(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings softball team (18-18, 8-7 GNAC) have played seven games over the past 20 days, they will play seven games this weekend as they face three different Great Northwest Athletic Conference Opponents from Friday, April 20 – Monday, April 23.
The Yellowjackets will travel to Oregon for a regularly scheduled series against the Western Oregon Wolves (22-20, 10-10 GNAC) in Monmouth, Ore. But first, the ‘Jackets will play in Portland, Ore. to makeup a game against Western Washington (12-26, 6-13 GNAC) at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Friday night.
Following the Saturday, Sunday series against the Wolves, MSUB will return to Portland for two Monday games against the Concordia University Cavaliers (18-20, 5-11 GNAC) starting at 11 a.m. The ‘Jackets and Cavaliers had their entire four-game series cancelled due to snow in Billings on April 7.
The Yellowjackets will play as the home team in all three of the makeup games though they will be played on Concordia’s home field.
The seven games will be crucial for the Yellowjackets’ GNAC Tournament hopes as they will only have four games remaining after the Oregon road trip. Currently, MSUB sits in thirds place with Saint Martin’s, Western Oregon and Simon Fraser all right behind them with 10-10 conference records.
“I think the team is excited and ready for this opportunity,” head coach Jessica Rayman said about the seven conference games. “This could really set us up well in the conference standings if we go out and compete each game and build off of what we’ve done over the past few weeks.”
NUMBERS AND NOTES
TRACY ON A RECORD PACE: Heather Tracy recorded another outstanding weekend against the Saints. The senior went 6-for-11 (.545) over the four games and improved her batting average to .516 this season. If she is able to keep her average above .511, she will set a new Great Northwest Athletic Conference record for single-season average. With 11 games left, she is also on track to break her own MSUB hits record of 82 knocks in a season. Tracy currently has 66 hits and if she continues at her rate of 1.8 hits per game, she will collect 87 hits this season. Those are not the only numbers she is chasing down, with 18 stolen bases this season she is just one away from tying the MSUB single-season record of 19 set by Jessica Frank in 2008. Tracy already holds the career record for steals with 57.
CASSINELLI CLOBBERS 36 (AND 37): There was no doubt about Cameron Cassinelli’s MSUB record-setting 36th career home run. The senior absolutely crushed the ball over the center field fence to deliver a walk-off win in Game 3 of the series against Saint Martin’s. In Game 4, Cassinelli delivered again with homer No. 37 bringing in two runs in a 3-2 win to take the series. In total, the MSUB first baseman drove in six of the 19 runs scored by the Yellowjackets over the weekend while going 4-for-8 with two home runs and two doubles. Cassinelli now has the eighth most doubles in MSUB history and the highest slugging percentage (.648) of batters with more than 300 at-bats as a Yellowjacket.
PITCHING PROPELLS SERIES WIN: While Cassinelli and Tracy went to work with their bats, the Yellowjackets’ pitching tandem of Maddy Lincoln and Megan Dettling gave the Saints all they could handle from the circle. The ‘Jackets allowed just 11 runs over the four games and just seven runs over their three wins. In Game 3, Lincoln threw her third complete game shutout of the season in a 1-0 win. It was the second shutout of a conference opponent this season following a 10-0 win over Simon Fraser. The ‘Jackets last record two shutouts over GNAC schools in 2013 when they held Northwest Nazarene scoreless twice and shutout Central Washington once. Dettling was 2-0 on the weekend and recorded her fifth outing of the season with seven or more strikeouts in the Game 4 victory.
“Maddy and Megan have both been huge for us,” Rayman said of her pitchers’ performances. “It was really impressive to see Maddy bounce back after a tough outing on Saturday and I think she is getting to see a new side of herself as she continues to improve. She and Megan have done an excellent job of finding ways to defeat batters.”
BACK AT .500: With an 18-18 record and a 7-3 mark over the past 10 games, the Yellowjackets have a .500 record for the first time since March 10, when they were 10-10 to start the series against Central Washington. MSUB has won seven of their last eight games and boast a 42-21 run differential over the stretch. The MSUB defense had their best weekend of the season last week as they committed just one error over four games.
FOLLOW: All MSUB home games as well as GNAC road contests will be available through the MSUB Stretch Internet Portal.
