By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The defending champion University of Washington softball team will enter the 2010 NCAA tournament as a bit of an underdog — again — only this time the Huskies will get to start their fight for respect at home.
The Huskies (45-6) earned a No. 3 overall seed despite being ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the season. But UW will get to host a regional this weekend, thanks in large part to the lights that were installed at the team’s softball complex last year.
The Seattle Regional begins Friday at UW, with the Huskies playing North Dakota State (33-23). The other two teams playing here will be Nebraska (29-27) and North Carolina (40-18). The Huskies are scheduled to host NDSU at 5 p.m. That game will take place after a 2:30 p.m. contest between Nebraska and North Carolina. The regional will continue Saturday and Sunday.
Alabama (48-9) is the nation’s top overall seed. Michigan (46-6) is No. 2.
The Huskies were nearly unbeatable when Danielle Lawrie (33-2) was on the mound this season. Freshman Baily Harris wasn’t nearly as successful, and it’s likely that Lawrie, the MVP of last year’s tournament, will start every postseason game UW plays. Lawrie has better numbers this season than she did during her player-of-the-year season in 2009. She pitched her 20th shutout of the season in Sunday’s season-ending win over Arizona State.
Last season, the Huskies had to play all their regional games on the road because the UW softball complex did not have lights and was limited in its ability to host tournament games. UW overcame the jet lag and made its first run to an NCAA title.