Photo By: Courtesy of Victoria Hayward
Mountain View High graduate Victoria Hayward batted .372 this season for the University of Washington softball team.
Victoria Hayward first watched the Women’s College World Series on TV nearly a decade ago and hasn’t missed one since.
This year, the Mountain View High graduate did more than watch – she was part of the action.
Hayward helped the University of Washington softball team advance to the eight-team tournament in Oklahoma City, where the NCAA Division I champion is crowned each June.
The Huskies didn’t take home the title, tying for third, but Hayward cherishes the experience.
“It was honestly a dream come true to play at the World Series,” the starting right fielder said. “Every year since I was 13 or so, I have watched the tournament on television dreaming of (one day) playing college softball.”
Hayward experienced a pinch-me moment just before Washington played its first game of the weeklong series.
“Once we were finally there, it didn’t hit me that it was actually the World Series until they announced my name at the beginning of the Nebraska game in front of almost 10,000 people,” she said.
Washington won the May 30 opener – 4-3 in extra innings – and Hayward came up with one of the biggest hits of the game. The junior drilled a one-out triple in the seventh and eventually scored the tying run.
Hayward called that “the highlight of the tournament for me.”
The Huskies prevailed an inning later on Kim Souza’s walk-off homer.
Washington dropped its next game, 1-0 to Tennessee June 1, but bounced back the next day with a 4-1 win over Michigan in which Hayward notched a hit and scored a run. The Huskies’ season ended that night, however, as eventual champ Oklahoma eliminated them from the series in a 6-2 decision.
With the core of the team returning next year, Hayward is hopeful Washington will get another crack at the title in 2014.
“We want to be back in Oklahoma City competing for a national championship and vying for a Pac-12 championship as well,” she said. “We can’t wait to get back together and start our next – and my last – road to Oklahoma City and a national championship.”
The Huskies posted a 45-17 record this year and ranked fourth nationally. Hayward played a major role in the team’s success. She batted .372 with six doubles, six triples, five home runs, 21 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. Hayward’s batting average ranked 139th among NCAA Division I players and her six triples ranked 12th.
“As the leadoff hitter throughout the season, I set the tone for our offense at the top of the lineup,” she said. “I was very pleased with my performance this year, although we didn’t end up with the trophy we’ve dreamed of.”
Hayward’s efforts did not go unnoticed. She was named First Team All-Pacific Region and to the All-Pac-12 First Team.
Born in Toronto, Hayward will play for the Canadian National Team this summer.