Williams Is The Hero As Nighthawks Advance To Final
Anna Williams went 3 for 5 and had all four Northwest Nazarene RBIs. Photo by Tyler Kanoa.
Anna Williams went 3 for 5 and had all four Northwest Nazarene RBIs. Photo by Tyler Kanoa.

Friday, May 4, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Anna Williams wasn’t the hero once. She was the hero twice.

The GNAC Newcomer of the Year gave Northwest Nazarene the lead with a two-run homer in the fifth and then the provided game-winning two-run double in the top of the eighth to send the No. 1 seeded Nighthawks to the GNAC Softball Championships final with a 4-2, eight-inning win over No. 3 seed Simon Fraser Friday at Porter Park.

Williams finished the game hitting 3 for 5 and accounted for all four of the Nighthawks’ RBIs. Her offense puts Northwest Nazarene (30-21) into its first GNAC Championships final, which takes place on Saturday at noon.

With the loss, Simon Fraser (20-18) will face the winner of Friday’s second game between No. 2 seed Central Washington and No. 4 seed Western Oregon in an elimination game expected to start at 7:30 p.m.

Pitcher Rylee Thomas improved to 6-5 on the season for the Nighthawks in a great starting performance, allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts in seven innings. Rae Young entered in the eighth to pick up her first save of the year.

The loss ended a string of four straight complete-game wins for Simon Fraser pitcher Alia Stachoski, who dropped to 14-11 on the season. She allowed four runs on 11 hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Three different SFU players had the team’s three hits.

Simon Fraser scored the game’s first run in the second inning. Hailey Gearey reached on a one-out single, advanced to second on Dallas Tilley’s walk and scored on Chelsea Hotner’s long single to center field.

Northwest Nazarene threatened with runners on first and second with one out in the top of the first, but Stachoski struck out the next two batters to retire the side. After stranding a runner at third in the third inning, the Nighthawks appeared to have scored its opening run in the fourth. Shelbie Martinez walked with one out and advanced to third on a double by Abigail Otto. Olson then laid down a bunt, but the Clan successfully fielded the squeeze play to tag Martinez out at the plate.

The Nighthawks finally broke through in the top of the fifth. Lily Paschal led off with a single to set the table for Williams, who clubbed her homer over the left field fence to put the Nighthawks ahead 2-1.

After Hotner’s one-out single in the second, Thomas proceeded to retire the next 12 batters. Alex Ogg ended the run with a one-out single to center field. She was erased, however, when she was caught stealing to end the frame.

Simon Fraser made the most of a strange bottom of the seventh inning. Taylor Lundrigan drew a lead-off walk and was called safe at second on Gearey’s fielder’s choice. Tilley sacrificed runners to second and third and Hotner drew a walk to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Hannah Boulanger appeared to have frozen her teammates with an infield fly, but the Nighthawks took too much time returning the ball to the pitching circle and Lundrigan stole home to send the game to extra innings.

When her team needed it most, Williams was able to deliver again. Otto singled to lead off the top of the eighth and Olson reached on a fielder’s choice. Stachoski coaxed the next two batters into ground outs before Williams rocketed a double down the right field line, scoring two to put the Nighthawks ahead for good.