24/04/2024

Gabbie Plain in action for the Washington Huskies (Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Australian pitcher Gabbie Plain is a top-three finalist in the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year as the Washington Huskies prepare for regionals.

Harrington Park local Gabbie Plain has capped off a National Collegiate Athletic Association regular softball season with the Washington Huskies as a top-three finalist in the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year rankings.

Plain is the first Husky since Danielle Lawrie in 2010 to be named one of three finalists for the award, and could join the 2009 and 2010 winner as the only Huskies to collect the national Player of the Year award.

The University of Washington senior was one of two Huskies to make the top 25, alongside infielder Sis Bates. The pair made the top 10 however only Plain found her way into the top three, announced May 19 PDT.

The two others vying for the title are Oklahoma utility Jocelyn Alo and UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia with the winner crowned on June 1 PDT.

The right-hander was also announced as the 2021 Pacific-12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, while earning four Pitcher of the Week honours across the season and made the All-Pac-12 First Team this season, for the third year in a row.

The Pitcher of the Year award sees Plain enter elite territory – one of three Huskies to earn the achievement behind Jennifer Spediacci (2000) and Lawrie (2009, 2010). It’s also the first individual yearly award for a Husky pitcher since Taran Alvelo won Newcomer of the Year in 2016.

To continue a campaign full of accolades, Plain made the All-Region team for the third time and her second First Team award.

It puts her, Lawrie, Alvelo, Spediacci, Kaitlin Inglesby, and Tia Bollinger as the only Husky pitchers to earn three or more All-Region honours in their careers.

Plain lead the Pac-12 Conference in almost every pitching category – wins (29), strikeouts (302), complete games (22) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.55). She finished second in earned run average (1.19) from over 200 innings pitched.

She had eight scoreless appearances against Pac-12 schools, including her sixth career no-hitter. On six occasions against fellow Pac-12 competitors and 14 times overall for the season, Plain struck out ten or more batters in a game.

The stellar season from Plain sees her inside the top 10 all-time wins for Washington, as well as top five in both strikeouts and shutouts. Her six career no-hitters are second in Husky history, two behind Lawrie.

Speaking to Anthony Edwards at The Daily, Plain reflected on a 2020 campaign where, to her lofty standards, she underperformed in a shortened 18-appearance season.

“After seeing the way everyone picked me up when I wasn’t performing last year, as well as getting to know everyone better this year, I feel more comfortable knowing that I can just go out there, do my job, and pitch,” Plain said.

“And if I need to, someone else can come in and take over for me. Everyone is willing to do the job that is there. It’s just to go out there and have fun.”

To UW alum Lawrie, it came as little surprise that Plain would dominate as her variety in pitching is what allows her to put the team in a position to win games.

“Gabbie’s one of the best in the game, strictly because of the movement she has on the ball,” Lawrie said.

“She has a repertoire of pitches, but she doesn’t miss over the plate and she’s able to keep the ball down in the zone. If you’re able to do that, you can’t struggle much when you keep the ball down.”

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Plain, who played locally at Macarthur Softball Association in New South Wales, is also hoping to cap off a great season by making the final cut for the Aussie Spirit side that will go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Spirit have achieved a medal placing at each of the four Olympic Games softball has been played at so far.

The current squad of 23 Australians – that includes only two with Olympic experience – will be whittled down to 15 names ahead of the event.

Speaking to Chris Egan from KING5 Sports, Plain detailed her desire to compete in the national setup and represent her home country on the international stage.

“To go to the Olympics, it would be incredible, like, an amazing experience, once-in-a-lifetime probably,” Plain said.

“So, I think it would just be an amazing experience to have, being there with all the girls, having so much fun and competing at the highest level that you can get in international softball. It would be just incredible.”

Softball will be the first sporting event to get underway when Tokyo 2020 begins on July 21. The date will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of softball’s Olympic Games debut at Atlanta in 1996.

Gabbie Plain pitching for Australia A during the 2020 Australia Pacific Cup at Blacktown International Sportspark. (Photo: Softball Australia)

Looking ahead to the NCAA Regionals that begin this weekend, the Washington Huskies claimed the 16th seed after a strong Pac-12 where they finished second overall with a 41-11 record.

Washington will host Michigan, Seattle U and Portland State as the Huskies play for their first championship since 2009. Washington’s first game of the regional tournament is against Portland State on May 22 from 12:30pm AEST.

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