Vikings Named Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week
Anna Kasner (right) threw a GNAC Championships record 13 strikeouts in her second outing in the GNAC Softball Championships.
Anna Kasner (right) threw a GNAC Championships record 13 strikeouts in her second outing in the GNAC Softball Championships.

Monday, May 8, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Washington won its first GNAC Softball Championships title over the weekend, winning all three of its games to earn recognition as the Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

The Vikings opened the tournament with a 5-4 win over Saint Martin’s followed by two wins against Western Oregon to claim the tournament title and extend the team’s winning streak to 11 games. Western Washington won both of the first two games of the GNAC Championships in extra-innings.

Freshman Anna Kasner earned the win in the circle in all three games for Western Washington, throwing 19.2 innings without any earned runs allowed to earn selection as the GNAC Championships Most Valuable Player.

By winning the tournament, Western Washington earned the GNAC’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA West Regional. It is the Vikings’ first tournament appearance since 2011.

“This is right where we want to be going into the postseason,” head coach Amy Suiter said of the 11-game winning streak and GNAC Championships title. “I couldn’t be more proud of the kids. They’re clicking on all sides. The offense and defense is hot, and the pitching is amazing.”

The Vikings opened the tournament with a 10-inning win against host Saint Martin’s, 5-4, to advance in the winner’s bracket. The international tiebreaker rule was put into effect in the 10th inning and Kasner forced two infield pop outs to prevent a run in the top of the inning. In the bottom half, Cylie Richards put down a sacrifice bunt followed by a game-winning sacrifice fly to leftfield by McKenna Mathis.

Shearyna Labasan threw 5.1 innings for the Vikings and then went 4 for 5 with a run and RBI as the leadoff hitter. Kasner threw 4.2 shutout innings in relief to allow WWU to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and eventually win the game.

Kasner was locked into a pitching duel with Western Oregon’s Haley Fabian in the second day of the tournament. Both players gave up just one run each in the first seven innings, while Kasner threw a GNAC Championships record 13 strikeouts.

Kali Patterson broke up the pitching duel with her only hit of the game, hitting a double into the alley in left-center field to drive in the game-winning run in Western Washington’s second consecutive walk-off victory, 2-1.

Western Oregon made its way through the consolation bracket to face Western Washington in the championship game, but Kasner was just as good facing the same team for the second time in as many days. The freshman threw a two-hit shutout for her 15th win of the season.

“Anna threw yesterday to the exact same team,” Suiter said after winning the championship. “They knew what they were getting, and we knew they would make adjustments. She pitched a lot more to contact today and the defense was everywhere they needed to be.”

The Vikings got all the offense they needed in the second inning, scoring five runs without an extra-base hit. Western Washington batted around and Makinlee Sellevold got the big hit with a two-RBI double that represented the last time either team scored.

Western Washington will next play in the half of the NCAA West Regional that is hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay. The overall No. 1-seeded Otters will be the Vikings’ first opponent with Sonoma State and Dixie State being the other two teams bidding for a spot in the super regional. 

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