Softball Champion Nighthawks Claim Team Of The Week
Northwest Nazarene secured its second straight GNAC Championships title by sweeping its games in Burnaby, B.C. last week. | Photo by Ethan Cairns
Northwest Nazarene secured its second straight GNAC Championships title by sweeping its games in Burnaby, B.C. last week. | Photo by Ethan Cairns

Monday, May 8, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – Northwest Nazarene ruled the roost at the GNAC Softball Championships for the second year in a row to win the program’s third conference title and earn GNAC Team of the Week honors.

The Nighthawks went undefeated in the double-elimination tournament. The Nighthawks took a 2-1 win against Western Oregon to open on Thursday, a 12-0 five-inning decision against Saint Martin’s on Friday and a 3-2 victory over Western Washington on Saturday to secure the title.

Junior Sidney Booth was named the GNAC Softball Championships MVP after leading the NNU’s efforts in the circle with a 0.88 ERA in the tournament. Her efforts, along with senior Tori Hensley’s three innings in Friday’s win, gave the Nighthawks an impressive 0.74 ERA while the offense ranked second in the tournament with a .325 batting average.

Booth and Hensley combined in the circle to stifle Western Oregon’s offense on Friday. Hensley earned the win after shifting from the designated player slot into the circle. She shut down the Wolves to close out the game while allowing no hits and one walk and striking out one. After Western Oregon got the board in the fourth inning, reigning GNAC Softball Player of the Year Maia McNicoll took control at the plate. MicNicoll hit a solo home run in the sixth to tie the game before driving in the winning run with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.

Booth dominated in the circle on Friday, throwing just the second no-hitter in GNAC Championships history  and her second of the season to defeat the Saints. She finished the game with four strikeouts and allowed just three baserunners, two on walks and one hit-by-pitch, in five innings while the offense slugged its way to the abbreviated victory.

The game got started with a bang as sophomore Clarissa Moreno hit a first-pitch home run to give NNU an immediate 1-0 lead. That lead grew to 3-0 by the end of the inning as junior Abigail Gagnon smoked a two-RBI double to knock out the Saints’ starting pitcher.

Sophomore Charlotte Forniss put an exclamation point on the win for Northwest Nazarene, blasting a grand slam in the fifth to lead the team with four RBIs and two runs scored while going 3 for 4 at the plate. Hensley was another top contributor in the batter’s box, going 2 for three with two RBIs and a run scored.

In the championship decider, Booth helped her own cause at the plate, driving in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Western Washington wouldn’t go quietly, however, and tied the game in the second. From there the defense ruled until freshman Emma Bumatay stepped up to the plate and sent a two-run rocket over the fence and off the scoreboard to give the Nighthawks a lead that they wouldn’t surrender.

With the GNAC Championships win, Northwest Nazarene will turn its focus to the NCAA Division II Softball Championships that begin on Thursday. The Nighthawks enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 seed Cal State San Bernardino in the first-round West Regional pod in Irvine, California.

Copyright ©2024 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved.