This week’s reader poll comes a day late because of Memorial Day, but this time it involves a team playing for a national championship.
The University of Washington softball team is one of the best programs in the country, and this week the Huskies begin play at the Women’s College World Series as one of eight teams to qualify for the event, which begins Thursday in Oklahoma City.
This is Washington’s first trip to the Women’s College World Series since 2013, when the Huskies tied for third, and of course Washington claimed the national title in 2009. This year’s team is hoping to repeat the 2009 team’s feat.
The Huskies (48-12) are ranked No. 6 in the nation. Washington is in a bracket with No. 3 Oregon (52-6), No. 10 Oklahoma (56-9) and No. 15 Baylor (48-13), which will play a double-elimination. The team that emerges will face the winner of the other bracket that consists of No. 1 Florida (55-8), No. 5 UCLA (47-13), No. 9 Texas A&M (47-11) and No. 13 LSU (47-20) in a best-of-three series for the championship.
The Huskies have a difficult bracket, considering Oklahoma is the defending national champion and Oregon finished ahead of Washington in the Pac-12. However, the Huskies beat Oklahoma 1-0 on Feb. 11 and won two out of three in their series against Oregon on April 13-15, so Washington has as good a chance of emerging from the bracket as anyone.
Washington’s strength this season has been its offense, as the top five batters in the Huskies’ lineup — senior shortstop Ali Aguilar, freshman second baseman Sisi Bates, senior left fielder Casey Stangel, sophomore catcher Morganne Flores and junior third baseman Taylor Van Zee — have put up impressive numbers this season as Washington sits 12th in the nation with a .324 team batting average.
The Huskies also feature a local, as Snohomish high school product Trysten Melhart plays right field for Washington. The junior is batting .270 and leads the team with 19 stolen bases.
Sophomore Taran Alvaro is the team’s primary pitcher, going 33-7 with a 2.05 ERA.
So how do you think the Huskies will do at the Women’s College World Series?
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) May 30, 2017