BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Western Washington University softball team will travel to Cal State Monterey Bay for the NCAA Division II Softball Championship West Regional starting Thursday.
The NCAA Division II Softball Committee selected the 64 teams that will participate in the 2017 NCAA Division II Softball Championship, with four teams participating at each of the 16 regional sites in double-elimination tournaments, held May 11-13 (Thursday-Saturday). Winners will advance to the super regionals, slated for May 18-19, and the finals will be held May 25- 29 at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia.
WWU (33-17) is coming off a 3-0 sweep through the GNAC Tournament and will be the No. 8 seed in the West Region. The Vikings will face top-seeded and regional host Cal State Monterey Bay (43-11) at 2:30 pm on Thursday at the Otter Sports Complex in Seaside, California. No. 4 seed Dixie State (39-12) will play No. 5 seed Sonoma State (36-18) in the first game of the regional at noon on Thursday. The full regional bracket for the double-elimination tournament is outlined below.
“We are more than excited to be in this spot and honored to represent our school on the national stage,” said head coach Amy Suiter, in her 7th season leading the Vikings. “They are playing great on the field and have really come together as a team. We are overall pretty young, as the season went on, they became more and more confident in who they are as a team and have put it all together.”
The other half of the West Region bracket will be played in Chico, California and features No. 3 seed Humboldt State (38-13) playing No. 7 seed California Baptist (36-11) at noon on Thursday. Regional host No. 3 seed Chico State (37-16) hosts Cal State San Bernardino (37-19) at 2:30 pm.
This is the Vikings fourth trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament, and the first since 2011. WWU ended the season on 11-game winning streak, the second-longest active winning streak in Division II, and won 18 of its final 22 games. The 33 wins are tied for 3rd-most in the 25-year history of the program.
Freshman pitcher Anna Kasner (Milton, WA/Fife) dominated the GNAC Tournament going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA, allowing only one unearned run in 19.2 innings pitched to earn tournament MVP honors. The GNAC co-Pitcher of the Year is 15-5 on the season with a 2.29 ERA (44 ER, 134.2 IP) and amongst the national leaders in strikeouts (176), strikeouts per 7.0 innings (9.15) and shutouts (6).
Junior first baseman Emily Benson (West Richland, WA/Kamiakin) and junior third baseman Makinlee Sellevold (Everett, WA/Cascade) anchor the offense that overall is batting .314 on the season. Benson is batting .432 (60-for-139) with 12 home runs and 37 RBI, and is amongst the nation’s leaders in on-base percentage (6th, .556) and slugging percentage (28th, .763). Sellevold has set WWU’s single-season record with 51 RBI (41 in last 22 games) and has recorded a team-high 22 extra-base hits.
The Vikings also feature the top defense in the GNAC with a .963 fielding percentage, heading into the postseason with a string of four consecutive errorless games and made only 14 errors over the last 18 games.
Suiter has led the Vikings now to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in her seven seasons at the helm of the program. She has an overall head coaching record of 210-203 (.508) with a 195-161 (.548) mark at Western.
Here is a look at the West Regional teams:
West 1 Regional at Seaside, California
1. Cal State Monterey Bay* (43-11)
2. Dixie State (39-12)
3. Sonoma State (36-18)
4. Western Washington (33-17)
West 2 Regional at Chico, California
1. Humboldt State (38-13)
2. Chico State* (37-16)
3. Cal State San Bernardino (37-19)
4. California Baptist (36-11)
And the complete West Regional schedule hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay:
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