Western Washington University Vikings
Friday, April 20, 2018 | 6 PM| Porter Park
2018 Record: 12-26, 6-13 GNAC
Head Coach: Amy Suiter (8th Season)
2017 Record: 34-19, 19-9 GNAC (2nd Place)
The Vikings are coming off of an 11-day break after dropping two games to Saint Martin’s at home on April 9. Western Washington is 3-7 in their past 10 games including three loses to the Yellowjackets in Billings. The ‘Jackets are now 41-29 all-time against WWU and have gotten the better of 11 neutral matchups 6-5.
The Vikings’ offense has a league-low .251 batting average while their 3.75 ERA is tied for the third lowest in the GNAC. While getting hits has been a problem for WWU, extra base hits have not been scarce. The Vikings are fourth in the conference with 22 home runs and tied for fifth with 43 doubles. Western Washington hit four home runs in the three games in Billings earlier this season.
Shearyna Labasan leads the team with a .405 batting average that ranks fourth in the conference. She hit one of her two home runs on the season in Billings and has team-best 10 doubles. Paityn Cyr leads the Vikings with six home runs on the season ranking fifth in the conference.
Labasan is also the teams’ top pitcher with a 3.36 era, however her lack of run support has resulted in a 5-13 record this season. WWU’s offense averages 3.28 runs per game and has scored two or fewer runs in 16 games this season. The Vikings are 0-22 when their opponent scores the first run of the game this season.
Western Oregon University Wolves
Saturday, April 21, 2018 | 12 PM & 2 PM| WOU Softball Field
Sunday, April 22, 2018 | 12 PM & 2 PM| WOU Softball Field
2018 Record: 22-20, 10-10 GNAC
Head Coach: Lonny Sargent (6th Season)
2017 Record: 29-24, 14-14 GNAC (4th Place)
The Wolves are coming off of a split against the Concordia Cavaliers last weekend with each team winning two games. WOU had an impressive four-game winning streak at the end of March when they took three games from Central Washington before winning their first game against Saint Martin’s. The Wolves are 4-6 over their last 10 games and 3-3 at home this season.
The all-time series between the ‘Jackets and the Wolves is tied 30-30 with each team holding a significant edge at home. MSUB is 11-20 when visiting Monmouth, Ore. and lost all four games in their most recent visit in 2016. The Yellowjackets won 3 of 4 games last season in Billings.
Tyler Creach and Ryanne Huffman hit .423 and .404 respectively for the Wolves and the team has a .300 cumulative batting average. Huffman is second in the GNAC with five triples this season and the Wolves have a league-leading 18 triples on the year. Cheyanne Rimer and Zoe Clark each have 26 runs batted in with Clark collecting a league-leading eight home runs this season.
Lizzet Dominguez is the ace of the WOU staff with a 3.30 ERA and an 11-4 record in 99.2 innings. Haley Fabian leads the team in appearances (20) and starts (15) while holding an 8-7 record and a 4.15 ERA.
Concordia University Cavaliers
Monday, April 23, 2018 | 11 AM & 1 PM| Porter Park
2018 Record: 18-20, 5-11 GNAC
Head Coach: Shelley Whitaker (2nd Season)
2017 Record: 19-28, 11-17 GNAC (6th Place)
The Cavaliers will play four home games against Northwest Nazarene on Friday and Saturday before their Monday doubleheader against the ‘Jackets. Concordia had been on a five-game losing streak before the series with the Yellowjackets was canceled and split four games against Western Oregon last weekend.
The ‘Jackets are 5-5 all-time against the Cavaliers and 3-1 when visiting Porter Park, the site of Monday’s games. Last year the ‘Jackets scored 40 runs over four games in Portland including a 15-3 victory.
Macy Besuyen is the teams’ leading hitter with a .373 batting average, five doubles and six triple this season. She leads the Cavaliers with 29 runs scored and has stolen eight bases this season. Four other Concordia hitters have a batting average at or above .300 this season. Elena Cook is hitting .346 with a team-high four home runs and 17 RBI. The Cavs’ have only hit 11 home runs as a team this season compared to 12 triples and 51 doubles.
McKenzie Smith leads the Cavaliers from the circle with a 2.89 ERA and a 7-5 record in 17 starts. Smith has 70 strikeouts this season against 41 walks while holding opponents to a .244 average. Samantha Byron is second on the team with nine starts this season and a 4-4 record with a 3.31 ERA.