Perfect 6-0 Week Earns CWU Softball Team of Week Award
Jill McDaniels had 10 hits and eight RBI leading CWU to six wins last week.
Jill McDaniels had 10 hits and eight RBI leading CWU to six wins last week.

Monday, April 14, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

PORTLAND, Ore. – When the Central Washington Wildcats started their 2014 softball campaign 5-0 at the Desert Stinger Classic in Las Vegas in early March, head coach Mallory Holtman-Fletcher commented on getting off to a hot start and peaking toward the end of the season.

“We have told the girls the whole year that it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish,” said Holtman-Fletcher.

Clinching a berth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Softball Championship with a 6-0 record in conference games last week, the Wildcats are doing just that. CWU swept doubleheaders against Simon Fraser, Western Oregon, and Saint Martin’s to earn GNAC Team of the Week honors.

“We saw Simon Fraser in California and they were hitting the ball well,” Holtman-Fletcher commented on her team’s first opponent of the week. “We knew we had to come out aggressively and shut them down, and we were able to do that.”

After winning Game 1 against SFU 3-0, CWU relied on a crucial two-run single by Andrea Hamada in the seventh inning to overcome a 4-3 deficit in the 5-4 victory.

Against the Wolves of Western Oregon, the Wildcats entered the doubleheader well prepared after splitting a pair of games with WOU earlier in the season. In addition to the major implications on the softball standings, the series marked CWU’s amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awareness day, presenting a larger overarching theme to the games.

“That day was our fundraiser for ALS and it’s easy to get the girls up for those games,” Holtman-Fletcher said. “They knew that they were playing for a reason and a purpose greater than themselves, and with that mindset good things happen.”

The Wildcats kicked off the doubleheader against the Wolves in similar fashion to the first game in the SFU series, storming to an 8-0 triumph. Jill McDaniels was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI, backing Maria Gau’s complete game, five-strikeout shutout. 

CWU had to work for an 8-6 win in Game 2 against the Wolves, playing from behind until a big three-run sixth inning put the Wildcats in front for good. 

“Maria against WOU was incredible, and she really shut them down,” Holtman-Fletcher commented on the performance of the co-Red Lion Pitcher of the Week. “I have been so impressed with her senior leadership and ability to come into and control huge situations for us.

“What Jill did against Western was really special, and Sammy Morris has been on fire in the leadoff spot for us,” Holtman-Fletcher commented on the senior-freshman duo. 

Fueled by the momentum of four-straight victories, the Wildcats entered the series against Saint Martin’s with confidence and yet another boost from a theme to the doubleheader.

“That was senior day for us and we are graduating seven players. There was definitely a lot of emotion heading into those games,” Holtman-Fletcher commented on Sunday’s doubleheader. “SMU scored a few runs in the first innings on some errors, but when we settled down and began to use our energy in a positive way, it really helped us win those games.”

CWU found itself down 2-0 after the first inning of Game 1 against SMU, but Kailyn Campbell erupted with a 3-for-4, six-RBI performance to pace the Wildcats. Campbell’s effort pushed her team to a 9-3 victory, and the Wildcats capped off the perfect week with a 3-1 triumph in Game 2 against the Saints.

Taryn Smith did such a good job coming in and keeping them off balance, and for Kailyn to have six RBI in Game 1 was really a game changer,” said Holtman-Fletcher. “In Game 2, we were able to string hits together and anytime you can make the other team work to get outs that is good.”

With its ticket punched to the conference championships beginning May 1, Central Washington faces one final four-game series against Northwest Nazarene to close the regular season.

“We know we are going to the tournament now but we want to create momentum and go in on a big note,” said Holtman-Fletcher. “NNU is a much better team than they have been in recent years, and we certainly don’t want to take any opponent lightly.”

After being picked to finish third in the preseason coaches’ poll, CWU has already lived up to expectations by making the conference tournament. With a six-game winning streak on their side and the confidence and inspiration brought about by the team’s senior leadership, the Wildcats are set for a championship run.

“We knew that if our bats came alive at the right time that we were going to be a dangerous team,” said Holtman-Fletcher. “We are firing on all cylinders right now and everyone is making an impact. We are getting hot at the right time.”