OKLAHOMA CITY – The Washington Huskies fought for a 3-2 victory over top-ranked and top-seeded Florida on Tuesday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, capturing the program’s first NCAA softball championship. The third-seeded Huskies finish with a 51-12 record while Florida ends its season with a 63-5 record.
The Gators wasted no time getting on the board, plating a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Aja Paculba led off the game with a triple and came home on passed ball before Kristina Hilberth reached on a fielding error, went to second on a Francesca Enea single, stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly from Megan Bush to make the score 2-0.
Washington answered in the bottom half of the inning. Ashley Charters and Kimi Pohlman led off with consecutive singles before a one-out single from Danielle Lawrie scored Charters from second and advanced Pohlman to third base. A wild pitch from Florida starter Stacey Nelson plated Pohlman to tie the game at 2-2.
Florida threatened in the top of the second inning as Kim Waleszonia reached on a two-base error and was wild pitched to third base, but did not advance any farther.
The Huskies loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning on a fielding error off the bat of Pohlman, followed by singles from Jennifer Salling and Lawrie. Morgan Stuart then slapped a ball into the Gator infield where it was not fielded cleanly, scoring a run on the bases-loaded error to make the score 3-2 in Washington’s favor.
Florida left a pair of runners in scoring position in the fourth inning. Ali Gardiner led off with a single and pinch runner Danyell Hines was sacrificed to second by Corrie Brooks. A Michelle Moultrie single gave the Gators runners at the corners, and a stolen base from Moultrie put both runners in scoring position, but they could not advance.
In the top of the fifth, the Gators threatened again. Hilberth led off with a single and pinch runner Lauren Heil was sacrificed to second by Enea. An infield error allowed Kelsey Bruder to reach and a two-out walk to Gardiner loaded the bases for Brooks, who was unable to connect, leaving Washington’s 3-2 lead intact.
After going down in order in the top of the sixth, Florida’s Francesca Enea ripped a double down the left field line with one out in the seventh, but the runner did not advance any farther as Lawrie recorded her seventh and eighth K’s of the game to shut the door on Florida and close out Washington’s first NCAA softball championship.
Washington’s Danielle Lawrie became the first recipient of the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award to win that year’s NCAA Championship.
Lawrie struck out eight, allowing two runs on seven hits while walking three to finish the season at 42-8. Florida ace Stacey Nelson pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking one with five strikeouts. Her final season record is 41-5.
Five Huskies earned All-Tournament honors, led by Most Outstanding Player Danielle Lawrie. Ashley Charters, Kimi Pohlman, Morgan Stewart and Niki Williams rounded out the list of UW players on the All-Tournament Team. They were joined by Alabama’s Kelley Montalvo, Charlotte Morgan and Brittany Rogers; Georgia’s Alisa Goler and Taylor Schlopy; and Florida’s Megan Bush and Stacey Nelson.