No. 13 Washington Uses Long Ball To Rally Past Lehigh in NCAA Regional Opener
vs Weber State
5/21/2022 | 7:30 PM (ET)
May 21 (Sat) / 7:30 PM (ET)
vs. Weber State
SEATTLE – The Lehigh softball team scored two runs in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead in its NCAA Regional opener at No. 13 Washington, but the Huskies responded with five runs in the fifth and added three runs in the sixth to defeat the Mountain Hawks 9-2 Friday at Husky Softball Stadium.
Junior Emily Cimino led the way for Lehigh, going 3-for-4 and scoring the go-ahead run in the fifth for the Mountain Hawks, who fell to 30-19-1. Lehigh will face Weber State in an elimination game Saturday at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT. Washington (36-15) moves on to face Texas in the winner’s bracket Saturday after hitting four home runs in Friday night’s game.
“We fought really hard,” Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan said. “We had a game plan coming in to be aggressive against their pitchers and we did well enough where they had to take out a couple of pitchers to bring in their ace. That was a little bit of a moral victory for us. We were up 2-1 in the fifth inning. We fought. We competed. We just left a couple balls over the plate and a team that hits a lot of home runs is going to take advantage. Those are the sorts of things you can’t do if you’re going to have a chance to win.”
Sophomore Katelyn Young started in the circle for Lehigh and was sharp early, setting the Huskies down in order on just seven pitches in the first inning and then throwing a scoreless second. Jenn Cummings put Washington ahead 1-0 with a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the third.
Senior Gabriella Nori came on in relief with two on and two out in the fourth to strike out Cummings and keep Lehigh behind by just one.
Lehigh rallied in the fifth when senior Carley Barjaktarovich reached on a throwing error by Cummings after striking out on a pitch in the dirt. Cimino followed with a single to left center and a throwing error put runners on second and third with one out. Washington ace Gabby Plain came on in relief and retired senior Jaelynn Chesson for the second out of the inning. Senior Addie Kittel then hit a chopper up the middle and the throw from second baseman Kinsey Fiedler pulled first baseman Brooke Nelson off the bag, allowing Barjaktarovich to score the tying run and Cimino raced around from second to slide in with the go-ahead run.
Washington answered immediately as Fiedler led off the home fifth with a game-tying home run to right. Later in the inning, Jadelyn Allchin hit a three-run home run to right to put the Huskies in front. An RBI single extended Washington’s lead to 6-2 after five innings.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Baylee Klingler hit a three-run home run in the sixth to account for the final margin.
Gallery: (5-20-2022) Softball vs. Washington, 5/20/22
Young finished with a line of four runs allowed on seven hits over five innings. She walked three and struck out four. Nori struck out two in an inning of work but took the loss, allowing five runs on four hits.
“Katelyn did a fantastic job,” Troyan said. “She left one changeup over the plate early for the first home run but she was doing really well. We felt like in order to win the game we were going to have to mix it up a little bit, so we brought Gabi in. We win together and we lose together. Gabi has done so many great things for us throughout her career, we felt like it was the right move to make. We feel like if she gets a chance tomorrow, she’ll do really well.”
Plain, the third of three Washington pitchers, earned the win with 2.2 innings of scoreless, two-hit relief. She struck out six. Washington pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts on the night.
Lehigh finished with five hits, with Barjaktarovich and Chesson each recording one to go along with Cimino’s three.
The Mountain Hawks and Weber State will play an elimination game at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT with the winner advancing to face the loser of Washington/Texas right afterwards. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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