SPOKANE, Wash. - After sealing a three-peat of the outright regular season Northwest Conference Championship against Linfield last Sunday, the #24 Whitworth softball team will host the conference tournament at Diana Marks Field the weekend of April 21-23 and square off against George Fox in the first game of the postseason at noon on Friday. Games will begin at noon each day.
#1 Whitworth and #4 George Fox will play first, followed by #3 Pacific Lutheran and #2 Linfield at 2:30 p.m. Click here for the official tournament website.
The winner of the conference tournament will earn an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Softball Tournament.
Check the online Whitworth softball schedule for live links to all of this weekend's games.
The Pirates: Entering the last weekend of conference play against Linfield, the Pirates had a slight advantage over the Wildcats for first in the NWC. Whitworth dropped game one 5-0 before coming back in game two with 4-1 win. Linfield needed a clean sweep on Sunday to edge the Pirates for the NWC crown, but a combined five RBIs from Michelle Silva (3) and Shannon Wessel (2) saved game four for Whitworth, earning the title of 2017 Northwest Conference Regular Season Champions. Silva, after batting .200 through the first three games, came back to go 3-4 with three RBIs and a run in game four.
The Ace: In her final postseason as a Pirate, Perez enters atop the Northwest Conference in wins (20) and ERA 1.63. She has posted a 20-3 record with three saves in 28 appearances and 16 complete games. She has recorded a NWC third-ranked 71 strikeouts and given up 35 earned runs in 150.1 innings. From the batter's box she has racked up 31 hits on 98 at bats (.316) and driven in 19 RBIs.
The Wall: The rest of the Whitworth defense has recorded a .973 fielding percentage with only 33 errors on the season. At shortstop, Tessa Matthews has 72 putouts, 110 assists and only eight errors. Opponents have racked up 56 errors and a .954 fielding percentage against the Pirates while giving up 67 more hits and 83 more runs.
The Muscle: Wessel, Kinsey McNaught, and Myranda Ramirez have combined for 147 hits on 373 at bats for a .396 batting average as the top three hitters for the Pirates. In addition, Wessel has batted in 36 runs and launched five home runs for the Whitworth offense. Wessel and Silva are tied for team-high runs scored with 34 apiece. Silva (47-127, .370) leads the team and the conference with 42 RBIs. She has smashed seven home runs in addition to 10 doubles and a pair of triples.
Three Peat: After winning their first conference championship in school-history in 2015, the Pirates stayed hot, taking the 2016 and now the 2017 regular season conference title. The Pirates have combined for a conference record of 64-20 over the last three seasons as well as a 92-35 overall mark.
After splitting 2-2 with the Pirates last weekend, Linfield finished second in the NWC at 21-7 (32-8). Cheyenne Fletcher leads the team with a batting average of .448 (60-134) with 40 runs and 32 RBIs. Shelby Saylors has posted a 16-4 record from the mound with 15 complete games, recording 82 strikeouts and giving up only 39 earned runs.
Pacific Lutheran outlasted George Fox for third-place in the conference with a 16-12 record (20-14). The Lutes won the first three games against Puget Sound and held on to the third spot despite a game four loss. They are lead by Anna Overland who is batting .397 (46-116) and has driven in 38runs and scored 22 times. She has been struck out ten times and walked three times.
Whitworth's first opponent and #4 seed George Fox enters the postseason at 19-15 (15-13 NWC). The Bruins finished the season with a split against Lewis & Clark, earning a trip to the NWC tournament with a three game lead over fifth-place finisher Willamette. Annie Veatch leads the team, batting .377 with 40 hits on 106 at bats with 28 RBIs and only eight strikeouts.
The Coach: Assisted by Randy Clark and Bob Castle, head coach Cristal Brown enters her sixth season at the helm of the program. Brown holds a 161-92 record through five seasons. Brown has had 22 players earn All-NWC recognition and 11 honored as All-Region performers. In her consecutive seasons leading the team to Northwest Conference titles (2015-2017), Brown and the Pirates have a combined record of 64-20.