Nothing Trivial In This Pursuit -- Huskies' Newest Team, Softball, Makes Immediate Impact On Field
True or false?
1) The first softball victory in University of Washington history came against the team ranked 11th in the country - in only the second game of the first season.
2) The Huskies' third baseman is so afraid of lightning, she once dived to the ground between pitches during a game when a crash of thunder sounded.
3) The first time the Huskies showed up for a practice at Hidden Valley Park in Bellevue, the baselines were freshly lined with chalk - all four baselines.
True, true, all too true.
Welcome to the inaugural season of Husky softball, where only the victories can keep up with the oddities.
"Basically, everybody has some personality on this team," said sophomore Allison Mick. "And everything you do is the first.
"It's no problem coming out to practice every day. You always know you're going to have fun, and you're going to learn something."
You could have learned a lot about the 14 personalities collected by Coach Teresa Wilson and assistant John Rittner in this first season of Husky softball by having lunch at the Fullerton, Calif., Burger King three weeks ago on a road trip.
If you sat close enough to the booth occupied by Mick and freshmen Mindy Williams and Jennifer Cline as they created Husky Softball Trivial Pursuit, you might have learned about:
-- The first Husky to suffer a concussion while running sprints during practice - freshman Stephanie Wold, who hit her head when she fell on the turf at Husky Stadium in a preseason practice.
-- The first Husky softball trainer to miss the same team bus twice: Valerie Girand, who after missing it the first time, had looked for another ride while the bus returned after realizing she was missing. Girand, who managed to find a ride, happened upon the bus at a stop light a few minutes later, jumped out of the car, ran to the bus and banged on the door until the startled driver let her in.
-- The first set of purple Husky practice pants. The second set was on the way by the team's second practice after many of the seams in the pants split during the first practice.
"Everything we kind of do, we're winging it," junior center fielder Angie Marzetta said. "Everything's kind of written in sand right now, but it's slowly becoming concrete."
Case in point: Game 1.
"Every team has their own chants or pregame screams," said Marzetta, a transfer from Central Arizona, recalling the team's first pregame huddle. "I remember before our first game, looking at each other with blank faces, wondering, `What do we do now?' "
Blank stares, split seams and twice-missed buses?
The only difference between these '93 Huskies and the '69 Seattle Pilots is that Stephanie Burns' curveball breaks more than Gene Brabender's did.
And the Huskies win more often. Entering this weekend's four-game home series against top-ranked UCLA (28-3), the defending national champion, the Huskies have a 24-19 record with four victories in 16 games against Top 20 opponents.
The Huskies wasted little time getting their first victory, beating 11th-ranked Michigan 4-0 in the second game of the season - a day after the Wolverines had beaten the UW 7-0.
"The only thing that we weren't really sure about was how they would react to the pressure, when you consider 12 of your first 16 games are against teams in the Top 20," said Wilson, who coached playoff teams at Minnesota and Oregon before taking the Husky job. "They reacted great."
Washington has been led by players such as Marzetta (conference-leading 44 stolen bases, second-ranking .473 batting average), Burns (16-11, 1.18 earned-run average), Cline (.364, seven home runs) and freshman Tami Storseth (a Pac-10 player of the week in March).
But the real success of the Huskies this season has been their reaction to each other.
"I'm kind of surprised we're all jelling so well, that we're all getting along," said junior Nancy Jackson, nicknamed "Grandma," because at 21, she's the team's oldest player.
Jackson's "frail" health might have helped inspire that nickname.
Two days after feeling pain in her side while pitching a one-hitter against Santa Clara last month, she sneezed - and doubled over in pain. Broken rib. She's expected to be out for at least another two weeks.
Incidentally, Mick is the correct answer to several of her own Husky trivia questions, including, "Who was the first Husky to be thrown out of a softball game?" (slid home spikes-high) and "Which Husky most fears severe weather phenomena?"
"I'm from California. I'm not used to it," Mick said of the lightning and thunder that swept through the area last week. "We barely get rain, much less lightning."
Said Wilson, "We have some kids on this team you have to just sit and laugh at."
Most of the laughing stops when the team with six freshmen starters takes the field. And some of the history-making takes on a serious tone.
Marzetta wouldn't have come to Washington otherwise.
She and Jackson were teammates at Central Arizona, the five-time defending junior-college national champion.
"They had already won three championships when I got there," Marzetta said. "It seemed like I was following in footsteps of other people, where coming to Washington I'd have my chance to make my own footsteps and make my own little bit of history."
She and the Huskies get their best chance of the season in 1 p.m. doubleheaders tomorrow and Saturday at Hidden Valley Park.
"There's no team that we can't beat," Wilson said. "They realize they have to play a near-perfect game to do that, but it's possible with this group."
Anything's possible with this group.
Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.