Vikings Advance To Regional Championship Game
WWU senior Taylor Khorrami scaled the wall in center field to bring back a would-be, game-tying home run in the fifth inning of the Vikings' 3-0, elimination-game win over Azusa Pacific on Friday.
WWU senior Taylor Khorrami scaled the wall in center field to bring back a would-be, game-tying home run in the fifth inning of the Vikings' 3-0, elimination-game win over Azusa Pacific on Friday.

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

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Prevailing on its home turf Friday at Viking Field, Western Washington split a pair of games to advance to the NCAA Softball West Region Championship scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

The Vikings (44-8) will take on Cal State San Marcos at noon (PT) on Saturday and must beat the Cougars twice to earn their first-ever berth into the NCAA super regional championships.

Game 1 – Cal State San Marcos 4, Western Washington 3

The Vikings nearly completed a come-from-behind victory, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh and leaving the tying run in scoring position as the Cougars survived to punch their ticket to Saturday’s championship game.

WWU starter Joie Baker shook off a pair of walks in the top of the first, stranding both runners on base to keep the score at 0-0 early on.

GNAC Championships MVP Maleah Andrews led off the bottom of the first with a base hit, before coming around to score on a wild pitch and a throwing error by the Cougars. San Marcos got the run back in the top of the second, when Mackenzie Kestler led off with a double and came home on a sacrifice fly by Makenzie Guiliano.

The Vikings threatened again in the bottom of the second, thanks to a double by Andrews that put a pair of runners in scoring position. San Marcos starter Jayline Sloss dealt with the pressure well, striking out the next two Vikings to keep the score tied at 1-1. Jillian Albayati broke the tie in the top of the third with her sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to left to give the Cougars a 2-1 advantage.

The difference came in the sixth inning, when Czar Fleischman lifted a sacrifice fly to right and Guiliano punched a two-out, RBI-single to center field that made the score 4-1.

WWU’s seventh-inning rally came with two outs, as Day 1 hero Kanilehua Pitoy roped a double to left and Riley Anderson drove her in with a single to center. Amaya Davis got the Vikings within one with an RBI-double, but Sloss finished the complete game by retiring the final hitter she faced.

Sloss earned her 19th win of the season, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. The Cougars improved to 37-20 with the win and need to beat the Vikings just once on Saturday to reach the NCAA super regionals.

Game 2 – Western Washington 3, Azusa Pacific 0

WWU rode another stellar performance by Alli Kimball to a must-win victory, keeping their season alive and winning their program-record 44th game of the season. Kimball allowed just four hits in her efficient five innings of work, needing just 49 pitches to set the Vikings up for victory. Kaiana Kong took care of the rest, picking up her eighth save of the season with two perfect innings to complete the shutout.

Emma Andrewjeski-Ramirez got the Vikings on the board in the bottom of the first, driving a two-out, RBI-double to the wall in right field to bring home GNAC Player of the Year Hailey Rath. WWU struck again in the bottom of the fourth when Andrewjeski-Ramirez led off with a single and Pitoy plated her with a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-0.

Senior Taylor Khorrami saved the day for the Vikings in the top of the fifth inning, scaling the wall in center field to take away a two-run home run from Ally Chin. Andrewjeski-Ramirez then delivered her program-record 16th home run of the season in the bottom of the frame, capping the scoring to make the score 3-0.

The Cougars were no match for Kong over the final two frames, as five ground outs and a strikeout sealed the victory for WWU.

APU starter Katie Korstrom allowed two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3 1/3 innings of work, before Sydnie Sahhar allowed one run on two hits with one strikeout and one walk across the final 2 2/3 frames. APU bowed out of the regional playoffs with a final 2024 record of 31-21.

OF NOTE: Kimball became the 12th pitcher in GNAC history to amass a scoreless inning streak of at least 25, and the first to do so since the 2013 season. She is the second Viking to achieve that feat since the conference was founded in 2002, joining Stephanie Fox who authored 29 consecutive shutout innings from March 30-April 12, 2012.

VIKINGS’ PATH TO REGIONALS: Western Washington claimed hosting rights for the regional championships by winning 42 games in the regular season, and locking up the GNAC’s automatic berth into the tournament by winning the GNAC Championships on May 4 at Viking Field. The Vikings are making their sixth all-time regional appearance and are hosting for the first time. It is their first appearance since 2021, and WWU is now 2-11 all-time in regional games.