OKLAHOMA CITY – On back-to-back days, Washington freshman Gabbie Plain stared down the toughest of challenges with seemingly no fear.
The Australian gave up four hits and no earned runs in six innings as Washington defeated top-seeded Oregon 6-2 on Friday in the Women’s College World Series.
A day earlier, she gave up just four hits in 5 2/3 shutout innings against two-time defending champion Oklahoma. She was the winning pitcher against the Sooners’ Paige Parker and Oregon’s Megan Kleist, both first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Americans.
Plain said she’s keeping it simple and trusting her defense.
“Good pitches, good locations, making them swing at stuff that they didn’t necessarily want to swing at,” she said. “Yeah, just keeping on top of it.”
Now, fifth-seeded Washington (51-8) needs one win Sunday to advance to the championship series.
Washington junior Taran Alvelo was solid in relief both games. Washington coach Heather Tarr said the Huskies know to play behind the different personalities.
“Gabbie has that kind of chill, no worries personality,” Tarr said. “Then you’ve got Taran that is a pump-you-up, fire-you-up kind of person. So you have to learn to play behind both personnel, and they have to learn to continue to regulate their hearts and be where they need to be when they need to be there.”
Oregon (53-9) won all three meetings against its Pac-12 rival during the regular season. The Ducks said things were different Friday because they didn’t play their best.
“I think they played exactly the same way,” Oregon third baseman Jenna Lilley said. “That’s what made them good, except when we played them (in Seattle), we made the defensive plays or we stopped the bleeding and we hit their pitchers around, and today, we didn’t.”
The game was scoreless before Washington loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Kelly Burdick put the ball in play and forced a throw home. Washington’s Kaija Gibson scored, despite taking a glove to the face on the tag attempt.
Taylor Van Zee then singled and knocked in two runs to chase starter Kleist. Washington scored four runs in the inning to take control for good.
“Just make adjustments,” Van Zee said. “Obviously, it was our fourth game against them this year. So staying within ourselves, getting together, getting a pitch we could handle, just adjustments in the box and talking, communication amongst hitters. So it worked out for us.”
Oregon will play an elimination game Saturday against the winner of the Georgia-Florida State game.
“We’ll bounce back,” Oregon coach Mike White said. “We know what we have to do. We just didn’t execute. We didn’t do what we needed to do to beat them today. They’re a tough team. They were ranked No. 1 in the country for a long time for a reason. They have a good pitching staff, superb defense, and a good mix of power and speed, and they put the pressure on you. But unfortunately we weren’t able to make the big play.”
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