(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(MSU Billings release)

BILLINGS – Putting a cap on the best start to a season in program history, the 4-1 Montana State University Billings softball team swept Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday. Right fielder Heather Tracy was named GNAC Player of the Week and Maddy Lincoln was named GNAC Pitcher of the Week after the ‘Jackets opening weekend at the Desert Stinger in Las Vegas, Nev. Both players were named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Megan Dettling.

“I think it is great for our team to have both the player and pitcher of the week after our first weekend,” head coach Jessica Rayman said of the ‘Jackets sweeping the weekly honors. “Our entire team was consistent and Heather and Maddy are a big part of that. It is still early so we just need to keep building off of what we’ve started.”

Lincoln finished the weekend 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA in five appearances. In her first outing of the season the sophomore went the distance as she pitched five-scoreless innings of one-hit softball in the Yellowjackets’ 14-0 win over the University of Mary. That very same evening, the left-handed pitcher recorded her second win of the season after 1.2 innings of relief. Starter, Megan Dettling hit a walk-off home run to give Lincoln her second win of the day 8-6 over the Academy of Art.

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She picked up her third win of the weekend with 3.2 innings of relief against Colorado Christian on Saturday giving Lincoln four decisions in as many games to start the season. She finished the weekend pitching a team-high 16.1 innings while striking out 12 and allowing 11 hits and three earned runs. Lincoln led the Yellowjackets with eight wins last season.

“Maddy really stepped up for us,” Rayman said of the sophomore’s performance. “Even last year she just has that attitude where she is ready to go when we need her. For a pitcher to win three game in a weekend is almost unheard of.”

Tracy was a force batting second in the Yellowjacket lineup throughout the weekend as she collected a league-best 11 hits and scored 11 runs. She had a breakout performance in the fourth game of the tournament when she hit three home runs in an 8-5 win over Colorado Christian. The trio of blasts ties Dettling’s school-record for most homers in a single game from last season.

The right fielder finished the weekend 11-for-20 at the plate with three home runs, seven RBI, three stolen bases and a conference leading 1.000 slugging percentage. She is just one hit away from becoming the third player in MSUB history to record 200 hits in a career and 17 away from becoming the all-time hits leader in the program’s existence.

“Heather saw the ball well all weekend and has been extremely consistent,” Rayman said of the star senior. “She timed the pitcher up perfectly against Colorado Christian and just made solid contact all game. I am excited to see what she can accomplish this season.”

This is Tracy’s second player of the week honor after grabbing the distinction as a junior last season.

The ‘Jackets will remain in Vegas for a doubleheader against Hawaii Hilo (4-1) on Tuesday with games starting a 12 p.m. Pacific time.

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