Shay's Shots Lead Saints To GNAC Championships Win
Saint Martin's scored eight runs in the first three innings, include five runs in the sixth inning. Photo by Ethan Cairns.
Saint Martin's scored eight runs in the first three innings, include five runs in the sixth inning. Photo by Ethan Cairns.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

BURNABY, B.C. – It was expected to be a duel between two of the top pitchers in the conference. It instead turned into an offensive slugfest.

Saint Martin’s and Western Washington combined for 22 hits but it was the No. 2 seeded Saints scoring eight runs over the final three innings to claim a 12-4, six-inning win over the No. 3 seeded Vikings in the first game of the GNAC Softball Championships at Beedie Field on the campus of Simon Fraser University.

Sophomore Shay Lopes provided for much of that offense, going 3 for 4 in the game and setting a GNAC Championships record with six RBIs. Lopes delivered a pair of RBI singles in the second and third innings and ended the game with a three-run home run in the sixth. Junior Destiny Conerly also went 3 for 3 with three RBIs.

Hailey Rath, the GNAC Freshman of the Year, led Western Washington by going 3 for 3 with a pair of solo home runs in the first and sixth innings. Senior Brooke Fesenbek went 2 for 3.

With the win, Saint Martin’s (29-16) advances to play on Friday at noon between the winner of Thursday’s second game between Northwest Nazarene and Western Oregon. Western Washington (24-22) will play the loser of that game in an elimination contest this afternoon at 5 p.m.

The Vikings came out the gate making contact in the top of the first with Rath opened scoring with a two-out solo homer over the right-center field fence. Hits by Fesenbek and Kanilehua Pitoy and a walk to sophomore Amaya Davis loaded the bases before junior Emily Paulson hit into a fielder’s choice to quell the threat.

Junior Britney Patrick led off the Saint Martin’s second with a single, stole second, moved to third when sophomore Kekai Schultz reached on an error and scored on freshman Olivia Matlock’s sacrifice fly. The error came back to haunt the Vikings when sophomore Shay Lopes singled to score Schultz to give SMU the 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the third inning, Conerly picked up a leadoff single and Patrick reached on a walk that was aided by a number of illegal pitches called against Ramirez. Another walk to Patrick ran Ramirez from the game. Two batters later, Matlock drew a walk off of reliever Joie Baker to load the bases before Lopes delivered on a two-out single to center field to score Conerly and Patrick for the 4-1 advantage.

The Saints broke the game open against Baker with a three-run fourth inning. Freshman Haley Agena reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a double by Lawson. Conerly followed that up with a single to score Agena and the subsequent error on the play allowed Lawson to score from second. Two batters later, Schultz delivered a sacrifice fly to score Conerly as the Saints built the six-run lead.

The Vikings took a pair of runs back in the top of the fifth. Junior Isabel Cargill led off with a single, Rath was hit by a pitch and senior Mikayla Liljenberg loaded the bases with a single to left-center field. Davis brought both runs home with her single before Saints reliever Chloe Leverington came on to retire the side. Rath needed one swing to bring WWU with three with her second home run of the game, another solo shot to right-center field.

Conerly delivered a pair of insurance runs for the Saints in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer to center field before Lopes closed the game with her three-run shot to right-center field.

Ridings improved to 16-4 with the win, allowing three runs, two earned, on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts in four innings of work. Leverington earned her 13th save of the season as she entered with the tying run on deck in the fourth and proceeded to allow one run one hit and struck out one in two innings. Ramirez fell to 16-7 with the loss, allowing four runs, two earned, on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work.