BY JULIA SANDERSON, Staff Reporter
The Central Washington University softball team swept its weekend series against Simon Fraser University and Western Washington University last weekend, improving to 11-4 overall and 4-0 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
Central came out strong against Simon Fraser and won the first game of the doubleheader 9-1 in five innings behind a strong pitching performance by senior Maria Gau.
In the second game Central struck late, winning the contest 7-5.
The games against Simon Fraser were the conference openers. While the Wildcats won their first four games in the conference, Simon Fraser remained winless at 0-13 on the season and 0-4 in the GNAC.
In the first game, Gau earned her fifth win of the season, pitching all five innings of the contest while allowing six hits and striking out five batters.
“Went out wanting to make sure that I hit my pitches and hit my spots well and kept the ball moving throughout the whole game,” Gau said. “It was nice that we got it done in five innings and didn’t have to throw as many. It kept the pitch count down.”
Senior second baseman Jill McDaniels went 3-for-4 with two RBIs including a run-scoring double in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sophomore outfielder Remy Bradley went 2-for-3 and scored three runs in the contest.
“It’s our first league game and everyone wanted to come out and make a statement. We did,” McDaniels said. “We scored every inning and I think that took a real team effort to do so.”
In the first inning, Central scored two runs on an RBI single by sophomore catcher Austin Wilkerson, followed by Bradley scoring from third base when Simon Fraser tried throwing out Wilkerson as she stole second.
Simon Fraser scored its only run in the third inning on a run scoring double by Danielle Raison.
In game two, the Wildcats started out behind after Simon Fraser scored three of its runs in the top of the second inning. Central remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning. They scored its first run on an RBI groundout by freshman outfielder Sammy Morris.
Simon Fraser scored two more times in the fifth inning taking a 5-1 lead. Central answered right back by scoring three runs of its own in the bottom half of the fifth inning.
Senior first baseman Maikala Galusha, sophomore third baseman Alexa Olagu and freshman pitcher Kiana Wood all ended up driving in runs in the inning as the Wildcats cut the deficit to 5-4.
The next inning Central added three more runs, the biggest on a double by Galusha with two outs that scored the tying run. The very next play the Wildcats took advantage of a Simon Fraser error that led to two runners crossing the plate, which gave the Wildcats the final 7-5 lead.
On Sunday the Wildcats faced another doubleheader. This time against rival Western Washington University. The softball team added some excitement to the games, winning both with walk off hits winning game one 5-4 and game two 4-3.
Game one the Wildcats trailed 4-3 heading into the seventh inning.
Freshman first baseman Kailyn Campbell hit a single that scored Morris from third base to give the Wildcats the 5-4 victory.
Gau earned her sixth win of the season, pitching all seven innings, giving up seven hits and four runs, while striking out seven Vikings in the game.
“Maria is Maria, she comes out every day, she knows what she needs to do and she comes out with a game face,” head coach Mallory Holtman-Fletcher said. “You know when her stuff is on it makes her one of the best pitchers, if not the best pitcher in the conference.”
In game two, Galusha drove in the winning run on a double to right centerfield, scoring Bradley who led the inning off with a infield single.
“I’ve always told myself that the last bat is the one that matters,” Galusha said. “Taking opportunities to bring in runners when I could. I felt like I accomplished my job. It was a great feeling.”
In the second game, Central did the majority of its scoring in the first inning. Galusha laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners and McDaniels drove in both players with a single through the left side of the field. Four batters later, junior outfielder Katie Focher drove in a run on a single to give the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage in the first inning.
Western answered back. First baseman Alexie Levin tied up the game 3-3 with a two-run homerun in the fourth inning, followed by a hit in the sixth inning.
In the seventh inning Central won the game 4-3 as Bradley singled to lead off the inning, and after a line out by freshman short stop Taylor Ferleman, Galusha came to the plate and finished the game with a walk-off double.
“Feels great,” Holtman-Fletcher said. “You know when you sweep any conference opponent it’s a good feeling. There is something about Western and something about the fact that every coach on our staff is an alumni and its kind of ingrained in you that Western is who come to play that’s your big game and to get two wins.”
Wood earned her fifth win of the season throwing all seven innings and striking out six batters.
The softball team will face Montana State Billing in a four game series at home starting Saturday, March 15 and continue on Sunday, March 16. The first game will start at noon on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.