Vikings Victorious On Opening Softball Weekend
Western Washington poses after its 12-inning win over No. 15 Concordia Irvine, solidifying a 4-0 start to the 2024 season last Sunday.
Western Washington poses after its 12-inning win over No. 15 Concordia Irvine, solidifying a 4-0 start to the 2024 season last Sunday.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – The headline performance of the opening weekend of the 2024 softball season came from Western Washington, which swept away the competition in Irvine, Calif., to claim the title of Concordia Irvine Kickoff Classic Champion.

 The Vikings (4-0) clinched the team title at the season-opening event thanks in large part to a gutsy, 12-inning win over No. 15 Concordia Irvine as they emerged 3-2. Although rain prevented preseason GNAC favorite No. 25 Northwest Nazarene from getting all of its games in, the Nighthawks were the conference’s other team to go unbeaten on opening weekend with a 3-0 record.

GNAC Softball Schedule - Feb. 8-11
Team Opponents Location(s)
Montana State Billings #7 Cal State San Marcos San Marcos, CA
#25 Northwest Nazarene #15 Concordia Irvine Irvine, CA
Saint Martin's CSUMB, Sonoma State, Chico State, Stanislaus State Rohnert Park, CA
Western Oregon Southern Oregon Monmouth, OR
Western Washington Sonoma State, Chico State, CSUMB, Dominican Rohnert Park, CA/San Rafael, CA
This Week's Storylines

VIKINGS VICTORIOUS IN IRVINE: Western Washington was tested immediately, emerging with a 6-5 win over San Francisco State in its opening game of the 2024 season. The Vikings followed with convincing wins over Stanislaus State (9-1) and Cal State Monterey Bay (7-3), setting up a clash with the tournament hosts in the finale. Nine shutout innings from Joie Baker kept WWU alive, before back-to-back RBI knocks from Laila Carpenter and Taylor Khorrami in the top of the 12th inning sealed the tournament title.

First baseman Ashley Jacobson hit .571 (8-for-14) with her first home run, while reigning GNAC Freshman of the Year Hailey Rath went 7-for-14 with a team-high four RBIs. That duo joined Baker and fellow pitcher Alli Kimball, who allowed zero earned runs in 9 2/3 innings of work, on the all-tournament team.

BOOTH BETTER THAN EVER: Two-time GNAC Pitcher of the Year (2021, 2022) Sidney Booth signaled that she’s ready to pick up right where she left off last year, as she put forth a dominant effort on both sides of the ball for the nationally-ranked Nighthawks. The left-hander struck out 14 batters in 16 1/3 innings and posted a 0.86 ERA while earning the win in all three of NNU’s games. Offensively, Booth hit .500 (5-for-10) including the walk-off hit in the team’s 2-1 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills and supplied the winning run in its 3-2 triumph over Dominican. Joining Booth on the all-tournament team was Clarissa Moreno, who led the team with three RBIs and hit her first home run of the season.

GNAC Career ERA Leaders (Min. 200 IP) (as of Feb. 7, 2024)
Rank Player School ERA Career
1 Lizzy Prescott Humboldt State 1.00 2005-06
2 Amanda Grant Western Washington 1.20 2000-03
3 Tracy Motzny Humboldt State 1.24 2004-06
4 Emily Weitzel Humboldt State 1.34 2003
5 Allison Sempsis Western Oregon 1.51 2002-03
6 Shona Guevara Humboldt State 1.60 2002
7 Jordan Adams Northwest Nazarene 1.71 2018-19
8 Jill McCarthy Central Washington 1.80 2002-04
9 Nancy Mills Western Washington 1.81 2000-03
10 Sidney Booth Northwest Nazarene 1.87 2020-24



SAINTS PICK UP 3 WINS: Saint Martin’s was the other GNAC team to emerge with a winning record on opening weekend, going 3-2 at the D2 Kickoff Classic in Conroe, Texas. The Saints stomped Regis 7-0 in the season-opener, before topping Cal Poly Humboldt 5-3 and beating St. Edward’s 7-2. Shelby Watson led the team offensively going 6-for-16 (.375), while Britney Patrick had a team-high five RBIs. In the circle, Chloe Leverington struck out eight batters in 9 1/3 innings while earning a win and a save and pitching in 4 of 5 games.

