fielder Sami Reynolds.
“Especially after scoring there, we had to not let the other team score and I thought they did a really good job,” Tarr said of Meylan, who allowed two hits and four goals. on balls and hit two batters. “She struggled after a few tough moments but she’s growing and she’s learned and we’re really proud of her and proud of the defense that played behind her tonight.”
Meylan allowed his first hit of the game with two outs in the fourth inning, on a double by Jourdyn Campbell. Left fielder Sami Reynolds tried to dive down the practice line, but the ball went out of her mitt when she hit the ground.
After a walk, Meylan knocked out pinch hitter Laney Credeur for the final in the top of the fourth. Then came the first of two UW explosions.
“These guys are in school and they lifted the weights this morning and they deserve something good to eat,” Tarr et. “And prepare to be better tomorrow.”
THE SCORE OF THE BOX