WEEKLY RELEASE: Softball opens 2008 season at Lead-Off Classic in Phoenix, Ariz.
Feb. 11, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The Vikings kick off the 2008 season at the Schutt Sports/Triple Crown Lead-Off Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. Western begins tournament play against Cal State Stanislaus and will also face Minnesota State-Mankato and Eastern New Mexico in Pool F play. The top team in each pool, plus the top three second-place teams, advance to the Gold Bracket Championship.
Last season in Phoenix, Western finished pool play with a 1-2 record, advancing to the Silver Bracket Championship. The Vikings reeled off three straight wins before falling to Hawaii-Hilo in the bracket final.
Pool F features three teams that qualified for the 2007 NCAA Division II Regional Championships. The Vikings and Cal State Stanislaus faced off in the West Region, while Minnesota State-Mankato qualified in the Central Region. The Warriors knocked off Western in the West Regional first-round en route to earning their regional championship and a trip to nationals.
The early test should prove beneficial to a young Viking team. Last season Western used the Lead-Off Classic as a springboard to a record setting year. The Vikings won a school record 34 games and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for just the second time in team history.
Seven letter winners and five starters return from the 2007 team, while eight newcomers round out a talented roster. The Vikings were picked second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Coaches Poll behind rival Seattle U.
SCOUTING CAL STATE STANISLAUS
The Warriors are 0-4 following a dissapointing showing as host of the 2008 Best of the West Tournament at Pedretti Park in Turlock, Calif. Possesing one of the region's best offenses in 2007, Cal State Stanislaus has been outscored 31-14 and shut out twice this season, including a 4-0 loss to pitcher Kelsey Reynolds and the Seattle Redhawks on Feb. 1.
Junior transfer Britney Borba leads the Warriors with a .500 average (6-for-12), but has yet to record an extra-base hit. Senior Casey Anderson and sophomore Jennifer Arnold are the only other two Warriors hitting above .300 at .364 and .357, respectively. Arnold leads the team with three extra-base hits, two doubles and a home run. Pitcher Jessica Gaumitz, a first-team Daktronics West Region All-Star in 2007, has struggled early in 2008. Gaumitz has allowed 11 hits in nine innings and managed just a 5.25 earned run average in two starts.
Western and Cal State Stanislaus met four times last season, with the Warriors sweeping the season series, including a 2-0 win in the West Regional. Cal State Stanislaus leads the all-time series 11-7 and has won the last seven meetings. Western's last series win came on April 5, 2003.
SCOUTING MINNESOTA STATE-MANKATO
Like the Vikings, the Mavericks will their 2008 debut at the Lead-Off Classic. Minnesota State-Mankato finished the 2007 season with a 45-15 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Central Regional.
Senior centerfielder Lynndi Decker returns and headlines a potent Maverick line-up. Decker hit .405 last season and stole 14 bases. Minnesota State hit .319 as a team and pounded out 39 home runs in 60 games last year. Senior Samantha Rohr and junior Meghan Teal proved to be a formidable 1-2 punch in 2007. Rohr was 27-9 with a 1.85 ERA, while Teal finished 15-4 with a 1.95 ERA. The duo combined to make 51 starts and toss 33 complete games.
The two teams will meet for the first time on Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
SCOUTING EASTERN NEW MEXICO
The Zias have won eight straight games, after opening the season 0-3, outscoring their opponents 90-10 during that winning streak. Eastern New Mexico's last six wins have each come in five innings, via the eight-run mercy rule. The Zias are hitting .422 as a team and have already launched 10 home runs this season. ENMU has successfully swiped 32 bases in 33 attempts.
Tawna Lei Tagaloa leads a trio of Zias hitting over .500, with a .545 average in six games. Rebecca Quinones and Laura Thompson are hitting .531 and .516, respectively. Pitchers Natalie Woodside and Kristen Cruickshank will get the bulk of the starts for Easter New Mexico. Woodside boasts a 1.68 ERA and a 3-2 record, while Cruickshank is 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a .218 average against.
The two teams will meet for the first time on Feb. 15 at 11:00 a.m.
The Vikings captured the program's first Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in 2007. Western finished with a 15-5 league mark, edging Western Oregon with a double-header sweep on the final weekend of the regular season.
Western qualified for the NCAA West Regional for the second time in program history last season, winning a school record 34 games in the process. The Vikings suffered a pair of agonizingly close losses to Cal State Stanislaus (2-0) and Sonoma State (3-1) in regional action at Turlock, Calif. Western can exact some early-season revenge against the Warriors on Feb. 14 at the Lead-Off Classic and against the Seawolves on Mar. 2 at the Central Washington Invitational in Richland, Wash.
Western swept all three major Great Northwest Athletic Conference awards in 2007. Departed senior Jackie Quint was named Pitcher of the Year, while battery mate Liza Teichler was honored as the league's Player of the Year. Head Coach Lonnie Hicks capped the trifecta when he took home Coach of the Year accolades. Quint, Teichler and center fielder Misty Britt were named first-team GNAC All-Stars, while infielders Nicole Walker and Meghan Flem were second-team picks.
