April 24, 2014
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
With an opportunity to win the regular-season league title, its first since 2007, the Western Washington University softball team completes its Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule this weekend, traveling for doubleheaders at conference-leading Western Oregon on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Saint Martin's on Sunday (11 a.m.).
The Vikings, 27-11 overall, have won 16 of their last 19 games. They are tied for second in the GNAC standings at 14-6 with Central Washington. Western Oregon leads the conference at 16-4, and defending champion Saint Martin's is fourth at 12-8. Wins in each of its last four games would assure WWU a tie for first.
The top four teams in the GNAC standings already have clinched the available berths in the double-elimination GNAC Tournament on May 1-3 at Richland. The winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II West Regional.
WWU was ranked No.9 for the second straight week in the regional poll. The regional rankings eventually determine the eight-team field for the regional playoffs with five teams joining the GNAC, Pacific West Conference and California Collegiate Athletic Association champions.
WWU, which swept its four-game series with Northwest Nazarene last week at Viking Field, finished 12-2 at home this season.
The Vikings rank seventh nationally and lead the GNAC with a .357 batting average. Alexie Levin (So., Everett) leads the conference with a .443 average (54-for-122), an on-base percentage of .489, a slugging percentage of .746 and in runs batted in with 44. She also paces the team in hits (54), doubles (13) and home runs (8), the homer total being one shy of the WWU standard.
WWU has five of the top 10 hitters in the league. Besides Levin, Meghan Carrillo (Prunedale, CA/North Monterey County) is second at .432 (38-for-88), Autumn Isaacson (Jr., Lake Stevens) fifth at .397 (52-for-131), Jordan Walley (So., Maple Valley/Tahoma) seventh at .391 (27-for-69) and Haylee Baker (Sr., Poulsbo/Bainbridge) eighth at .380 (41-for-108).
Isaacson ranks 10th nationally and tops the GNAC in stolen bases, tying the conference record with 28. She also has scored 41 runs and has not made an error in 58 chances.
Baker has scored 43 runs, her average of 1.19 ranking 17th nationally. She has driven in 42 runs with seven home runs and eight doubles, and is 16th nationally in sacrifice flies with four.
Carrillo ranks sixth nationally in toughest to strike out at 88.0.
Levin and Isaacson have each had a team-best 16 multiple-hit games this season, and Baker has had a team-leading 14 multiple-RBI contests.
Pitcher Jenna DeRosier (Sr., Kelso), who has won her last 11 decisions, is 16-3 with a 3.01 earned run average.
WWU, which led the country in double plays last season, ranks 10th this year. The Vikings are 19th nationally in runs scored (6.71) and 28th in slugging percentate (.501).
WWU has scored double-figure runs in a school-record 10 games this year.