GNACSports.com
Super Regional Berth Gives CWU 2nd Straight TOW Award
The Central Washington softball team advanced to the NCAA Division II Softball Super Regional with a 9-6 victory over Azusa Pacific on Sunday.
The Central Washington softball team advanced to the NCAA Division II Softball Super Regional with a 9-6 victory over Azusa Pacific on Sunday.

Monday, May 9, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore.  – For the second consecutive week, the Central Washington softball team was awarded the GNAC’s Red Lion Team of the Week award after another tournament victory.

The Wildcats followed GNAC regular season and tournament titles with a victory at the NCAA Division II Softball West Region 2 Championships to advance to the Super Regional for the first time in program history. Central Washington will travel to face No. 1 seed Humboldt State in a three-game series beginning on Wed., May 11 with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight.

“I am just really, really proud of the way our players competed,” said head coach Mike Larabee. “That is one of our mantras, is to always compete. We have our work cut out for us against Humboldt State, but our players believe they can win and they will never quit.”

Central Washington opened the regional bracket in Azusa, Calif. with a 2-0 victory over No. 7 seed Dixie State. Starting pitcher Kiana Wood won her 19th game of the season with a complete game shutout, allowing just two hits. Catcher Austin Wilkerson drove in the first run of the game in the first inning and outfielder Celine Fowler provided an insurance run in the fifth inning with an RBI single.

In game two, the Wildcats faced host Azusa Pacific, but fell short in a 4-3 loss. Trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, the team rallied furiously for three runs in the sixth inning to close the deficit down to one, but couldn’t scratch across the tying run. The Wildcats outhit the Cougars 12-7 for the game, but were still forced into the elimination round after the loss.

After a rain delay that washed out their Friday game, CWU got things going quickly on Saturday against UC San Diego. The Wildcats started with a three-run home run by Brielle Copodonna in the first inning and then tacked on a run in the second inning and two more runs in the fifth inning to hold a 6-2 lead through six innings. The Tritons answered in the seventh inning with three runs, but Central Washington held them off for the 6-5 victory, advancing to the championship round to face Azusa Pacific once again.

With the Cougars entering the finals undefeated, Central Washington needed two straight wins to claim the regional title. In game one, the Wildcats threw Wood out once again and she did not disappoint, throwing another complete game with three runs allowed. Copodonna hit another first inning three-run home run and Laura Steiner hit a pinch-hit three-run blast to back Wood and the Wildcats to a 7-3 victory.

In the decisive final game of the tournament, the Wildcats slugged their way to a 9-6 victory. After giving up three runs in the top half of the sixth inning to even the score 6-6, Central Washington responded with three runs of their own thanks to run scoring singles by Wilkerson and Copodonna to take the 9-6 victory and the West Region 2 title.

“It is so much better to be on the winning end of [the regional],” said Wilkerson. “We had a lot of confidence coming into the regional. Everyone is really selfless this year. It is not about stats, it is about whatever gets the win.”

Central Washington continues its historic season at the NCAA Division II Softball West Super Regional, taking on Humboldt State in a three-game series beginning on Wed., May 11 in Arcata, Calif.

Copyright ©2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved. GNACSports.com