Fesenbek Propels Vikings To GNAC Championships Final
Fesenbek went 3 for 4 and had five RBIs to leads a 17-hit performance for Western Washington, all of which came in the final three innings. Photo by Ethan Cairns.
Fesenbek went 3 for 4 and had five RBIs to leads a 17-hit performance for Western Washington, all of which came in the final three innings. Photo by Ethan Cairns.

Friday, May 5, 2023

BURNABY, B.C. –Brooke Fesenbek delivered in the most unusual way and the most powerful way.

The Western Washington senior started a five-run fourth-inning rally with a rare bunt double that scored a run and punctuated a five-run sixth inning with a mammoth grand slam to lead the Vikings to the 15-6 win over Saint Martin’s to survive and advance in the GNAC Softball Championships at Beedie Field on the campus of Simon Fraser University.

Fesenbek went 3 for 4, had five RBIs and finished a triple shy of the cycle with all of her hits coming in the final three innings as five Vikings’ batters finished with two or more hits apiece. All of the offense came after WWU managed just two hits over the first four innings.

Juniors Isabel Cargill and sophomore Kanilehua Pitoy also had three hits in the victory while junior Emily Paulson and sophomore McKenna Crum had two-hit performances. Freshman Hailey Rath walked four times, setting the GNAC Championships single-game record.

After going hitless against Northwest Nazarene in Friday’s opener, Saint Martin’s managed eight hits on the evening. Junior Destiny Conerly and Shay Lopes each had two RBIs in the loss.

With the win, the Vikings (26-22) advance to play Northwest Nazarene in the GNAC Championships final on Saturday at noon. The Saints, who took two losses on the day, see their season end with a 29-18 record.

Saint Martin’s opened scoring in the first inning against Western Washington. Freshman Shelby Lawson drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Conerly’s single up the middle.

The Saints made it a 2-0 game with one out in the second inning when junior Kekai Schultz walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single through the left side by junior Olivia Schmidt. They added on a third run in the fourth when Lopes led off with a single, advanced to second on a ground out and a single by Schultz and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Vanessa Smoke.

Saint Martin’s starting pitcher Tia Ridings, meanwhile, did not allow a ball put into play to leave the infield until Cargill rolled a single through the left side with two outs in the top of the third. After a subsequent walk to Rath, Ridings was pulled in favor of sophomore Chloe Leverington, who proceeded to strike out Fesenbek to close the frame.

The Vikings roared to life offensively with a five-run fourth inning. Cargill singled with one out and then scored on a double by Rath. Fesenbek scored a second run with the unusual bunt double with the ball rolling just 10 feet down the first base line to score Cargill. Two batters later, Pitoy hit a single to left, scoring Rath before Paulson smashed a triple to the right field wall, bringing Pitoy and pinch-runner Mikayla Liljenberg to take the lead.

After Crum and senior Kinsey Williams reached on singles in the top of the sixth, the Saints elected to intentionally walk Rath for the third time in the game. Fesenbek then delivered with the grand slam, launching the two-ball, two-strike pitch over the center field wall. Sophomore Amaya Davis and Pitoy followed the grand slam with two more singles with Pitoy scoring on a single up the middle by junior Taylor Khorrami.

All of the Vikings’ five seventh-inning hits came with one out. Cargill singled and advanced to second on an error. She later scored on a passed ball. Rath walked, Fesenbek singled for her third hit of the game and sophomore Amaya Davis walked to set the table for Pitoy, who hit the game’s second grand slam over the left-center field wall.

Saint Martin’s scored two more runs in the fifth and one more run in the sixth inning.