Looking to inch closer to the elusive Women’s College World Series, the No. 14 seeded UK softball team (36-23) fell to the No. 3 seeded Washington Huskies (49-7) on Friday night 3-0 in the NCAA Seattle Super Regional opener at the Husky Softball Stadium.
The pitching tandem of Taran Alvelo (25-4) and Gabbie Plain (22-2) kept the Cats in check. Alvelo started and pitched 3 2/3 innings, gathering three strikeouts and allowing just a hit and walk. Plain relieved Alvelo, replicating her stat line as she received the victory.
Grace Baalman (10-10) received the loss after allowing five hits and earning three runs in five innings pitched. Friday night’s shutout marks the Cats’ sixth shutout on the season. Failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities was a theme for the Cats as they left nine runners on base.
The Huskies got on the board early in the first. Sami Reynolds flied out to left center for a sacrifice fly that put the Huskies up 1-0. The Cats escaped trouble that same inning though. Washington’s Morganne Flores was thrown out trying to steal home. Katie Reed got a ball beyond the second base bag and threw the ball to Jenny Schaper who quickly tagged Flores to end the bottom of the first.
Neither team did anything the following inning. But the Huskies would soon be back in business in the third. Sis Bates hit an RBI single in the third inning to increase the Huskies’ lead 2-0. While the Huskies were getting ahead, the Cats were getting scoring opportunities taken away.
With two outs and runners on first and third in the fourth inning, Mallory Peyton stepped up to the plate to face Plain, who had just entered the game. On a 1-2 count, she struck out swinging to end the inning. Another woe for the Cats came the following inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, SEC Player of the Year Abbey Cheek grounded out to end the inning.
Washington tried putting on the final decorations in the fifth. Looking to redeem herself after her previous tag out at the plate, Flores hit a home run to deep left field, her 22nd on the year, to keep the Huskies on top 3-0. Hoping to come back, the Cats were hit with another setback in the sixth.
Kelsee Henson stepped up to the plate as the tying run with runners on second and third with two outs. However, Henson hit into a groundout to end the inning once more. They got one more chance after Katie Reed reached base after being hit by a pitch in the seventh, but Cheek grounded out once more to end the game.
This loss marks the Cats’ second loss to the Huskies this season. The Huskies defeated them 4-2 in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic back on February 22nd. Both teams will square off Saturday night at 10 p.m Eastern as the Huskies will look to advance in the best-of-three series.