Yesterday, Washington right-hander Gabbie Plain made two mistakes: back-to-back home runs hit by Wolverine senior infielders Lou Allan and Taylor Bump.
Those miscues ended up being the difference in the 2-1 Michigan victory.
Today, facing elimination, Plain was the difference.
The NCAA Player of the Year candidate hailing from Australia is the Husky’s bell cow, shouldering almost the entire load throughout the season from inside the circle. She’s tallied over 61% of Washington’s innings pitched after starting for 33 games and appearing in 40.
Plain stepped on the rubber, prepared to deliver exactly the way she always has in her four seasons as a Husky.
The first batter she faced, junior outfielder Lexie Blair, drove a hard-hit single to center field. Plain seemed unfazed. She stepped back into the circle and loaded for the next batter — batters two through four were retired one after another.
Through five innings, Plain had not allowed a run. Blair’s hit remained the only one as Plain firmly guarded Washington’s 2-0 lead.
In the sixth, she faced a challenge.
With one out, Blair reached base again on a single down the first base line. With freshman Keke Tholl pinch-hitting, Plain put herself in a tough position by loading the count and subsequently walking Tholl.
One poorly placed pitch to Allan or Bump — her banes from the night before — who have 11 and 12 home runs on the year, respectively, and the Huskies could be facing a deficit.
This time, though, she delivered.
Allan grounded out on a fielder’s choice that got Blair out on her way to third. Plain then got Bump to hit another one on the ground, fielded cleanly by Washington shortstop Sis Bates who delivered the throw to first.
After that, it was over. Plain had made it through the meat of the Wolverines’ lineup and she wasn’t going to give it up in the bottom of the seventh. A strikeout, popup, strikeout sealed the Huskies’ victory as Plain ran towards her dugout shouting and pumping her fists.
With its season on the line, Washington played its ace — and today, she was the trump card.