LACEY, Wash. – Western Washington University sophomore center fielder McKenna Mathis drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the No. 2-seed Vikings to a 5-4 walk-off victory over No. 3-seed Saint Martin’s Thursday afternoon to open the 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships at SMU Softball Field.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect, freshman pinch-runner Jackie Lucido (San Jose, Ca/Piedmont Hills) was placed at second base to start the inning. Lucido moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Cylie Richards (Kennewick, WA/Kamiakin) and scored the game-winning run on the sac fly to shallow left field by Mathis to end the longest game in GNAC Tournament history. The Viking held SMU scoreless in the top half of the 10th inning despite having a runner on third base with one out.
“There’s just no quit in this team right now and they are riding the momentum from the end of the season,” said head coach Amy Suiter. “The team did a great job of battling back and put together some really good at-bats in key situations.”
With their ninth consecutive victory the Vikings improved to 31-17 overall advance to the winners bracket of the GNAC Tournament where they will play the winner of the No. 4 Western Oregon and No. 1 Central Washington game at 10 am Friday morning. At the time of this news release, the CWU-WOU game has been halted twice in the first three innings to thunderstorms and lightning in the Lacey area.
“Getting a win on the first day this tournament is huge and really sets things up nicely,” added Suiter. “Tomorrow is a new day but we’ll take our same mindset into that game.”
SMU took the early 1-0 lead on a run-scoring single by pitcher Kim Nelson in the top of the 2nd inning. Jackie Schmaeling reached on a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch, and then scored on Nelson’s two-out single to center field.
Western tied things up in the bottom of the 4th inning on a one-out double by shortstop Paityn Cyr (Mount Vernon, WA). First baseman Emily Benson (West Richland, WA/Kamiakin) reached on a leadoff error and moved into scoring position on a single through the left side by designated player Anna Kasner (Milton, WA/Fife). Cyr then delivered a double to the left field gap to knot the game at 1-1.
The Vikings took a 2-1 lead with a single tally in the bottom of the 5th inning. Pitcher Shearyna Labasan (Mililani, HI/Maryknoll) led off with a double to left-center, moved to third on a sac bunt by left fielder Sarah Morrow (Enumclaw, WA) and scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Makinlee Sellevold (Everett, WA/Cascade).
SMU responded with three runs in the top of the 6th inning to retake the lead at 4-2. Schmaeling plated a pair of runs with a bases loaded single to right field and third baseman Corrie Wilson extended the lead with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the bottom of the 6th with the Vikings tying the game back up at 4-4 with a pair of runs. The Richards twins, Carlie and Cylie, both singled and came in to score on consecutive run-scoring singles by Mathis (Mesa, WA/Connell) and Labasan. With two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position, Sellevold flied out to deep right-center field to end the inning.
The Vikings had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 7th inning when Benson and Kasner singled to lead off the inning, but the game pushed into extra innings when pinch-runner Kylisa Hull (Redmond, WA/Lake Washington) was stranded at third base. WWU also put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 8th inning, but the game remained scoreless until the deciding 10th inning.
Labasan tied a tournament record for hits in a game going 4-for-5 with a run scored and hit her 10th double of the season. She also recorded a no-decision in the circle allowing 6 hits and 4 runs in 5.1 innings. Kasner fired 4.2 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts to earn the win in relief to improve to 13-5 on the season.
Benson went 2-for-4 with a walk to extend her hitting streak to seven consecutive games and Kasner went 2-for-5.
SMU center fielder Lauren Diuco (2-for-4, R) and Schmaeling (2-for-3, R, 2 BB, 2 RBI) both recorded multi-hit games for the Saints. Relief pitcher Lauren Maley (8-4) was saddled with the loss allowing 4 hits and 1 run in 4.1 innings. Nelson started and recorded a no-decision allowing 6 hits and 4 runs in 5.1 innings.
Western Washington 5, Saint Martin's 4 (May 04, 2017 at Lacey, WA) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Saint Martin's...... 010 003 000 0 - 4 8 1 (25-18) Western Washington.. 000 112 000 1 - 5 14 0 (31-17) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Saint Martin's - Nelson; Maley (6) and Schmaeling Western Washington - Labasan; Kasner (6) and Hughes Win-Kasner (13-5) Loss-Maley (8-4) T-2:33 A-146 Weather: 50s Overcast
— GNAC Sports (@GNACsports) May 4, 2017
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