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Nighthawks, Wildcats Lead GNAC Softball Field
Northwest Nazarene (left) is in the GNAC Championships for the first time while Central Washington is making its fifth appearance.
Northwest Nazarene (left) is in the GNAC Championships for the first time while Central Washington is making its fifth appearance.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – A newcomer to the postseason and one of the conference’s more seasoned playoff teams will be the teams to beat as the seeds have been set for the 2018 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Softball Championships, which begin Thursday at Concordia University’s Porter Park.

Northwest Nazarene, the newcomer to the postseason party, enters as the tournament’s No. 1 seed. In the GNAC Championships for the first time, the Nighthawks claimed a share of their first GNAC regular-season championship by winning five of seven series against conference opponents and winning eight of their final 10 regular season games. Northwest Nazarene went 19-9 during GNAC play and enters the tournament with a 28-21 record.

Central Washington, the No. 2 seed, is in the GNAC Championships for the third consecutive season. The Wildcats claimed a share of their third consecutive regular-season championship by winning their last five games, including a four-game sweep of Saint Martin’s on the final weekend of the season to tie Northwest Nazarene at 19-9 (30-14 overall).

Simon Fraser is sending head coach Mike Renney out with a nice retirement gift, his second trip to the GNAC Championships. The No. 3 seed in the tournament closed the regular season by winning four of its final five games to finish tied for third in conference play at 15-13. The Clan locked up the spot with a doubleheader sweep of Concordia on Sunday. Renney, in his 24th year as SFU head coach, announced last week that he will retire at the end of this season.

Western Oregon, the No. 4 seed, held on through the final two weeks of the season to earn its sixth consecutive trip to the Championships. The Wolves were 6-8 in April entering the final day of the season before a doubleheader sweep of Western Washington on Sunday allowed WOU to finish tied with Simon Fraser at 15-13, 27-23 overall.

Tournament action begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday with No. 2 seed Central Washington taking on No. 3 seed Simon Fraser while No. 1 Northwest Nazarene will play No. 4 seed Western Oregon at 7 p.m. The championship game of the double-elimination tournament will take place Saturday at noon with the winner earning the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Championship.

Every game of the GNAC Softball Championships will be webcast at GNAC.tv. Advance tickets are available now at GNACTickets.com.

GNAC SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
May 3-5 at Porter Park, Portland, Ore.

THURS., MAY 3
Game 1: No. 3 Simon Fraser vs. No. 2 Central Washington, 4:30 p.m.
Game 2: No. 4 Western Oregon vs. No. 1 Northwest Nazarene, 7 p.m.

FRI., MAY 4
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 4:30 p.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 7 p.m.

SAT., MAY 5
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, Noon
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary), 30 minutes following conclusion of Game 6

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