Central Washington Wins 8-7 on Hazlett Home Run
Play Video WWU's Autumn Isaacson slides under tag of CWU shortstop Taylor Ferleman for 31st stolen base of season (Photo by Jeffrey Gaca)
WWU's Autumn Isaacson slides under tag of CWU shortstop Taylor Ferleman for 31st stolen base of season (Photo by Jeffrey Gaca)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

RICHLAND, Wash. - Center fielder Michaela Hazlett hit a two-run home run in the top of the fifth and third-seed Central Washington went on to defeat second-seed Western Washington 8-7 in the opening game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball championships Thursday at Columbia Playfield.

The second game tonight will match top-seed Western Oregon against fourth-seed Saint Martin's.

The long-time rivals had played four times previously this season and all four were decided by one run, three times in walk-off fashion.  This one wasn't quite as dramatic as those three, at least in the final two innings as the fireworks came early.

In the four previous games each team scored a grand total of 13 runs.  This time, by the end of the fourth frame the teams had combined for 13. 

Each team had big leads only to let them get away.

After Western Washington (30-13) drew first blood in the opening frame on a single by Kaleigh Keating, the Wildcats (28-16) took a 2-1 lead in the second on a single by Jordan Zurfluh and a bases loaded walk to leadoff hitter Sammy Morris.

CWU added four more in the third for a 6-1 lead.  The Wildcats combined five hits, including RBI singles by designated hitter Kailyn Campbell, and Jordan Zurfluh, and an error in its big frame.

WWU, however, got back in it quickly getting  run in the third on a single by Haylee Baker and five in the fourth as the Wildcats booted the ball around committing three errors.  The Vikings also had four hits in the frame.  The only RBI of the inning came on a sacrifice fly by Amanda Flores to give the Vikings a 7-6 lead.

Despite the early offense, which ended in the fifth with Hazlett's blast after a two-out single by Andrea Hamada kept the inning alive,  both pitchers remained in the game to the end.

CWU pitcher Maria Gau, who was selected the GNAC Pitcher of the Year earlier this week, retired the final 10 hitters she faced and ended up allowing just eight hits and two earned runs.  Viking leadoff hitter Autumn Isaacson had three of them and also stole her 31st base of the season, extending her own GNAC record.

Gau improved to 17-6 with the victory.  WWU's Jenna DeRosier dropped to 17-5 as she gave up nine hits, two each to shortstop Taylor Ferleman and Zurfluh.  Only four of CWU's runs were earned.

Central Washington advances to Friday's winner's bracket game at 2 p.m. against the winner of tonight's second game between Western Oregon and Saint Martin's.  Western Washington faces a loser out game at 4:30 against tonight's Game 2 loser.

The winner of the tournament, which concludes Saturday, will earn an automatic berth in next week's NCAA West Regional.

Both Central Washington, which is ranked seventh, and Western Washington, which is ranked eighth in this week's NCAA West Regional poll, are candidates to receive one of the five at-large berths if they don't earn the automatic berth.