Softball eyes GNAC title


Softball is gearing up to play in the GNAC conference tournament. CWU currently holds first place with Con- cordia University trailing in second.

Bryce Weedman, Senior Sports Reporter

On May 2, the GNAC’s top four teams will play in the conference tournament. CWU Softball finds themselves in first place with an overall record of 28-14 and a conference record of 19-5, according to the GNAC website.

Concordia University is in second place at 16-8 in the conference, and still has a shot of stealing first place away from the Wildcats. The GNAC website shows CWU has won eight out of the last 10 games in their schedule, and has outscored opponents by 35 runs. Head coach Mike Larabee said the offense is clicking and so is pitching. Led by junior Taylor Williams and sophomore Lexie Strasser, the Wildcats pitching has been a strong point for the Wildcats, according to Larabee. Williams is sporting a 3.81 earned runs average and is 6-2 in her 49.2 innings pitched. Strasser has a 3.73 earned runs average and is 13-8 in her 142.1 innings pitched, which is the highest amount of innings out of anyone on the team according to CWU athletics. Larabee has continued to tell the Wildcats they play one game at a time, and do not underestimate any opponent. Larabee said the motto for the season has been “catching excellence.”

“No one is going into these final games thinking that one team his something to worry about and the other isn’t,” Williams said. “We may be at the top, but nothing is concrete, and every game determines something.”

As the regular season is coming to a close, the Wildcats have their eye set on a GNAC title, according to senior Savannah Egbert. CWU has been in this position in previous years, but Egbert said she would like to see the team go all the way. CWU will have to beat some tough teams. According to the GNAC website, five of the eight teams in the conference have winning records. Egbert said there is more competition this year as a whole conference than in past years. CWU athletics shows that only eight of the 21 players on the roster are juniors or seniors. Egbert said that everyone’s goal is to make it as far as possible in post-season, but knows that the seniors want it so much because it’s their last year.

“We want to make it as far as we can go, and if we play at the highest level we can play, then we can definitely get there,” Egbert said. “We’ve seen the teams that are competing with us, and we are right there with all of them.”

CWU’s website says that another player who is helping the team out offensively is outfielder, junior Kayla Smith. Smith is hitting .328 batting average, 11 doubles, .416 slugging percentage, and has a .356 on base percentage.

“I’m sure all of the seniors can attest to this, but just keeping the positive energy in practices, because if you do it in practice then it carries over into games,” Smith said.

When CWU begins the first round of the GNAC tournament, it will not be played close to home, according to the GNAC website. The tournament will be played in Billings, Montana where the fences are very short compared to other fields of GNAC competitors, according to Larabee.

CWU has not been past the GNAC tournament since 2016 according to CWU athletics. That year, they made it past West Regionals and moved on to Super Regionals where they lost two games to Humboldt State and were eliminated. That year the Wildcats finished 42-17 overall and 18-10 in the GNAC. This season the Wildcats are already ahead of that pace. At 28-14 overall, and 19-5 in the conference, the Wildcats have a chance to go farther, and finish better than the 2016 team.