(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(MSU Billings release)

LAS VEGAS – As snow falls in Billings the Montana State University Billings’ softball team (4-1) will remain in Las Vegas, Nev. for a doubleheader against the University of Hawaii Hilo (4-1) on Tuesday. First pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m. Pacific time with the second game to follow at 2:00 p.m. (PST).

Both teams are coming off of five games at the ninth annual Desert Stinger hosted by the Yellowjackets at Majestic Park, the site of Tuesday’s matchup. Three Yellowjackets were named to the all-tournament team with Heather Tracy and Megan Dettling representing the MSUB offense and Maddy Lincoln getting the nod for excellence in the circle. Hilo’s third baseman Bailey Gaspar was also named to the all-tournament team.

Tracy and Lincoln were named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player and Pitcher of the Week respectively after their stellar opening weekends. It is the second time Tracy has received the honor in her career and the first time Lincoln, a sophomore, has earned the distinction.

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NUMBERS AND NOTES

TRACY’S TRIFECTA: Heather Tracy is off to a blazing start this season as she leads the ‘Jackets in hits (11), runs (11), stolen bases (3) and home runs (3). The senior hit a MSUB-record tying three homers in the 8-5 win over Colorado Christian on Saturday as she went long in three consecutive plate appearances in the second, fourth and sixth inning. The three home run mark tied Dettling’s performance from last season against the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs when she hit three homers in four plate appearances with a four-pitch walk in-between her second and third long ball.

The stolen bases are no surprise for Tracy with the right fielder already holding the all-time record for swipes in an MSUB career. She now has 42 steals on 51 attempts in her three-plus seasons with the ‘Jackets. With 11 hits over the weekend, the senior now has 199 career knocks just 16 away from Bella Rovens’ MSUB-record 215 in a career. Her next hit will make her the third player in program history to reach 200 behind Rovens and Terina Stacks (2006-09).

THREE FOR MADDY: Sophomore pitcher Maddy Lincoln (3-1, 1.29 ERA) became the fastest Yellowjacket to record three wins in school history on Saturday as she earner three victories in the first four games of the season. Lincoln recorded a five-inning, one-hit shutout in the 14-0 win over Mary to start the season and earned her second win after 1.2 innings of relief when starting pitcher Megan Dettling (0-0, 4.94) blasted a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth against the Academy of Art. Her third win also came in relief as she logged 3.2 innings allowing two hits and no earned runs in the 8-5 win over Colorado Christian. In total, Lincoln pitched 16.1 innings while appearing in all five games and allowing just 11 hits and striking out 12 over the weekend.

The mark bests MSUB Hall of Famer Joey Ehnes’ three wins in five games from 2005. That season, Ehnes went on to set MSUB-records in wins (29), appearances (45) and innings pitched (245.1).

EARLY INDICATIONS: The Yellojackets had the best weekend of any Great Northwest Athletic Conference team to open the season as their 4-1 record sits atop the standings ahead of 3-2 Central Washington and 3-3 Western Oregon who both competed at the Desert Stinger. Simon Fraser (0-0) is the only team in the GNAC to not play at the Stinger this weekend.

With a .348 team batting average led by Dettling’s conference-best .556 average, the ‘Jackets lead the conference in hitting. They have the second lowest ERA (2.76) amongst the seven teams to compete last weekend. Freshman Haley Couch, who picked up a win after five-scoreless innings in her collegiate debut, is one of two pitchers in the conference with an ERA of 0.00. Lincoln leads all pitcher who have appeared in more than one game with her 1.29 earned run average.

Tracy is the conference leader in a bevy of categories including hits, home runs and runs scored among others. Dettling leads the GNAC with eight RBI followed by Tracy’s seven and Cameron Casssinelli with six. After hitting a home run in her first college game, freshman Brittanee Fisher has shown impressive patience while drawing four walks which is the third most in the GNAC.

In the circle, Dettling is second in the league with 14 strikeouts over 11.1 innings pitched. Lincoln is the league leader in wins and appearances. The MSUB defense has the top fielding percentage in the league .959 after committing a conference-low six errors over five games.

Eleven players got hits for MSUB over the weekend and seven ‘Jackets are hitting better than .300 after opening weekend. Dettling and lead-off hitter Amanda Barham are for the second most runs scored on the team with five apiece with each of them collecting a stolen base as well. Barham leads the team with two doubles followed by Cassinelli with one.

FRESHMEN FOUNDATION: Featuring six freshmen in the first tournament of the season, the Yellowjackets have been pleased with their early results. Both Brittanee Fisher and Allie Hughes earned the start for the first game of the season and the pair delivered. The duo combined to go 4-for-8 while driving in seven of the ‘Jackets’ 14 runs in the game. Fisher put an exclamation point on the showing with a third-inning two-run home run to left-center field to stretch the lead to 13-0.

Georgiabelle Benning appeared in all five games over the weekend after she pinch-ran in the first four games of the season and pinch-hit in the game against Cal State, Dominguez Hills. The Puyallup, Wash. native scored four runs in the tournament and was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate.

On Sunday, Haley Couch (1-0, 0.00) delivered a near perfect debut in the circle. The right-handed pitcher threw five-scoreless innings while striking out one and allowing four hits. She earned the win in her first collegiate start as the ‘Jackets defeated the Toros 8-0 in six-innings.

TRANSFERING TO THE FIELD: Both of the Yellowjackets’ junior transferred played a role in the four-win weekend with Shay Felix starting three games behind the plate and Kelsee Bushell playing shortstop and third base in three appearances. Felix was effective at the plate and in the field as she hit .375 with one home run and three RBI while also thowing out two runners from behind the plate as a catcher. Bushell finished the weekend with six assists which ranks third on the team behind Jessica Bagnell (10) and Myrissa Prince (6).

The University of Hawaii Hilo Vulcans
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 | 12 PM & 2 PM | Las Vegas, Nev.
2018 Record: 4-1
Head Coach: Callen Perreira (3rd Season)
2017 Record: 26-22

SERIES HISTORY: In 25 all-time meetings the University of Hawaii Hilo holds a 14-11 advantage over the Yellowjackets with the teams’ last meeting in 2016. The Vulcan took the last game between the squads 4-1 after the ‘Jackets had won a 3-0 contest just two days earlier as they met twice at the Dixie State Tournaments in St. George, Utah. MSUB is 11-6 away from Hawaii while the Vulcans hold a perfect 8-0 mark at home in the series.

SCOUT: The Vulcans are coming off of their only loss of the season after falling 2-1 to GNAC opponent Saint Martin’s on Sunday. They started the season with four straight wins over San Francisco State, Eastern New Mexico, Concordia (Ore.) and Sonoma State. Hilo features a high-scoring offense that racked up 44 runs in the first four games of the season before the Saints’ pitching silenced their bats on Sunday.

Third baseman Bailey Gaspar launched three home runs during the Desert Stinger while hitting .471 and driving in seven runs for the Vulcans. Isabelle Mejia pitched and played outfield during the teammate and was the second on the team in average (.417) and home runs (2) while driving in a team best nine RBI.

Cyanne Fernandez was an ace over the weekend as she finished three appearances with a 3-0 record and a 1.91 ERA over 18.1 innings. She allowed five earned runs while striking out 10 batters and giving up 13 hits. Billi Derleth (0-1, 2.00 ERA) and Leah Gonzalez (1-0, 5.00 ERA) also garnered starts along with Mejia (0-0, 8.40).

Callen Perreira is in his second stint with Hilo after coaching the Vulcans from 1990-2009 before taking a position at the College of Southern Nevada. He is the winningest coach in the history of the program with a 606-368 record at the head of the program.

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