Saints Pour It On Late, Advance To GNAC Finals
Destiny Conerly (center) walked and scored a run during Saint Martin's eight-run seventh inning that iced a 10-0 victory over CWU. Photo by Jacob Thompson.
Destiny Conerly (center) walked and scored a run during Saint Martin's eight-run seventh inning that iced a 10-0 victory over CWU. Photo by Jacob Thompson.

Friday, May 6, 2022

ELLENSBURG, Wash. – A 33-minute rain delay in the seventh inning could have killed Saint Martin’s momentum. Instead, the Saints simply opened the floodgates.

Saint Martin’s scored eight runs in the final inning to turn what had been a pitcher’s duel into a 10-0 rout over Central Washington at the GNAC Championships in Ellensburg. Britney Patrick broke up a perfect game bid with a fifth-inning single and capped the eight-run inning with a two-run triple while pitchers Tia Ridings and Chloe Leverington combined to hold CWU to four hits without walking a batter.

The Saints are now one win away from their first GNAC Championships title since 2013. After knocking off No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, Central Washington will have to face the Nighthawks again at 4 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game will meet the Saints in the finals on Saturday.

For six innings, the story was the matchup between the SMU tag-team of Ridings and Leverington and Wildcats ace Rhaney Harris. A day after shutting down NNU, Harris was perfect through four innings against the SMU line-up as the host Wildcats sought their second consecutive upset.

Patrick singled through the left side leading off the fifth inning to erase any no-hitter aspirations and Shay Lopes followed with a one-out single up the middle. Olivia Schmidt handled a 1-2 pitch for a triple into the right-center field gap to clear the bases as SMU edged ahead with a 2-0 lead. Harris would strand Schmidt at third, however, and retire the Saints in order in the sixth for her fifth 1-2-3 inning of the ballgame. It seemed as though Central Washington would remain a bloop and a blast away from tying the game with a late-inning rally.

All of that changed in the seventh inning. Kekai Schultz led off with a single, and as the rain started to fall harder, Harris had trouble controlling a newly wet ball. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases and a wild pitch scored a run, prompting the umpires to send both teams to the dugout.

Under dry conditions 33 minutes later, however, the Saints did nothing but mash. A walk reloaded the bases before Saint Martin’s ripped off four consecutive RBI singles from Megan Convery, Vanessa Smoke, Kylee Vanderbout and Malia Pinder.

With the score 8-0, Central Washington went to the bullpen, bringing on freshman Makayla Miller. But Patrick ripped the very first pitch from the reliever down the right-field line for a triple, scoring Vanderbout and Pinder and stretching the lead to double digits.

The Saint Martin’s pitching, meanwhile, cruised for most of the game. Ridings threw four innings, giving up three hits and striking out one, improving to 9-8 on the season. Leverington notched a three-inning save, giving up a solitary two-out single in the fifth inning and striking out three. Sophomore Taylor Kai had two of CWU’s four hits.