The Washington Huskies softball team plays for the University of Washington. The Huskies play in the NCAA Division I of the college softball competition. The Washington Huskies are a part of the Pac-12 Conference and play all of their home games at the Husky Softball Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The stadium is within the University of Washington campus. The Washington Huskies softball team is one of the better performing teams in the Pac-12. As of 2017, they had made 12 Women's College World Series appearances. The Washington Huskies Softball team also won the National Championship in 2009. Let's find out more about them.
The Washington Huskies Softball program started in 1993. The program was headed by Teresa Wilson and she built the team into a national powerhouse. The Washington Huskies Softball team qualified for the NCAA tournament in their second season. Wilson led the team to the Women's College World Series six times. The Washington Softball Huskies also made it to the title games in 1996 and 1999. Between 1996 and 2000, the Washington Huskies never finished lower than fifth in the country. Under Teresa Wilson, the Washington Huskies Softball team achieved a record of 532–198–1 (.728).
After the glorious 90s, Teresa Wilson fell from grace in the 2000s after the uncovering of the scandal which involved dispensing drugs among her players. Teresa Wilson's tenure was terminated in 2003. Co-incidentally, Wilson was the second Washington coach fired that year. Her dismissal followed the firing of Huskies football coach Rick Neuheisel in an NCAA wagering scandal.
After Wilson departed, Heather Tarr, who was the assistant coach for the University of Pacific as well as a former player who played under Wilson, took over coaching duties for the Washington Huskies Softball team. In Heather Tarr's fifth year as the coach of the Washington Huskies, the team entered the 2009 Women's College World Series as the third seed. However, they weren't able to hold any home games since their arena didn't have lights. Despite that, the Huskies waltzed into the National Title game. In the title bout, they swept the University of Florida Gators in two games. The team's star was Canada women's national softball team member and 2009 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie. She pitched both games, winning 8–0 and 3–2. This was the 22nd time in 28 seasons that a Pac-12 team had won the College World Series.
When the Washington Huskies Softball program was established in 1993, the team played its home games across Lake Washington in Bellevue, at Hidden Valley Park. The Husky Softball Stadium was opened in 1994, one year after the establishment of the program. The stadium cost $2.2 million to build and is adjacent to Husky Stadium. East of the football stadium's north grandstand. The gorgeous Mt. Rainier is also visible from there, along with the southeast. The main grandstand can seat a total of 1,000 people. The bleachers can hold an additional 500 people. During the 2010 season, standing-room-only tickets were sold before games, behind the main sections and along the walkways to the outfield general admission seating. Because the lack of lights resulted in the team not having any home games during their 2009 title run, the stadium added lights in 2010 to be eligible to host NCAA tournament games.
Washington Huskies Softball catcher Morganne Flores won the College Softball Johnny Bench Award in 2020. Flores is a senior catcher. She is also the first catcher in the school's history to win this award.
In a shortened 2020 season, Flores put together yet another machine-like campaign, hitting above .300 for the fourth time in four years. She also started all 25 games, reaching base safely in 21 of them with six doubles and 12 walks. This year also marked the second consecutive year Flores recorded a perfect fielding percentage.
The Johnny Bench Award, dedicated to the most prolific catcher in collegiate softball each year, adds another piece of hardware to Flores' crowded trophy shelf. An All-American in 2019, she's earned All-Region nods in all four years she's been active, including All-Freshman recognition in 2016.
Flores ranks fifth all-time in UW softball home runs with 48, and with 21 RBIs in 2020, she looked poised to move up from her ninth-place standing in the record books before the novel coronavirus pandemic slammed the door shut on the season.
Flores will be back for a sixth season in 2021, and it won't be the first time she returns from an extended hiatus. After missing all of 2018 with an injury, Flores had a scorching hot campaign in 2019, setting career-highs in home runs (23), slugging percentage (.781), and batting average (.348).
A phased return plan for the student athletes was announced by the University of Washington Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA). It will start with voluntary workouts in June. "We have been advised by some of the top medical experts in the country," athletic director Jen Cohen said in the press release. "And we will continue to evaluate our process as we work through this first phase. It's critical for us to be able to provide these resources on campus, as COVID-19 is one of many things that impact the health and well-being of our students. We are eager to take this step to begin to welcome our students back to Montlake."
The plan, which is in accordance with guidelines set up by the UW, King County, and the Pac-12, will see returning student-athletes from football, men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball, women's soccer, and men's soccer allowed back on campus starting June 15. Groups of five or less will be allowed to participate in voluntary outdoor workouts, with the Husky Stadium field, concourse, and East Practice Field being the only facilities open to start.
Weight lifting equipment will be moved onto the Husky Stadium concourse to provide open-air space for workouts.
Starting June 22, incoming freshman football players will arrive, along with returning student-athletes from women's tennis, men's tennis, women's rowing, and men's rowing. Baseball, softball, and other sports by request may bring back their returning student athletes on June 29.
"We recognize in the face of this global pandemic, we must proceed cautiously," UW head team physician John O'Kane said. "With this in mind, we have instituted a return to training plan including COVID education, testing, enhanced physical assessment, regular symptom inventory, and an emphasis on social distancing whenever possible."
The UW Athletic Department also held a virtual town hall with student-athletes and their families where the school's medical team gave a detailed presentation about the reopening plans.
"We will reintroduce our training in phases, systematically increasing the numbers of student-athletes training together while continuing to monitor their health, as we work toward return of competition," O'Kane said.
The schedule, which was devised with the help of the UW head coaches, will also allow student-athletes access to on-field facilities on an individual basis.
Incoming freshmen and any other returning student athletes for volleyball, men's basketball, women's soccer, and men's soccer will return to the UW July 6th, with women's basketball's newcomers arriving July 13th.
Women's cross country, men's cross country, and incoming freshman on both rowing teams will return July 27th. And beginning as early as July 6th, Alaska Airlines practice courts, the indoor weight rooms, batting cages for baseball and softball, outdoor tennis courts, Husky Track, and the Dempsey Indoor could open in that order.
The last sports to arrive will be returning or incoming athletes from gymnastics, men's golf, women's golf, men's tennis, women's tennis, baseball, softball, track and field, beach volleyball, or any other members of the rowing team who are on track to return at their normal time in September. Connibear Shellhouse and the Graves Annex are also allowed to reopen after August.
The reopening will be supervised by the UW ICA's COVID-19 Committee, which will report to Cohen weekly.
"While our current situation is certainly challenging, the goal of our medical staff is the same as always; to provide an opportunity for our student-athletes to get a great education, compete in the sports they love, and to be the best versions of themselves, in as safe an environment as possible," Cohen said about getting the Washington Huskies Softball team back to practising.