Big Weeks By Benthagen, Skinner Headline POTW Selections
Alyssa Benthagen led all GNAC softball players in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage last week.
Alyssa Benthagen led all GNAC softball players in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage last week.

Monday, March 18, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – Each propelling their teams to four victories last week, Northwest Nazarene’s Gina Skinner and Central Washington’s Alyssa Benthagen headlined the latest GNAC Player of the Week awards unveiled on Monday.

Skinner was nearly untouchable across her three complete games, allowing just 16 total baserunners in her 21 innings of work. She twice beat No. 15 Western Washington to help the No. 18 Nighthawks split their road series against the Vikings, and added a win last Monday with a complete-game effort over Simon Fraser.


Player of the Week – Alyssa Benthagen, Central Washington

Second-career player of the week, first this season.

Benthagen led the Wildcats to a four-game sweep of Montana State Billings on their home turf. The senior catcher led all GNAC players in batting average (.667), slugging percentage (.933), on-base percentage (.762), and hits (10), while driving in six runs, scoring seven and hitting her first home run of the year. In addition to her GNAC-leading 10 hits, Benthagen drew four walks and did not strike out in 15 plate appearances in the series. Defensively, she made 18 plays behind the plate including catching two of the four runners who attempted to steal on her.

Also Nominated: Teagan Seeton, MSUB; Emma Mulligan, NNU; Ashley Goodale, SMU; Natalie Willoughby, WOU; Emma Andrewjeski-Ramirez, WWU.

Pitcher of the Week – Gina Skinner, Northwest Nazarene

First-career pitcher of the week.

Skinner kicked off her big week by allowing one unearned run in the Nighthawks’ 6-1 victory over Simon Fraser, which clinched a four-game series sweep of the Red Leafs. Facing the 15th-ranked Vikings on Friday, Skinner delivered a three-hit shutout which her team desperately needed in the 1-0 triumph. She capped her big week with a five-hit shutout of the Vikings on Saturday, again helping the Nighthawks claim a narrow, 2-0 win. Skinner struck out seven batters while walking just two in her 21 innings of work, and gave up 12 total hits for a WHIP of 0.67 on the week.

Also Nominated: Ashlee Laver, CWU; Chloe Leverington, SMU; Alivia Holden, WOU; Joie Baker, WWU.


Player of the Week – Carter Walsh, Northwest Nazarene

First-career player of the week.

Walsh led all GNAC players with a batting average of .563 (9-for-16) and an on-base percentage of .579, as he helped the Nighthawks slug their way to a four-game sweep at Montana State Billings. Walsh’s nine hits and nine RBIs were also the most among all GNAC players last week, and he racked up three doubles, a triple and scored seven runs. The freshman’s most productive effort came in NNU’s 13-7 win on Saturday, as he went 3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs and a season-high four RBIs.

Also Nominated: Payton Flynn, MSUB; Hunter Sasaki, SMU.

Pitcher of the Week – Justice Yamashita, Saint Martin’s

Fifth-career pitcher of the week, first this season.

Yamashita tossed a four-hit shutout in the Saints’ 1-0 win over Western Oregon, notching his first shutout of the season and third of his collegiate career. The right-hander had the second-most strikeouts by a GNAC pitcher last week with six, was one of just two pitchers in the league to not surrender a run and he limited the opposition to a batting average of .160.

Also Nominated: Sage Wayment, MSUB; Wade Duncan, NNU; Dylan Chalmers, WOU.


Track Athlete of the Week – Ellie DeGroot, Central Washington

First-career athlete of the week.

DeGroot ran the third-fastest 400-meter hurdles time in Division II this spring, clocking a PR mark of 1:01.03 to win the event at the Pacific Lutheran Open. DeGroot’s provisional qualifying time was the best by a GNAC athlete this spring, and put her name on the GNAC all-time top-10 list with the ninth-fastest time in conference history. DeGroot also helped the CWU women win their heat of the 4x400-meter relay, as they ran the conference’s fastest time of the spring at 4:00.30.

Also Nominated: Liv Heite, UAA; Annelise Sexson, MSUB; Madison Vu, SMU; Megan Roxby, SFU.

Field Athlete of the Week – Lizzy Daugherty, Seattle Pacific

Fourth-career athlete of the week, first this season.

Daugherty turned in a provisional qualifying mark in the pole vault, clearing a height of 12’ 6.25” (3.82 meters) at the Pacific Lutheran Open. The top GNAC vault thus far in 2024, Daugherty’s mark was the eighth-best in GNAC outdoor history. She was just 3.25” off her overall PR of 12’ 9.5” (3.90 meters) which she hit in her final meet of the indoor season on Feb. 24.

Also Nominated: Payton Elenbaas, CWU; Hannah Cooper, MSUB; Jocelyn Saribay, SMU; Liliana Lyness, WOU.


Track Athlete of the Week – Jake Hall, Simon Fraser

First-career athlete of the week.

Hall turned in a pair of strong sprint performances, running the conference’s fastest 100 meters time of the spring (10.74 seconds) and the fifth-fastest 200 meters time (22.23 seconds) at the SFU High Performance #1 meet. Hall topped a field of 23 competitors to win the 100 meters in PR fashion, before finishing second among a field of 19 runners in the 200 meters.

Also Nominated: Joshua Caleb, UAA; Josh Green, CWU; Andrew Rush, MSUB; Zach Franco, SMU; Brennen Murphy, WOU.

Field Athlete of the Week – Jarrett Chong, Simon Fraser

Second-career athlete of the week, first this season.

Chong delivered the GNAC’s top javelin throw of 2024, with a toss of 216’ 11” (66.12 meters) at the SFU High Performance #1 meet. The redshirt sophomore now sits third on the NCAA Division II performance list with the provisional qualifying throw, which was just 8” shy of his PR of 217’ 7” (66.33 meters).

Also Nominated: Marc Mercier, UAA; Wyatt Franklin, CWU; Ryan Fenley, MSUB; Ethan Guidry, SMU; David Njeri, SPU; Mark Warren, WOU; Angelo Ramos, WWU.


Player of the Week – Madison Gridley, Northwest Nazarene

Fourth-career player of the week, third this season.

Gridley tied for fourth at the Southwest Minnesota State Classic last week, carding a 4-over-par 148 to lead the Nighthawks. Gridley followed a 3-over-par 75 in the opening round with a 1-over-par 73 in the second round, which was the best individual round score by a GNAC women’s golfer last week. Gridley lowered her season scoring average to 74.8 strokes per round, ranking her second in the conference.

Also Nominated: Hannah Adams, MSUB; Meera Minhas, SFU; Emma Worgum, WWU.


Player of the Week – Matteo Polla, Western Washington

First-career player of the week.

Polla was the conference’s top finisher at the Tim Tierney Pioneer shootout, carding a three-round score of 2-under-par 214 (74-71-69). That was good for a tie for 16th place among the field of 98 competitors, as he steadily improved across the three rounds to climb the leaderboard. Polla’s 3-under-par 69 in his final round was his lowest of the season, and he picked up two of his four rounds at par or better in 2023-24 at the event.

Also Nominated: Grayson Giboney, NNU; Michael Crisologo, SFU.