By LANCE FLEMING
Abilene ISD Communications

Former Abilene High School softball standout Alyssa Washington and her teammates at the University of Texas are in the Women’s College World Series best-of-3 championship series in Oklahoma City, which continues tonight against three-time defending national champion Oklahoma.

The Sooners won Game 1 of the series, 8-3, Wednesday night with Game 2 scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m.. You can watch the game on ESPN and ESPN+.

Washington and the Longhorns – the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament – need a win tonight to avoid elimination and force a winner-take-all game Friday at 7 p.m. A senior second baseman for the Longhorns, Washington is hitting .336 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI and has started 52 of the team’s 64 games (55-9 on the year).

Washington – profiled by AISD in June 2022 after helping the Longhorns reach the WCWS championship series against OU – was selected by the Texas coaching staff as the first “captain” of a Longhorn softball team in program history before the start of the 2024 season. That’s quite an accomplishment for a player in a program that has produced notable standouts such as Cat Osterman, Janae Jefferson, and Christa Williams. Osterman – one of the greatest pitchers the game has seen – was a three-time USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and a three-time Olympic medalist while Jefferson is one of two four-time All-Americans in program history.

“I’ve dreamed my whole life about playing softball at The University of Texas and to be able to be the first softball player ever to wear a ‘C’ on my jersey, that’s just something I’ll be forever grateful for,” Washington told texassports.com earlier this season.

Washington came through as a captain should Monday evening against Stanford, scoring the game’s only run in the top of the seventh inning to give Texas a 1-0 win over the Cardinal, sending it into the championship series. With no outs and runners at second and third in a scoreless game, Texas outfielder Ashton Maloney dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt to try and get Washington home from third base.

But the bunt went right back to Stanford pitcher NiJaree Canady, who quickly tossed the ball to her catcher Teagan Cavan with Washington barely halfway home. But Washington made something happen, moving back toward third base before quickly turning and sprinting for the plate. The throw home beat her, but Washington slid to the back side of the plate, barely getting in under the tag to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead. The Cardinal went up and down in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Longhorns the victory.

The Longhorns need two wins to capture the softball program’s first national championship. And they’ll need their captain to once again be at her best.