It's Down To The Final Weekend For Vikings, Nighthawks
With her walk-off homer against Western Oregon on Friday, Western Washington's Emily Benson tied the GNAC career record for home runs.
With her walk-off homer against Western Oregon on Friday, Western Washington's Emily Benson tied the GNAC career record for home runs.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ONE TEAM IS IN: With one week left in the softball regular season, the only certainty is that Central Washington will be making the trip to Billings.

The Wildcats secured their sixth trip to the GNAC Championships, and their fourth consecutive appearance, thanks to taking three of four games from Saint Martin’s in a home-and-home series last weekend. Central Washington collected 6-1 and 5-3 victories on Friday and opened Saturday in Ellensburg with an 11-0, five-inning win.

Central benefited from solid pitching to propel the victories. Sophomore Lexie Strasser was named the GNAC Softball Pitcher of the Week after she won two of the three games for the Wildcats. She allowed one run on 10 hits with eight strikeouts in 11.2 innings. In Friday’s opener, Strasser allowed one run on seven hits and struck out two for the win. She threw four innings in Saturday’s 11-0 five-inning shutout, striking out two to improve to 14-8 on the season.

On offense, junior Savannah Egbert continues to get the job. She went .462 in the Saint Martin’s series, going 6 for 13 with three runs and an RBI. Junior Julia Reuble batted .417 in the four games, going 5 for 12 with three runs and seven RBI. Five of those RBI came on a pair of home runs in Saturday’s opener.

Central Washington aims to secure its fourth consecutive regular-season championship on the road, playing Concordia in Forest Grove, Oregon on Saturday and at Western Oregon on Sunday.

OREGON TEAMS CLOSE TO CLINCHING: Both Concordia and Western Oregon are both poised to claim their spots in the GNAC Championships.

The Cavaliers sit in second place in the standings at 16-8 after sweeping all four road games last weekend, beating Simon Fraser 8-4 and 12-3 on Friday and knocking off Western Washington by a pair of 4-2 scores on Saturday.

Concordia excelled behind the offense of junior Hannah Self, who was named the GNAC Softball Player of the Week after she hit .533 in the four games. Self went 8 for 15 with six runs, nine RBI, three doubles and three home runs. All but two of her hits were extra-base hits. She had a three-run homer in both of Friday’s games at Simon Fraser and hit a solo homer in Saturday’s second game at Western Washington.

If Concordia secures a spot, it will be the team’s first appearance at the GNAC Championships since 2016.

Western Oregon helped its postseason cause by taking three of four games last weekend. The Wolves split their games with Western Washington on Friday, winning the opener 10-1 in five innings and dropping the second game 1-0. Western then completed a sweep of Simon Fraser on Saturday by scores of 2-1 and 3-2.

This GNAC Championships would be the sixth consecutive for Western Oregon, the most of any conference team.

Concordia will host Central Washington on Saturday in Forest Grove, Oregon, while Western Oregon will host Saint Martin’s. The opponents will flip for Sunday, with Concordia playing on its home field in Portland.

THE RACE FOR FOURTH: While both Concordia and Western Oregon could slip into the No. 4 position, the real race for that spot will come down to a four-game series between Western Washington and Northwest Nazarene. The two teams closed their regular seasons in Nampa on Friday and Saturday.

The Vikings, who had been in second place entering last weekend, slipped into a tie for fourth after dropping three of four weekend games. The only win of the set was a 1-0 victory over Western Oregon in Friday’s second game on a game-winning home run by senior Emily Benson (see more below).

Northwest Nazarene, meanwhile, has won four of its last six games to pull into the tie with Western Washington and stay in the playoff conversation. The Nighthawks pulled off an impressive sweep of Montana State Billings last weekend, ending each of the four games in five innings on the eight-run rule. Northwest Nazarene hit .413 in the series and drew 19 walks.

BENSON TIES HOME RUN RECORD: In hitting her walk-off home run on Friday, Emily Benson not only won the game for Western Washington, but also etched her name into the GNAC record books.

The homer was the 45th of Benson’s career, tying her on the GNAC all-time list with Western Oregon’s Jessica Hallmark, who smashed 45 homers from 2008 to 2011. The home run was Benson’s 14th of the season, which leads the GNAC and ranks ninth in Division II. As a team, Western Washington has hit 35 home runs on the season, which is the fourth-most in program history.

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIPS UPCOMING: The 2019 GNAC Softball Championships will take place next Thursday through Saturday, May 2-4, at Avitus Group Stadium in Billings, Montana. Montana State Billings will host the tournament for the first time, which features the top-four teams in the conference’s regular season standings. The double-elimination tournament will conclude with the championship game on Saturday at noon.

Tickets for the GNAC Softball Championships can be purchased now at

Hannah Self, Concordia
OF, 5-11, Jr., Tigard, Ore.

Self led the Cavaliers to a sweep at both Simon Fraser and Western Washington with a .533 batting average, going 8 for 15 with six runs, nine RBI, three doubles and three home runs. Of her eight hits, six were extra-base hits. Self went 3 for 4 with a double and a three-run homer in Friday’s opener at Simon Fraser. She went 3 for 5 in the nightcap a double and another three-run shot. Self went 1 for 2 with an RBI double that accounted for the winning run in Saturday’s opener at Western Washington and hit a solo home run in the second game.

Also Nominated: Julia Reuble (Central Washington), Cassidy Fifield (Northwest Nazarene), Sabrina Hicks (Saint Martin’s), Sydney Bowers (Western Oregon), Emily Benson (Western Washington).

Lexie Strasser, Central Washington
RHP, 6-2, So., Chehalis, Wash.

Strasser earned two of the Wildcats’ three wins in the circle last week against Saint Martin’s, compiling a 0.60 earned run average in 11.2 innings. She allowed one run on 10 hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. Strasser won Friday’s opener at Saint Martin’s as she allowed one run on seven hits and struck out four. At home on Saturday, Strasser won the 11-0, five-inning first game by allowing just two hits and striking out two in four innings.

Also Nominated: Sally Bowles (Concordia), Rylee Thomas (Northwest Nazarene), Lauren Maley (Saint Martin’s), Haley Fabian (Western Oregon), Shearyna Labasan (Western Washington).