Vikings Unleash Rath On Wolves To Advance To Friday
Rath's two-run double in the fifth inning complemented a pair of solo home runs she had in the Vikings' first game of the day. Photo by Ethan Cairns.
Rath's two-run double in the fifth inning complemented a pair of solo home runs she had in the Vikings' first game of the day. Photo by Ethan Cairns.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

BURNABY, B.C. – Freshman Hailey Rath’s two-run double in the fifth proved to be the decisive blow for Western Washington as the No. 3 seeded Vikings advanced in the GNAC Softball Championships with a 6-3 win over No. 4 seeded Western Oregon on Thursday at Beedie Field on the campus of Simon Fraser University.

Rath delivered her two-run single to open scoring in the four-run fifth, giving the Vikings the lead for good after trailing 3-2 going into the inning. Rath and junior Taylor Khorrami added runs later in the inning on a pair of Western Oregon errors.

Rath, the GNAC Freshman of the Year, went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to lead the Vikings. Senior Kinzey Williams and junior Isabel Cargill each had two hits as all seven WWU hits came from the top three positions in the batting order. Juniors Bella Valdes and Natalie Willoughby each had two hits to lead the Wolves.

With the win, the Vikings (25-22) advance to play the loser of Friday’s opening game between No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene and No. 2 seed Saint Martin’s at 12:30 p.m. Western Oregon sees its season end at 22-30.

Western Oregon saw a golden opportunity to break the game open in the top of the second inning. Willoughby and seniors Baylie Kahele and Logan Carlos loaded the bases with straight singles to begin the frame. Ramirez settled down after that, retiring the next three batters to end the threat. The Wolves left an opportunity empty again in the third as Valdes singled and junior Katelyn McGough walked before WWU senior pitcher Mareena Ramirez retired the next three batters in order.

Western Washington played small ball to manufacture two runs in the bottom of the third. Khorrami walked to lead off the frame followed by a single by Williams. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners before Khorrami scored on Rath’s fielder’s choice. Senior Brooke Fesenbek followed with a fielder’s choice that the Wolves threw home but Williams dislodged the ball from the WOU catcher to score the second run.

The Wolves took the lead with one swing of the bat in the top of the fourth. Carlos and freshman Sydney Conklin walked and Valdes singled before McGough launched a two-out bases-clearing double to center field to make it a 3-2 game.

The Vikings took the lead back with a big fifth inning that saw 10 batters come to the plate. Williams and Cargill led off the inning with singles and Rath sent both home with an RBI double to center field to give WWU the lead. Rath later scored on an error. Fesenbek then reached on an error and later scored when Khorrami each on the second error of the frame.

Western Oregon had two runners on base in the sixth and one in the seventh but could not mount a comeback against Ramirez, who improved to 17-7 on the season as she allowed three runs on three hits with three walks while striking out two. Western Oregon senior Maddie Mayer took the loss, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits with three walks in four innings.