Three Vikings earned regional honors. Teichler and pitcher Sarah McEnroe were named second-team All-NFCA West Region all-stars. Teichler was also named to the Daktronics West Region first-team, while Quint earned second-team honors.
MINNESOTA STATE CONNECTION
The Vikings will face Minnesota State during Pool F competition at the Schutt Sports/Triple Crown Lead-Off Classic. The two school's have never met on the softball field,
but Western head coach Lonnie Hicks is familliar with the Maverick program. Hicks' daughter Lori played for Minnesota State from 1997-98.
Western's home opener is slated for Mar. 6 against GNAC newcomer Montana State Billings. The two teams are scheduled to play a conference doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The Vikings and Yellowjackets will square off in a non-league double dip on Mar. 7 at 1 p.m.
Opposing base stealers swiped 73 bases in 81 attempts last season, successfully advancing 90-percent of the time.
GET IN FRONT OF IT DORN
The Vikings committed 87 errors in 2007, turning in a .949 fielding percentage which ranked fourth in the GNAC. Western averaged 1.55 errors per contest and committed multiple errors on 23 occasions. The Vikings played error-free softball just nine times.
Western won a school record 34 games during the 2007 season, turning in the fifth 30-win season in program history. With 30 wins in 2008, Viking head coach Lonnie Hicks would match former bench boss Art Phinney with a school record 186 career wins. Hicks is currently 156-130, good for a .545 winning percentage, in six seasons at Western.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Western finished the 2007 season with a 10-4 record at Viking Field, including eight of the final nine home contests of the year. The Vikings finished 7-3 in conference home games and 3-1 in non-conference tilts.
THE THIRD RUN IS THE CHARM
Western was 33-5 when scoring at least three runs last season and a paltry 1-17 when failing to do so. Conversely, the Vikings were 25-5 when holding opponents under three runs and 9-17 when allowing three or more.
The Vikings played just six night games in 2007, but certainly would have prefered to play many more. Western was 5-1 in games starting after 5 p.m.
NATIONAL WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY
Western catcher Liza Teichler and former pitcher Jackie Quint were among those honored on the floor of the Washington State Senate on Feb. 6 for National Women and Girls in Sports Day. The annual resolution is passed by the senate each year in an effort to recognize the commitment and courage of female athletes.
ACE OF DIAMONDS
Junior transfer Jessica Rosencrants is expected to be Western's ace this spring, replacing the record-setting Jackie Quint. Rosencrants was a first-team NWAACC Northern Region all-star at Peninsula CC last season, after spending her freshman year at Division I Southeast Missouri State. She posted a 61-9 record during a standout high school career. Rosencrants struck out 567 batters, while walking just 16 in four years at Sequim High School (Sequim, Wash.) and Carlmont High School (Belmont, Calif.)
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Sophomore Meghan Flem belted nine home runs during her freshman campaign to set a Western single-season record. The Hood River, Ore., enters 2008 just three homers shy of the school record for career round-trippers. Carlena Herd is the current record holder. Herd hit 12 home runs from 1999-2002.
REST FOR THE WEARY
Viking sophomores Hannah Becker and Megan Fowler will redshirt the 2008 season while recovering from injuries. Both players were projected starters. Becker hit .264 with four home runs and 19 RBI as a catcher during her freshman year, while Fowler started 39 games in a utility role.
Liza Teichler hit .368 with four home runs, 40 RBI and 33 runs scored, earning 2007 GNAC Player of the Year accolades. Teichler, a career .327 hitter, enters the season with 112 base hits (64 as a junior), 82 shy of the school record (194 - Jen Brandolini / 1996-99). She is also within range of school records in career doubles (38 - Cathy Johnson / 1996-99) and RBI (104 - Cathy Johnson / 1996-99). Teichler currently boasts 23 career doubles and 60 RBI.
If youre looking for Katie Barker on the softball field - just head out to second base. Barker has been a regular at the position since arriving on Western's campus in 2005. Barker has appeared in 87 games for the Vikings in two seasons, starting 86, all at second base.
Senior Lisa Pendergrast returns to the Viking lineup with a clean bill of health. Pendergrast suffered a wrist injury for the second straight year, missing most of the conference slate in 2007. Now healthy, Pendergrast will see time at third base and in left field. She hit .278 last season, including one stretch of seven-consecutive at bats with a base hit.
Junior Morgan Parkerson quietly posted one of the team's most productive offensive seasons in 2007. Parkerson hit .275 overall with four home runs and 19 RBI, but saved her best at bats for the clutch moments. The outfielder hit .378 with runners on base, .417 with runners in scoring position and successfully advanced base runners nearly 56-percent of the time.
Three Viking newcomers were teammates at Inglemoor High School. Pitcher Emily Hardin and catchers Samantha Rutherford and Michelle Wrigley all started and lettered for the Inglemoor Vikings the past three seasons. As seniors, the trio led the team to a 24-5 mark and a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament.
ON THE WEB
For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the Western Athletic web page at www.wwuvikings.com. Up-to-date league standings and statistics can be found on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference web page at www.gnacsports.com.
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