Wolves, Saints Break Out The Bats In Winning Week
Western Oregon's Destiny Kuehl was named the GNAC Softball Player of the Week after hitting .688 in the Wolves' six games.
Western Oregon's Destiny Kuehl was named the GNAC Softball Player of the Week after hitting .688 in the Wolves' six games.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Destiny Kuehl, Western Oregon
IF • 5-8 •  Junior • Portland, Ore.

Kuehl batted .688 in the Wolves’ six games in Texas, going 11 for 16 with six runs, seven RBI, three doubles, a triple and two home runs. She went 3 for 3 with a homer in the Wolves’ 2-0 opening win over Newman on Friday. On Sunday against Linoln (Mo.), Kuehl went 3 for 3 with a triple and three RBI in the 12-1 opening victory and hit a three-run homer in the second game.

Also Nominated: Taylor Bussey (Concordia), Kim Nelson (Saint Martin’s), Nicole Ratel (Simon Fraser).

Alyson Boytz, Western Oregon
RHP • 5-9 • Senior • Noti, Ore.

Boytz went 2-0 in three appearances for the Wolves on their six-game Texas trip. In 16 innings, she allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits with three walks and 15 strikeouts. Boytz threw a complete-game one-hitter and had six strikeouts in WOU’s 2-0 win over Newman on Friday and allowed one hit in 3.2 innings in Sunday’s 10-1, five-inning win over Lincoln (Mo.). Boytz also had eight strikeouts in a no decision against No. 22 West Texas A&M.

Also Nominated: Karlie Merritt (Concordia), Loryn Williams (Saint Martin’s).

A SOLID STATESIDE RETURN: A long return flight from Hawaii did little to slow down Saint Martin’s as the Saints went 4-1 as one of three GNAC teams competing at the Northwest Cup in Portland.

After opening the tournament with a 3-2, nine-inning loss to Concordia-Irvine on Friday, Saint Martin’s went on to win their next four games. The Saints took an 11-0, five-inning win from Northwest Christian to open Saturday, braced by a three-hit shutout by Lindsey Miller, and a 4-1 win over NAIA powerhouse Oregon Tech.

The Saints opened Sunday with a record-setting 17-7 win over British Columbia. Saint Martin’s set a GNAC record with 24 hits in the game, bettering the 23 hits Humboldt State had against Sonoma State in 2006. Kim Nelson tied the GNAC record with five hits in the game, going 5 for 6 with three runs, six RBI, a double and a home run. Nelson joined Central Washington’s Sammy Morris with five-hit games this season. The pair is two of five in GNAC history to accomplish the feat.

The Saints closed their tournament run with an 8-3 win over Eastern Oregon.

Saint Martin’s enters the final weekend of February with a GNAC best 13-2 record and lead the league with a .364 batting average. The Saints are second in the GNAC in pitching with a 2.27 earned run average. Nelson leads the Saints’ hitter with a .451 average that includes 23 hits, 11 runs, 19 RBI and five home runs. Loryn Williams leads the pitching staff with a 4-1 record and 1.51 earned run average, having allowed 13 runs in 46.1 innings.

PACK MENTALITY: Western Oregon fared well on their longest road trip of the season, going 4-2 as they competed at the West Texas A&M Lady Buff Invitational in Canyon, Texas.

The Wolves opened their tournament run with a sweep, scoring a pair of 2-0 and 4-3 wins over Newman. The Jets came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie their game 3-3 in the sixth inning of game two before Zoe Clark’s sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Kelsey Gardner for the winning run. Gardner, Ryane Huffman and Brandy Knowles all had two hits for the Wolves.

The Wolves two losses came to host West Texas A&M, who emerged this week as the No. 1 team in the NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll. The Wolves had a 4-0 lead in the second game before the Lady Buffs scored seven runs over the final three innings for the come-from-behind victory.

Western Oregon closed with a pair of five-inning victories, 12-1 and 10-1, over Lincoln (Mo.). Huffman and Destiny Kuehl led the Wolves in the opener by going 3 for 3. Huffman had two RBI while Kuehl had a triple. Gardner went 3 for 4 in the nightcap.

A pair of solid performances over the entire tournament allowed the Wolves to sweep the GNAC Player of the Week awards. Kuehl was named the GNAC Player of the Week after she batted .688 in the six games, going 11 for 16 with six runs, seven RBI and two home runs. Kuehl leads the GNAC with a .579 batting average.

Alyson Boytz was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week after she went 2-0 in three appearances, allowing four runs, two earned, on just six hits. Her ledger included a complete-game one-hitter against Newman on Friday.

SHOWING WELL AT HOOD VIEW: Host Concordia and Simon Fraser both put together solid performances against some of the better teams in the NAIA at the Northwest Cup.

Concordia, who was a NAIA member until this year, went 5-1 in the Northwest Cup. The Cavaliers opened their tournament run on Friday with an 8-0, five-inning win over Northwest Christian and a 5-2 win over British Columbia. The Cavaliers took their one loss to Oregon Tech on Saturday, 5-4, before closing with three straight wins over Eastern Oregon (5-3, British Columbia (10-4) and College of Idaho (12-7).
Taylor Bussey led Concordia at the plate as she hit .500 in the six games wih four runs and five RBI. Rylleigh Zbaraschuk and Taylor Copher hit .474 in the six games. Bussey had a GNAC season high seven RBI and two home runs against British Columbia.

Simon Fraser won three of their four games in the tournament. The Clan swept their games on Saturday, beating Eastern Oregon 10-2 and College of Idaho 9-1. After losing their opener on Sunday to Eastern Oregon, 10-8 in nine innings, the Clan finished with an 8-7 win over Oregon Tech.

Taylor Lundrigan led Simon Fraser at the plate with a .571 average, including eight hits, eight runs and nine RBI.

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE OPENS: The GNAC season opens this weekend as Western Washington and Simon Fraser square off in a four-game border battle. The teams will play in Bellingham on Saturday and at Burnaby on Saturday. The GNAC’s other six teams will commence league play the following weekend.

WESTERN WASHINGTON PICKED TO WIN IN PRESEASON POLL: A year after just missing a conference tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, coaches have picked Western Washington to reach the pinnacle in the 2016 Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Preseason Softball Coaches Poll.

The Vikings received five of eight first place votes, earning 61 points in the poll. Western Washington is clear and away the favorite over defending GNAC regular season champion Saint Martin’s, picked to finish second with 47 points. Western Oregon was picked third, close behind Saint Martin’s with 43 points.

Montana State Billings, who surprised the conference with a spirited run to the GNAC Tournament championship and their first trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament since 2012, was picked to finish fourth with 37 points. Central Washington finished one point behind, picked fifth with 36 points. The Wildcats were followed by GNAC newcomer Concordia (33 pts.), Simon Fraser (17 pts.) and Northwest Nazarene (14 pts.).