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Strasser Sizzles, Reuble Rolls Wildcats Into Softball Final
Lexie Strasser earned her 16th win of the season as she allowed two runs on eight hits. She has pitched 15 of the Wildcats' 19 innings in the Championships. Photo by Phillip Sedgwick.
Lexie Strasser earned her 16th win of the season as she allowed two runs on eight hits. She has pitched 15 of the Wildcats' 19 innings in the Championships. Photo by Phillip Sedgwick.

Friday, May 3, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – In a tournament where pitching battles have been the norm, it seems natural that Central Washington rode the solid arm of Lexie Strasser into a spot in Saturday’s GNAC Softball Championships final.

The sophomore allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out one as the Wildcats earned a spot in their third championship final with a 2-1 victory over No. 4 seed Northwest Nazarene at Porter Park.

Strasser improved to 16-10 on the season to outlast a solid performance by Northwest Nazarene freshman Maya McNicoll, who allowed five runs on six hits with six walks in just her seventh start and her longest outing of the year.

The Wildcats (32-17) will face Concordia in a rematch of Friday’s first game for the championship beginning on Saturday at noon. The Cavaliers earned the first spot in the final by shutting out Central Washington 7-0. Northwest Nazarene, which was aiming for its second-straight appearance in the final, sees its season end with a 28-24 overall record.

Junior Julia Reuble led the Wildcats offensively, going 2 for 3 with a run and two RBIs, both coming on a two-run double in the top of the seventh. Senior Anna Williams led Northwest Nazarene by going 2 for 3 with two RBI.

The Wildcats picked up their first two runs in the second with the benefit of just one hit. Reuble had the one hit, a leadoff double and eventually scored on a pair of wild pitches. Sophomore Maddy Zerr reached in the first of three walks allowed by McNicoll in the inning and would score on a groundout by senior Bethany Balucan.

Northwest Nazarene cut its deficit in half in the home half of the third inning. Junior Rae Young led off the frame with a single to right, advanced to second on a ground out and came home on Williams’ double to left center field.

Central Washington saw a golden scoring opportunity go unrealized in the fourth when senior Kayla Ellis drew a leadoff walk, but pinch-runner Theresa Moyle was erased when she was caught stealing and certainly would have scored when sophomore Sydney Brown doubled two batters later.

The Wildcats added what ended up being three critical runs on the top of the seventh. Senior Rachael Johnson and junior Savannah Egbert hit back-to-back singles with one out. Johnson scored what would be the winning run on a ground out before Reuble put the game out of reach with a two-run double to right center field.

The Nighthawks put together a short-lived rally in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Rae Young led off with a double to right field and scored on Williams’ two-out single to left.

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