RAIN WREAKS HAVOC IN CALIFORNIA: The GNAC softball teams had plans to get many more games under their belts than they did over the week, with torrential rainfall in Southern California canceling a total of 16 scheduled contests from Feb. 5-7. Montana State Billings, Northwest Nazarene, Western Washington and Saint Martin’s will have their fingers crossed that Mother Nature eases up, as all four have games scheduled in California over the weekend.

CASS SMASHES, DUCLOS RUNS WILD: Simon Fraser (2-4) bookended its opening weekend with victories, beating Fort Lewis 11-3 in the opener and topping Western New Mexico 9-1 in the finale of the South Central Regional Challenge in Los Lunas, N.M. GNAC Player of the Week Cassidy Affeldt crushed three home runs, while adding two doubles, driving in seven and slugging 1.095 across the six games. Megan Duclos, the GNAC’s active career stolen base leader with 64, was a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts. That pushed the senior up to a tie for No. 8 on the GNAC all-time list.

GNAC Career Stolen Base Leaders (as of Feb. 7, 2024)
Rank Player School SB Career
1 Andrea Williams Humboldt State 86 2001-04
2 Savannah Egbert Central Washington 77 2017-19
3 Cassidy Fifield Northwest Nazarene 75 2016-19
4 Jessi Williams Western Washington 74 2000-03
5 Rachael Johnson Central Washington 71 2016-19
6 Ivy Hommel Northwest Nazarene 69 2018-22
7 Kylee Vanderbout Saint Martin's 65 2019-22
8 Autumn Isaacson Western Washington 64 2014-15
  Megan Duclos Simon Fraser 64 2020, 22-24
10 Heather Tracy Montana State Billings 61 2015-18



WOLVES SPLIT IN CALIFORNIA: Western Oregon emerged with a pair of victories on opening weekend, including a 4-0 shutout of Biola authored by Mackenzee Collins. The senior right-hander allowed just five hits in the 106-pitch effort and struck out three batters in her effective season debut.

YELLOWJACKETS BRING THE POP: Montana State Billings hit a GNAC-high eight home runs on opening weekend, including two apiece from Marin Penney, Jazlyn Kalehuawehe and Lauren Blaschak. Penney is the conference’s active leader in long balls, and is tied for fourth in MSUB history with 30 home runs since her collegiate debut in the spring of 2020. Blaschak meanwhile got right to work on besting last year’s home run total of five, as she upped her career total to 10 long balls since debuting in the spring of 2022. Completing the trifecta of power, Kalehuawehe increased her career total to 13 home runs at the outset of her junior season.

WILDCATS CLAIM FIRST WIN: After a tough 0-7 start to the season, Central Washington emerged with a come-from-behind, 6-4 triumph over Our Lady Of The Lake University in its final game of a Texas road trip on Wednesday. The Wildcats will look to parlay the momentum into their upcoming four-game series against Eastern Oregon on Feb. 17-18.

This Week's Players To Watch


Victoria Zimmerman – Western Oregon

Getting her sophomore season off to a fiery start, Zimmerman went 6-for-11 (.545) with a triple and eight total bases in the Wolves’ first four games of the year. Drawing a pair of walks helped her reach base in 8 of 14 plate appearances (.615 OBP), and she was successful in all three of her stolen base attempts. Zimmerman earned 11 starts and played in 36 games as a freshman last season, but figures to be a key fixture in the Wolves’ lineup throughout the 2024 campaign.


Ashlee Laver – Central Washington

Laver ate up 16 innings across the Wildcats’ first eight games of the season, and her nine strikeouts were fourth most among all GNAC pitchers on opening weekend. Laver allowed just two walks and held a 3.06 ERA, and pitched the distance in two of her outings. An experienced, fourth-year veteran of the CWU program, Laver will look to build off a 2023 season that was the best of her career with 63 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings and a 3.37 ERA.

GNAC Softball In The Rankings

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association releases its national rankings every at noon (ET) on every Tuesday throughout the season, beginning on Feb. 13. The 2024 preseason coaches poll was released on Jan. 23.

