Nampa Regional: Friday Recap
NNU's Jami Obringer embraces catcher Kellcie Adams on a day where the Nighthawks advanced to the NCAA West Region Championships title game.
NNU's Jami Obringer embraces catcher Kellcie Adams on a day where the Nighthawks advanced to the NCAA West Region Championships title game.

Friday, May 10, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

NAMPA, Idaho – Staying alive and advancing to Saturday’s NCAA Softball West Region Championships title game, host Northwest Nazarene got the job done on Friday at Halle Field.

The Nighthawks fell to Cal State Dominguez Hills 2-0 in the opening game of the day, while Saint Martin’s stormed past Concordia Irvine 8-2 in Friday’s first elimination game to set up a nightcap against their conference opponent. NNU prevailed 7-3 in the final game of the day, ending the Saints’ season and setting the stage for Saturday’s finale.

Game 1 – Cal State Dominguez Hills 2, Northwest Nazarene 0

The Nighthawk offense stalled against Toro right-hander Mariah Ramirez, who authored her third shutout of the season. The Nighthawks managed just three hits and left three runners on base, as they could not find a breakthrough to back another stellar effort by GNAC Pitcher of the Year Sidney Booth.

Booth allowed two runs on seven hits, while striking out 11 batters in the complete-game effort. The 11 strikeouts matched her playoff career high, which she reached on three previous occasions. It was the 20th time in her career that the senior reached double figures in strikeouts.

Ramirez meanwhile limited the Nighthawks to just three hits, while striking out 10 in her complete-game effort. The Toros (37-19) advanced to the championship game on Saturday, where they will have to be defeated twice by NNU to be denied a trip to the NCAA super regionals.

Booth stranded a runner at third in the top of the first inning, striking out three hitters to shake off a leadoff single by Alexis Aguado.

Ramirez gained momentum in the second inning, striking out the side as she retired the first six Nighthawks that she faced in the game. A bunt single by Jami Obringer gave the Nighthawks their first baserunner in the bottom of the third, but the Toro right-hander worked around the trouble and put up another zero.

Clarissa Moreno led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, but the Nighthawks left another runner in scoring position as Ramirez retired NNU’s 3-4-5 hitters in succession. The breakthrough finally came in the top of the fifth, when Kianna Abellera led off the frame with her third home run of the season over the fence in center.

The Toros had another prime scoring chance in the top of the seventh, when singles by Maiya Lopez and Samantha Kwiatowski put runners on the corners with one out. Jay Ross then punched an RBI-single into the gap in right-center, giving Ramirez an insurance run with three outs left to record.

Game 2: Saint Martin’s 8, Concordia Irvine 2

The Saints shocked the Eagles with a seven-run first inning, which proved to be more than enough offense to back Chloe Leverington in the elimination game. The junior right hander allowed two runs (one earned) on 10 hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks in the complete-game effort to keep her team alive.

The Eagles capitalized on a fielding miscue in the top of the first inning, and Missy Nemeth came through with an RBI-single to make the score 1-0.

Ashley Goodale, Heather Ebner and Britney Patrick led off the big first inning with singles, before Shelby Lawson drew a bases-loaded walk, Olivia Matlock cleared the bases with a three-run double and Vanessa Smoke made it 5-1 with an RBI-double all before the first out was recorded. Two-out, RBI-doubles by Destiny Conerly and Goodale capped the seven-run rally and provided Leverington with a healthy lead early.

The Saints threatened again in the second, loading the bases with no outs. Cortney Koelmans struck out the next two hitters however, and avoided trouble with an inning-ending pop up to retire the side. Koelmans was the most effective of three Concordia pitchers used, limiting the Saints to one run in her five innings of work.

The Eagles scraped across one more run in the third inning, as Kaia Nisby came around after a leadoff double, but was all Concordia could manage against Leverington. The Eagles’ season ended with a record of 39-14 overall.

Game 3 – Northwest Nazarene 7, Saint Martin’s 3

In a rematch of Thursday’s regional opener, the Nighthawks got the job done again in a game that was mostly closer than the final scoreline indicated.

The Nighthawks got off to an early lead thanks to RBIs from Moreno and Emma Bumatay in the bottom of the first inning, spotting senior right-hander Gina Skinner with a 2-0 advantage. The Saints kept their season alive temporarily in the top of the fifth, as they were finally able to push across a pair of runs after four straight zeroes to start the game.

Matlock brought in the first run with a single, and Smoke drove in the second to even the score at 2-2. The tie didn’t last long however, as Emma Mulligan’s sixth home run of the year was a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth to restore NNU’s two-run advantage.

The Nighthawks built off the momentum in the next inning, pushing three more runs across to put the game out of reach. Mia Traylor picked up her second save of the season with two effective innings of relief to finish the game, limiting the Saints to one run on one hit with a pair of strikeouts and a walk to close the game.

Skinner earned her 14th victory of the season, striking out three and walking one while allowing two runs on seven hits across her five innings of work. Bridget Johnson took the loss for the Saints, giving up four runs on four hits with a strikeout and no walks.

SMU finished its season 27-22 while the Nighthawks improved to 41-11 with Friday’s win.

NEXT UP: The Nighthawks will square off against the Toros at 1:30 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, needing to win two games to keep their season alive and reach their first-ever NCAA super regional.

NIGHTHAWKS’ PATH TO THE REGIONALS: Northwest Nazarene advanced to its fourth consecutive regional championship after matching its program record with 39 wins during the 2024 regular season. Ranked atop the region and in the top-25 nationally all season long, NNU earned its first-ever hosting rights with the No. 2 overall seed. The Nighthawks, who reached the regional championship title game in 2023, are in the NCAA tournament for the fifth time overall.

SAINT’S PATH TO THE REGIONALS: Saint Martin’s muscled its way into the regional by winning 26 games during the regular season, including one at last week’s GNAC Championships. It is the Saints’ first regional appearance since 2015 and second since joining the GNAC in 2002.