Tournament Time Continues For GNAC Softball
Central Washington's Kiana Wood was named GNAC Pitcher of the Week after pitching the Wildcats to two of their four victories.
Central Washington's Kiana Wood was named GNAC Pitcher of the Week after pitching the Wildcats to two of their four victories.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Emma Blauser, Western Washington
3B • 5-6 •  Senior • Federal Way, Wash.

Blauser hit .583 (7 for 12) with six runs, two doubles, two home runs and 3 RBI as the Vikings went 3-2 at the Desert Stinger in Las Vegas. She went 2 for 2 in Friday’s win over Augustana (S.D.) and had the homer that started a rally from four runs down at the Vikings beat No. 21 Regis 7-4.

Also Nominated: Kailyn Campbell (Central Washington), Lauren Diuco (Saint Martin’s), Cassidy Fifield (Northwest Nazarene), Kelsey Gardner (Western Oregon), Megan Luebbert (Concordia), Nicole Ratel (Simon Fraser), Bella Rovens (Montana State Billings).

Kiana Wood, Central Washington
LHP • 5-6 • Junior • Aloha, Ore.

Wood went 2-0 in three starts and earned a save as the Wildcats opened the season with a 4-1 record. She allowed three runs on six hits in Central Washington’s season-opening 5-3 win on Friday over No. 21 Regis and earned a save later that day in a 7-3 win over No. 25 Cal State Monterey Bay. On Saturday, Wood earned the win in relief as the Wildcats beat Hawaii Hilo 4-2. In 22 innings, Wood allowed seven runs on 14 hits and amassed a 2.23 earned run average.

Also Nominated: Megan Dettling (Montana State Billings), Kendall Goodwin (Northwest Nazarene), Kim Nelson (Saint Martin’s).

SAINTS MARCHING IN PERFECT: Six games into the season and Saint Martin’s is off to the best start in program history.

The Saints enter the week with a perfect 6-0 record, all of which have come on the road. They opened the season last Saturday with 6-0 and 9-5 victories at NAIA San Diego Christian. On Sunday, the Saints scored two runs in the top of the eighth to outlast Cal State San Marcos 8-6 before cruising to the take the nightcap of the doubleheader, 6-1.

Saint Martin’s opened up a six-game road trip against the Division II Hawaii teams on Thursday with a pair of easy victories, collecting 12-4 and 14-2 wins at BYU-Hawaii. The Saints will take on Chaminade on Saturday and Hawaii Pacific on Sunday.

The Saints enter the weekend leading the GNAC with a .350 batting average and a 2.30 earned run average. Junior Alyssa Slate is leading the Saints at the plate with a .500 batting average, .500 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage. Freshman Lauren Diuco has a .462 batting average with 10 runs while sophomore Kim Nelson is hitting .455 with three doubles and seven RBI.

Freshman Lauren Maley has yet to give up an earned run in two starts. In 9.1 innings of work, Maley has allowed two unearned runs on nine hits. Nelson boasts a 2.05 earned run average and a 3-0 record in 22 innings of work.

CAT SCRATCH: Of the six GNAC teams that traveled to the Montana State Billings Desert Stinger Tournament in Las Vegas, none came out as strong as the Wildcats of Central Washington.

The Wildcats outscored opponents 24-19 in their five games, going 4-1 in the process. The solid first weekend effort earned CWU, under first year head coach Mike Larabee, selection as the GNAC Red Lion Team of the Week.

Central Washington won their first two games of the tournament, including a 5-3 win over No. 21 ranked Regis, before taking their only loss in their first game on Saturday, a 7-3, eight-inning defeat by Concordia Irvine. The Wildcats finished up with two wins, 4-2 over Hawaii Hilo and 5-4 over Cal State Bernardino.

Central Washington enters their six-game Bay Area road trip with a .273 batting average and are second in the GNAC with a 3.50 team earned run average. Junior Kiana Wood was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 in three starts along with a save. In 22 innings, Wood has allowed eight runs, seven earned, on 14 hits with a .177 opponent batting average.

Junior Kailyn Campbell is the Wildcats’ leading hitter with a .389 batting average and a .611 slugging percentage.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: They are the new team in the GNAC this season, but Concordia is showing in their first week of Division II play that they will be able to compete just fine.

Picked to finish sixth in the eight-team GNAC, the Cavaliers went 3-2 in their first Desert Stinger Tournament. Their three wins included a 5-4 season-opening victory over New Mexico Highlands, a 12-2, six-inning affair with Minot State and a 3-2 win over Colorado Mesa. The Cavaliers, who play a pair of non-conference doubleheaders this weekend at Concordia-Irvine and Azusa Pacific, are currently second in the GNAC with a .329 team batting average and trail only Central Washington with their six home runs.

Senior Taylor Copher leads Concordia at the plate with a .529 batting average and an impressive .824 slugging percentage with nine hits and five RBI. Junior Meghan Luebbert is average .450 with a .900 slugging percentage. Sophomore Mattie Boucher leads the pitching staff with a .245 earned run average and leads the GNAC with 12 strikeouts.

AROUND THE HORNS: Western Washington opened their 2016 season with a 3-2 record at the Desert Stinger thanks in large part to the impressive hitting performance of senior Emma Blauser.

Blauser was named the first GNAC Softball Player of the Week for 2016 after she hit .853 with a 1.250 slugging percentage for the Vikings. She finished with seven hits, six runs, two doubles, two home runs and three RBI.

In addition to the great numbers, Blauser provided key hitting in big moments. She went 2 for 2 in Friday’s win over Augustana (S.D.) and had the homer that started a rally from four runs down at the Vikings beat No. 21 Regis 7-4.

TOURNAMENT TIME CONTINUES: The GNAC softball season continues to be dominated by tournament action. Western Oregon, Western Washington and Montana State Billings are competing at the Dixie State Tournament in St. George, Utah. Simon Fraser, one of the northernmost teams in the NCAA, continues their deep south trip as they compete in the Falcon Frenzy Tournament in Montevallo, Ala. No GNAC team will play a true home game until Thurs., Feb. 25, when Saint Martin’s is schedule to host NAIA foe Northwest (Wash.).

WESTERN WASHINGTON PICKED TO WIN IN PRESEASON POLL: A year after just missing a conference tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, coaches have picked Western Washington to reach the pinnacle in the 2016 Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Preseason Softball Coaches Poll.

The Vikings received five of eight first place votes, earning 61 points in the poll. Western Washington is clear and away the favorite over defending GNAC regular season champion Saint Martin’s, picked to finish second with 47 points. Western Oregon was picked third, close behind Saint Martin’s with 43 points.

Montana State Billings, who surprised the conference with a spirited run to the GNAC Tournament championship and their first trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament since 2012, was picked to finish fourth with 37 points. Central Washington finished one point behind, picked fifth with 36 points. The Wildcats were followed by GNAC newcomer Concordia (33 pts.), Simon Fraser (17 pts.) and Northwest Nazarene (14 pts.).