NFCA National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason 25. NNU -- -- --
GNAC Softball In The NCAA Statistical Rankings

First NCAA statistical rankings to be provided 2/14/23.

2023-24 GNAC Men's Basketball Championships
2024 GNAC Softball Players of the Week
Date Player of the Week Pitcher of the Week
2/5 Cassidy Affeldt, Simon Fraser Sidney Booth, Northwest Nazarene

Feb. 5 GNAC Softball Players of the Week

Player of the Week – Cassidy Affeldt, Simon Fraser

Second-career player of the week, first this season.

Affeldt had a monster week at the plate in her 2024 debut, batting .571 with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs across SFU’s six games in New Mexico. Affeldt led all GNAC players in hitting, home runs, RBIs, and doubles, while ranking second in slugging percentage (1.095) and reaching base at a clip of .591. The highlight of her big week came against New Mexico Highlands on Saturday, when she went 3-for-3 with two home runs. Affeldt also tied for the most runs scored by a GNAC player (5) and stole a base to get her sophomore season off to a booming start.

“Coming off a pretty good freshman year, she had high expectations for herself,” SFU head coach Stacy Fournier said of the third baseman. “She put in a ton of work in the off-season physically and mentally. To see all of that come together over the weekend and her confidence at the plate was fun to watch. When she swings she always swings with intent, and when she hits it, she hits it hard.”

Also Nominated: Kate Hopkins, CWU; Teagan Seeton, MSUB; Clarissa Moreno, NNU; Olivia Matlock, SMU; Victoria Zimmerman, WOU; Hailey Rath, WWU.

Pitcher of the Week – Sidney Booth, Northwest Nazarene

Ninth-career pitcher of the week, first this season.

The GNAC’s career strikeout leader got her senior campaign off to a stellar start, earning the win in all three of the Nighthawks’ triumphs in California. Booth led all GNAC pitchers with 14 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .138 across 16 1/3 innings pitched. The left-hander posted a 0.86 earned run average, which was crucial in NNU’s three one-run victories. In addition to her dominance in the circle, Booth had a profound impact offensively as well. In the eighth inning of a 2-2 game against Dominican on Saturday, Booth hit a two-out double to put the eventual winning run in scoring position. Later that day in a 1-1 game against Cal State Dominguez Hills, Booth punched a walk-off single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

“She has been working really hard and is an incredible athlete,” said NNU head coach Rich Wagner. “The amount of work she has put in through injuries is amazing, and her desire to win and be successful for her teammates is what helps with her ability to make it through when she is tired. She came in and did a really good job for us in two of the games, and she shut the door in another. She got better as the week went, and in two of her last three innings she had her best stuff of the week. Being a fifth year and having the regional and postseason experience under her belt, she is here with something to prove in her last year. She really wants to help this team make it to the next level.”

Also Nominated: Ashlee Laver, CWU; Tia Ridings, SMU; Monica Bourque, SFU; Mackenzee Collins, WOU; Alli Kimball, WWU.

2024 GNAC Softball Championships

The 2024 GNAC Softball Championships will be played May 2-4 at Viking Field on the campus of Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. The four-team double-elimination tournament will determine the recipient of the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. The top-four teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings earn berths into the conference tournament.


2024 All-Tournament Selections


2024 Concordia Kickoff Classic
Feb. 2-4 at Irvine, Calif. (Concordia Irvine, Host)
Montana State Billings: Lauren Blaschak, SS; Teagan Seeton, CF
Northwest Nazarene: Sidney Booth, LHP; Claudia Moreno, SS
Western Oregon: Nicki Derrick, RHP
Western Washington: Ashley Jacobsen, 1B; Alli Kimball, RHP; Hailey Rath, SS; Joie Baker, RHP


Rank Team (1st Place Votes) 2023 GNAC Record (Finish) Points
1. Northwest Nazarene (7) 39-17 21-3 (1st) 49
2. Western Washington 26-23 13-11 (3rd) 41
3. Saint Martin's 29-18 15-9 (2nd) 35
4. Western Oregon 22-30 11-13 (4th) 25
5. Central Washington 21-27 9-15 (6th) 19
6. Montana State Billings 18-28 10-14 (5th) 17
7. Simon Fraser 11-36 5-19 (7th) 10

Points awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.