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Six In A Week: Central Washington Claims Weekly Honor
Catcher Kayla Ellis went 3 for 6 with four walks, three RBIs and two runs in the six games.
Catcher Kayla Ellis went 3 for 6 with four walks, three RBIs and two runs in the six games.

Monday, March 27, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – With three sweeps in one week against conference opponents, Central Washington softball earned this week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week honor, extending its lead in the GNAC standings to four games with an 11-game winning streak.

Since dropping their GNAC opener 7-6 to Northwest Nazarene, the Wildcats have rattled off 11 wins in a row, including six this past week. Central Washington started with a sweep against Western Washington on Monday before returning to Ellensburg, Washington, for the first time this year to win four games in two days against Western Oregon and Concordia.

Kiana Wood made five pitching appearances throughout the week and had a decision in each outing, picking up four wins and a save for CWU. She recorded 25.1 innings of work and brought her ERA down to a GNAC-best 3.03 in her senior year.

“I am very excited with our team right now,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “It took us a little while to figure things out, but we are playing at a high level. I am excited and encouraged about our work ethic, and the dedication the girls are showing this season. From top to bottom, the GNAC is very deep, so what the team has accomplished thus far is remarkable, so it’s hard to go on a run like this.”

Central Washington opened the week with an 11-1 victory against Western Washington, scoring three runs in each of the last three innings. Kailyn Campbell reached base in all five plate appearances with three singles, two walks and four runs scored in the victory. Taylor Ferleman also reached base in each of her five plate appearances with two singles, an RBI triple and two walks as the Wildcats handed Western Washington’s Anna Kasner just the third loss of her collegiate career.

The nightcap against WWU went extra innings, but Central Washington put four runs on the board in the top of the eighth to claim an 8-4 win. The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out on a bunt single and two fielding errors. Central Washington then got RBI-singles from Paige Liikala, Rachael Johnson and Campbell to secure the doubleheader sweep.

In Saturday’s long-awaited home opener for CWU, the Wildcats registered a 4-3 win against Western Oregon. Savananah Egbert started the scoring for the Wildcats with a two-run home run to right-center field in the second inning. Jacie McDaniels added two more runs in the fifth inning with a single through the left side to drive in Campbell and Sammy Morris. Wood then protected the Wildcats’ one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, retiring the side with just one runner reaching base for her seventh win of the season.

In the second game against the Wolves, Egbert stayed hot with two doubles to help the Wildcats score seven runs in the first four innings. That proved to be enough for the 7-6 victory as Wood entered the game in relief to retire six of seven batters in two shutout innings for the save.

The following day against Concordia, Central Washington needed its first comeback of the week after allowing two runs in the top of the first inning. The Wildcats got that back with an RBI double by Campbell following by single to left field by Egbert, who finished the game with three singles, two runs, an RBI and a walk.

The Wildcats finished the week with a high-scoring affair to beat the Cavaliers 12-9 in Sunday’s nightcap. Campbell hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning to five the Wildcats a 7-3 lead. McDaniels, after driving in a run with a double in the bottom of the first inning, recorded her second RBI double in the sixth inning to spark a four-run frame for CWU.

Because of rainy conditions in Ellensburg, Central Washington had not been able to practice outside all year until March 13. Since then, the Wildcats have won eight games in a row.

“Being outside the last couple of weeks, I have seen a lot of improvement,” Larabee said. “I love the way we are coming together and gelling. There are a few positions up for grabs, but most importantly, everyone is taking a businesslike approach to games and opponents. It is hard to sweep teams in this conference.”

The Wildcats will next go to Turlock, Calif. for a game against Stanislaus State, two days before the Tournament of Champions begins. The Wildcats will play five games at the Tournament of Champions, which spans three days. Central Washington begins with Cal State San Bernardino on March 31.

“We are looking forward to the warmer weather and playing some really good teams from our region,” Larabee said. “This is always a good test for us, and we get to see where we are at now as opposed to the start of the season playing non-conference teams. If we go down there and play a high level of softball, we have a good chance at winning a handful of games in Turlock.”

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