A Day Later, Wolves Advance In GNAC Championships
Western Oregon starter Haley Fabian struck out five in the return to play on Friday as she earned her 13th win of the season. Photo by Paul Dunn.
Western Oregon starter Haley Fabian struck out five in the return to play on Friday as she earned her 13th win of the season. Photo by Paul Dunn.

Friday, May 5, 2017

LACEY, Wash. – If Central Washington is going to win its second straight GNAC Softball Championships, it will once again have to do it coming through the loser’s bracket.

Western Oregon scored three runs in the return to play on Friday, allowing the Wolves a 4-3 win over the Wildcats in game two of the championships at the SMU Softball Field.

While the time of the game was officially 1 hour, 51 minutes, it was really about 26 hours from start to finish. Started on Thursday afternoon, the game endured a lightning delay and a washout due to severe thunderstorms. Play resumed on Friday at 2:55 p.m.

Kelsie Gardner and Ryanne Huffman each had two hits for the Wolves, with Huffman accounting for the winning run in the sixth inning. Celine Fowler, Kailyn Campbell, Julia Reuble and Savannah Egbert had two hits apiece for the Wildcats.

Wolves’ pitcher Haley Fabian was masterful in the two-day affair. She improved to 13-8 on the year by allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out five in six innings of work. Sammi Cadwallader came on in the seventh for her second save of the season. Kiana Wood took just her third loss of the season, allowing three runs, one earned, on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings.

Western Oregon (28-22) will play Western Washington in the first game on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. The winner of that game will advance to the championship final game on Sunday at noon. Central Washington (33-14) will play Saint Martin’s in an elimination game on Saturday that is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m.

Western Oregon wasted little time putting a run on the board when play started on Thursday. Gardner led off with with a double to center field and she eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Tess Kuehl. Central Washington left a leadoff single on first before lightning halted the game for 1 hour, 30 minutes.

When play resumed in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats put two on the board with the long ball. Egbert got aboard with a walk before Kayla Ellis lifted the first home run of the championships to left field for the 2-1 CWU lead.

The two teams played to the middle of the third inning before severe thunderstorms put an end to Thursday’s play for good. Torrential rain, lightning, steady 40 to 50 mile per hour winds and hail sent the teams to their hotel rooms until Friday afternoon.

The Wildcats (33-14) tried to cobble together a two-out rally when play resumed on Friday afternoon in the bottom of the third. Reuble singled to right and advanced to second when Taylor Ferleman drew a walk, but a flyout left both players on.

Western Oregon then took advantage of a pair of CWU errors to take the lead in the fourth. Kuehl reached on the first error to lead off the frame, advanced to second on a walk and scored on Ashlee Lynch’s single through the left side. A fielder’s choice and a hit batter loaded the bases for Hailee Watilo, who hit a ball to the left side that was misplayed and allowed Lynch to score to give WOU the 3-2 lead.

The Wolves added an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Huffman led off with a single, advanced to second and third on a wild pitches and scored on Lynch’s sacrifice fly.

Central Washington found new life in the bottom of the seventh to keepn their hopes alive. Campbell led off by launching a home run to left field and Reuble got on with a one-out single to right. That was all of the offense that the Wildcats could muster with the game ending when pinch-runner Paige Liikala was cuaght stealing.

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