LACEY, Wash. - The Western Washington University softball team will play for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship after defeating Western Oregon 2-1 in a walk-off 8-inning victory on Saturday morning in a winner's bracket game of the conference tournament at SMU Softball Field.
Senior second baseman Kali Patterson (Bonney Lake, WA) doubled to the left-center field gap with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning to send the Vikings to their second consecutive walk-off victory in the tournament. Freshman pitcher Anna Kasner (Milton, WA/Fife) allowed one unearned run over 8.0 innings and tied her career high with a tournament-record 13 strikeouts in recording the complete-game victory.
WWU continued its last-season surge with its 10th consecutive victory to improve to 32-17 overall, tied for the 5th-most wins in a season in program history. The Vikings advance to the championship round of the tournament tomorrow needing one victory to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championship. They will face the winner of this afternoon's Western Oregon-Central Washington game at noon, with two chances to claim the GNAC Tournament title.
"What a gutsy performance today by the team," said head coach Amy Suiter. "A great pitcher's duel where either team wasn't giving in. Anna (Kasner) had an amazing performance on the championship stage. I am very proud of how this team is playing - offense, defense, pitching - and can't wait to get on the field tomorrow."
With the score tied 1-1 and playing in extra innings for the second straight game, WWU pushed the winning run across in the bottom of the 8th inning. Kasner reached on a one-out single to right field and was lifted for pinch-runner Kylisa Hull (Redmond, WA/Lake Washington). Right fielder Carlie Richards (Kennewick, WA/Kamiakin) drew a four-pitch walk to put Hull in scoring position. After freshman shortstop Paityn Cyr (Mount Vernon, WA) struck out, Patterson drilled a 1-1 pitch to left-center to score Hull with the game-winning run.
WWU held a 1-0 lead through the first five innings, but Western Oregon came back to tie the game in the top of the 6th inning.
After putting runners in scoring position the first two innings without pushing a run across, the Vikings got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 3rd inning on a run-scoring single by Makinlee Sellevold (Everett, WA/Cascade). Left fielder Sarah Morrow (Enumclaw, WA) led off with a double down the right field line and scored easily on Sellevold's line-drive single to center field.
The Wolves pulled even with a single tally in the top of the 6th inning. Shortstop Kelsie Gardner led off with an infield single, battling Kasner on a 7-pitch at-bat, fouling off three balls before legging out the single to third base. Gardner stole second base to move into scoring position and advanced to third on a passed ball. Designated player Mercedes Green singled off Kasner's glove to bring home the tying run. WOU had the potential go-ahead run in scoring position when Kasner ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to walk off with the win in the bottom of the 7th inning, but WOU escaped with an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded to keep the game tied 1-1. Pinch-hitter Mackenzie Palmer (Federal Way, WA/Todd Beamer) led off with a double down the left field line, but was throw out at third base trying for the triple. WWU quickly loaded the bases on a single and a pair of fielder's choices (WOU error), but relief pitcher Sammi Cadwallader got Sellevold to line into the double play to end the inning.
Kasner allowed 3 hits and one run in 8.0 innings to improve to 13-5 on the season and 2-0 in the tournament. The GNAC co-Pitcher of the Year registered her seventh double-digit strikeout performance of the season and tied her career high with her fourth 13-strikeout game (T6th in WWU single-game history).
Eight players combined for WWU's 9 hits in the game, led by a multi-hit game from sophomore center fielder McKenna Mathis (Mesa, WA/Connell). Morrow (6 games), Kasner (6 games), Sellevold (7 games) and Emily Benson (8 games) all extended their hitting streaks.
WOU starting pitcher Haley Fabian recorded a no-decision allowing 7 hits and one run in 6.1 innings. Cadwallader (9-4) was saddled with the loss allowing 2 hits and the game-winning run in 1.1 innings.
Western Washington 2, Western Oregon 1 (May 06, 2017 at Lacey, WA) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Western Oregon...... 000 001 00 - 1 3 1 (28-23) Western Washington.. 001 000 01 - 2 9 0 (32-17) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Western Oregon - Fabian; Cadwallader (7) and Siolo Western Washington - Kasner and Hughes Win-Kasner (14-5) Loss-Cadwallader (9-4) T-1:53 A-96 Weather: 49-degrees, Mostly Sunny
-- WWU Athletics (@WWUAthletics) May 6, 2017
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