UW Huskies advances to the WCWS championship series
OKLAHOMA CITY — Taran Alvelo shut out the two-time defending national champions and Washington eliminated Oklahoma from the Women’s College World Series with a 3-0 victory.
Oklahoma entered the World Series as the nation’s highest-scoring team, but Washington shut out the Sooners twice in a four-day span. Oklahoma (57-5) was trying to join UCLA as the only programs to win three straight titles.
“I think Washington is an outstanding team, and they beat us twice, flat-out beat us,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “They earned everything that they got. No doubt, no doubt.”
Julia DePonte had three hits and two RBIs. The Huskies (52-8) will try to win their second national title starting Monday, when they play UCLA or Florida State in the best-of-three championship series. Washington won the title in 2009.
Washington’s pitching is set up for the championship series. Its ace, freshman Gabby Plain, hasn’t pitched since Friday and is well rested.
Alvelo was Washington's ace until she suffered a stress fracture in her ribs earlier this season. Tarr didn't hesitate to start Alvelo against the Sooners, despite Plain starting Washington's first two World Series wins.
"We need her," Tarr said of Alvelo. "We are not where we are today without her. Gabbie Plain has had a phenomenal season, and she's amazing, too. We're not Washington without Taran Alvelo. She has performed how she's needed to perform every time we've given her the ball. She absolutely deserved to start this game today, no matter what was going to happen."
Oklahoma started No. 2 pitcher Paige Lowary on Sunday, but ace Paige Parker replaced her early and gave up one run in four innings in her final college game. She threw two shutouts Saturday and finished her career with 10 World Series victories.
"When people recognize pitchers in this game, they recognize the strikeouts and they don't recognize so much the craftiness and the will and the guts," Gasso said. "And what Paige Parker did yesterday was something I don't know that you'll see again."
Gasso said Parker has surpassed national team member Keilani Ricketts as the best pitcher in school history.
"She's one of the best this sport has ever seen, and people should understand that," Gasso said. "I do."
Washington got it going early in the semifinal. DePonte singled to score Sis Bates and put Washington up 1-0 in the first. Noelle Hee's single scored DePonte to make it 2-0 in the third.
With two on and two outs in the fifth, Oklahoma's Shay Knighten lined a pitch to right field, but Trysten Melhart dived and caught it to end the threat.
"Your instincts just kick in in that moment and you just go for it," Melhart said. "Luckily I caught the ball. I knew, if I didn't, that my centerfielder, Kelly (Burdick), would be behind me to back me up."
DePonte hit a solo homer off Parker in the fifth to make it 3-0. Even then, the Sooners felt there was some magic left.
"They had their minds set that they were going to play on Monday, and I appreciate that," Gasso said. "That's why I love this team. That's why it hurts, because two years straight we have not had to feel this."