Vikings Top Toros, 1 Win Away From World Series
Maleah Andrews (8) is greeted at home plate by her teammates on Tuesday after she led off the bottom of the first inning with her sixth home run of the year.
Maleah Andrews (8) is greeted at home plate by her teammates on Tuesday after she led off the bottom of the first inning with her sixth home run of the year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Emma Andrewjeski-Ramirez fouled off three pitches in a 3-2 count before ending Tuesday’s NCAA Super Regional Championship opener by drawing a walk-off walk, giving host Western Washington a come-from-behind, 4-3 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills at Viking Field.

The biggest swing of the bat in the game came from Emily Paulson in the bottom of the sixth, as she punched a two-out, game-tying single into left field that brought home pinch runner Laila Carpenter. WWU had trailed since the second inning, and relied on strong pitching performances from starter Alli Kimball and relievers Joie Baker and Kaiana Kong to keep the comeback chances alive.

Western Washington improved to 47-8 – a program record for wins in a season – and moved within one win of reaching the Division II College World Series. The best-of-three super regional series continues on Wednesday with a noon (PT) first pitch, with the Toros needing to beat the Vikings twice on WWU’s home field. CSU Dominguez Hills moved to 38-20 on the season with Tuesday’s defeat.

Paulson was one of three Vikings with multiple hits in the game, while Maleah Andrews and Ashley Jacobson each hit solo home runs. Kong threw a scoreless top of the seventh to collect the win, after Baker allowed just three hits across 3 2/3 shutout innings of relief. Kimball allowed a three-run home run in her 2 1/3 innings making the start.

Mariah Ramirez went the distance in the circle for the Toros, allowing four runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts and three walks in her 6 1/3 innings of work. Kaylee Hull, who delivered the big three-run blow in the second inning, was among three Toros who had multiple hits in the game.

Andrews, the 2024 GNAC Softball Championships MVP, led off the bottom of the first with her sixth home run of the season, spotting the Vikings to a 1-0 advantage. Each team turned a double play in the first inning, as Kimball and Ramirez each worked around early baserunners.

A defensive miscue in the top of the second set the table for the Toros’ Hull, who launched her ninth home run of the season to put the visitors ahead 3-1.

That’s where the score stayed until the fourth inning, when WWU’s Jacobson hit her eighth home run of the year to get her team within a run. Paulson followed the long ball with a double, but Ramirez struck out the next two hitters she faced to strand the tying run in scoring position.

The Vikings kept creating chances however, as Andrewjeski-Ramirez led off the sixth inning with a double to center field. After being lifted for the pinch runner Carpenter, she watched Paulson’s looping single nestle into the gap in left-center to complete the comeback and even the score at 3-3.

Andrewjeski-Ramirez’s number was called again in the bottom of the seventh, after a leadoff single by McKenna Crum was followed by a walk drawn by Andrews and a gutsy sacrifice bunt on a high pitch by Kanilehua Pitoy to push the winning run 60 feet from home plate. The Toros elected to intentionally walk GNAC Player of the Year Hailey Rath, and Andrewjeski-Ramirez won a nine-pitch battle to end the game.

OF NOTE: WWU is vying to become the first team in GNAC history to reach the NCAA national championships in softball. The last conference team to reach the NCAA Super Regionals was Central Washington in 2016, which lost its three-game series to Humboldt State.