by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After four straight weeks away from home to begin the year, Whitworth softball will play its first home games of the 2018 campaign this weekend against Pacific Lutheran.
The Bucs take on the Lutes on March 17-18. Games on both days will begin at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Fans can follow the team using video and live statistics links on the Whitworth softball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (10-8, 3-3 NWC) comes in to its matchups with the Lutes in third place in the NWC standings, trailing George Fox, Linfield, and Pacific (Ore.). Last weekend, the Pirates won three of the four games against Puget Sound. Three timely runs earned a game one win over the Loggers, but the Bucs bats fell silent in a shutout loss later that afternoon. Kinsey McNaught led Whitworth to a pair of bounce back wins on Sunday, going 5-7 on the day with three runs and two RBIs.
Winner, Winner: Madelyn Carlson is already establishing herself as one of the best pitchers in the NWC. Carlson ranks second in the conference in strikeouts (39) and third in wins (8) and ERA (1.77). Her 8 victories also place Carlson 5th in the nation.
Making Hay(es): After taking a year off from softball to focus on her Nursing degree, Chelsey Hayes is taking advantage of another opportunity to play for the Bucs. The junior first baseman leads Whitworth with a .426 batting average and her 26 hits rank 16th in the nation.
Super Silva: Michelle Silva earned First Team All-NWC honors last season by leading the team in home runs (7), RBIs (42), and stolen bases (17). She also batted .374 from the cleanup spot. This season, Silva is again one of the best hitters in the Whitworth lineup, batting .306 and slugging .472
Center of Attention: After being named the inaugural Northwest Conference Freshman of the Year, Kinsey McNaught is moving from right field to center. Last season, McNaught finished with a .983 fielding percentage in right field, totaling 52 putouts and 6 assists. She also contributed a .381 batting average with 32 runs scored as the leadoff hitter.
Triple the Fun: Whitworth's offense has been aided by an excess of three-base hits this season. The Bucs lead the NWC in triples with six, all by different players.
The Lutes: Pacific Lutheran (8-10, 3-5 NWC) enters its weekend in Spokane in sixth place in the NWC. Last weekend, the Lutes dropped three of their four games with Pacific (Ore.), winning the first game of the series before losing the next three. Kennedy Robillard leads PLU's offense with a .483 batting average, which is second best in the NWC. Anna Overland provides most of the Lutes' power, leading the team in home runs and RBIs. Marissa Miller is Pacific Lutheran's ace in the circle. She comes in to the weekend with a 3.99 ERA and 4.17 strikeouts per 7 innings.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates' home stand continues against Willamette on March 24-25.
The Coach: Over her first six years as head coach of the Pirates, Cristal Brown has turned Whitworth into a perennial Northwest Conference championship contender. Through her first six years Brown has compiled a 166-95 record with three NWC regular season championships (2015-17), one NWC tournament title (2017), and two appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament (2016-17). Brown is also a two-time NWC Coach of the Year (2016-17). She is assisted by Associate Head Coach Randy Clark and Assistant Coaches Bob Castle and Jamie Brunner.