CWU Softball Closes 2012 with Split at Western Washington - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

CWU Softball Closes Out 2012 Season with Split at Western Washington

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By Jonathan Gordon, CWU Athletics

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (Apr. 27) -- Four different Central Washington University players had at least two hits in game one, including a 3 for 4 performance from junior Cassi Ellis (East Wenatchee, Wash./Eastmont HS), as the Wildcats defeated rival Western Washington University, 9-2, in the opening game of Friday's Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball doubleheader at Viking Field. WWU won the nightcap, 1-0.

The split was the third in as many doubleheaders, and the fourth in the past five twinbills, for Central Washington, which finished the 2012 season with a 19-29 overall record and a 15-21 mark in GNAC play. The Wildcats, who won five of seven series meetings between the two schools this season, have secured no worse than a tie for fifth place in the final conference standings. Western Washington, which has one doubleheader remaining on its schedule on Saturday, is now 17-34 overall and 13-21 in the conference.

In the opener, each team scored twice in the first inning, as CWU freshman Heidy Wells (Tacoma, Wash./Stadium HS) opened the scoring with a two-run, two-out home run to center field. Western Washington countered with a pair of runs as Krista Bickar reached on a one-out throwing error and Meghan Carrillo plated a run on a sacrifice fly.

The Wildcats erupted for six runs in the second inning against a pair of Viking pitchers, as the first six runners reached base safely and chased starter Erika Hendron (1-2) from the contest. Freshman Katie Focher (Missoula, Mont./Sentinel HS) and senior Jen Schwartz (Spokane, Wash./Shadle Park HS) each had RBI singles as part of that flurry, while senior Bre Thomas (Vancouver, Wash./Columbia River HS) walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run. Following the pitching change, junior Elena Carter (Olympia, Wash./Black Hills HS) and Wells were credited with sacrifices -- a sacrifice fly and sacrifice bunt, respectively -- to drive in runs, while Ellis capped the inning's scoring with her second single of the frame.

CWU added its final run in the top of the fourth inning, as Ellis collected her third hit -- and second RBI -- of the game with a two-out single that scored senior Carrina Wagner (Tacoma, Wash./Spanaway Lake HS). Wells made that margin stand up in the pitching circle, throwing five scoreless innings after the two-run first. Freshman Taryn Smith (Olympia, Wash./Timberline HS) threw a scoreless seventh to preserve the seven-run victory.

In addition to Ellis' three-hit game -- her fourth this season -- Wagner, Focher, and senior Natasha Wood (Graham, Wash./Graham-Kapowsin HS) added two hits apiece as CWU finished with a 12-5 edge in hits.

Game two was a different story for both teams, though, as Western Washington's Stephanie Fox held the Wildcats to just two hits and the Vikings scratched across the lone run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Jackie Rothenberger's RBI double with one out in the inning proved to be the difference as WWU accumulated three of its five hits for the game in the inning and CWU was unable to match the tally.

Sophomore Maria Gau (Woodinville, Wash.), the conference's strikeout leader who had just one K in Friday's finale, took the hard-luck loss for the Wildcats. Although it snapped a personal four-game winning streak for Gau, it marked the third time in her past four losing decisions that the Wildcat offense failed to score a run.

Thomas and Focher had the only two hits of the game as CWU did not have a runner advance past first base. Ellis and Carter also reached base on a hit by pitch and walk, respectively.

Eight Central Washington players wrapped up their collegiate careers on Friday against the rival Vikings, whom CWU defeated in five of seven meetings this season.

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