Western Oregon Advances To GNAC Softball Title Game
Play Video A two-run single by Danielle Harcourt gave Western Oregon the lead in the fifth (Photo by Jeffrey Gaca)
A two-run single by Danielle Harcourt gave Western Oregon the lead in the fifth (Photo by Jeffrey Gaca)

Friday, May 2, 2014

RICHLAND, Wash. - Western Oregon used great relief pitching by Kelli Demianew and a six-run fifth to overcame an early 4-0 deficit and went on to defeat Central Washington 8-4 Friday afternoon in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Softball Championships at Columbia Playfield.

The win earns WOU (32-20), the GNAC's regular-season champion and No. 1 seed, a berth in Saturday's championship game at noon.

With her team facing an early 4-0 deficit in the second inning, Demianew, who improved to 16-9 on the season, rode to the rescue.

She replaced starter Jordan Williams in  the circle with two outs and runners on second and third.  She got out of that jam by getting CWU catcher Austin Wilkerson to pop up.

The WOU ace then gave up a leadoff single to Kailyn Campbell in the third, but was untouchable the remainder of the way retiring 15 of the 16 hitters she faced.  The only batter to reach base got there when Demianew plucked her with a pitch to start the fifth.

Demianew finished the contest allowing just the one hit in 5 1/3 innings.  She didn't walk anyone and struck out two.

CWU (28-17) did its early damage with a pair of two-base hits. 

Campbell, the Wildcats' designated hitter, doubled to score two runs in the first inning.  Then in the second cleanup hitter Jill McDaniels plated two more runs with another two-base hit.

After Demianew stopped the bleeding, she had to rely on her offense to get her team back in the game.

WOU started the comeback scoring twice in their half of the second on a single by second baseman Kelsie Gardner.

But, they had to wait until the fifth before they could get to CWU ace Marie Gau, the GNAC Pitcher of the Year, for more runs.

That inning started with three consecutive singles by Gardner, Amanda Evola who made a diving catch to end CWU's fourth, and Bridjet Box.  Box's hit plated Gardner.  After a foul out, Gau walked designated player Raina Reece to load the bases.

They, however, didn't stay loaded for long as left fielder Danielle Harcourt then singled to left to drive in a pair of runs and give the Wolves a 5-4 lead.

That wasn't enough, however, for third baseman Ashlie Gardner, who homered to right to plate three more and effectively decide the contest.

The Gardners combed for five hits and five RBI in the contest as Kelsie went four-for-four from the No. 2 hole and Ashlie, batting eighth, had one hit and also walked.

The win earned WOU the rest of the day off.  They'll play again Saturday at noon for the championship.  If WOU loses that game, it will get a second chance to claim the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA regionals at 2:30.

Central Washington  will play again this evening at 7 p.m. against  fourth-seed Saint Martin's.  The Saints, who are the defending champions, eliminated Western Washington 4-3 in Friday's second game.