(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – With four more regular season games remaining, the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (21-22, 11-11 GNAC) will host the Northwest Nazarene Nighthawks (26-19, 17-7 GNAC) for a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday at Avitus Group Stadium. Friday’s games will start at 1 p.m. while Saturday is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start.
On Saturday, the ‘Jackets will celebrate senior day with Heather Tracy, Cameron Cassinelli, Megan Dettling, Myrissa Prince, Amanda Barham and Jessica Bagnell. All six seniors have been with the Yellowjackets for four years and their class has compiled 82 wins at MSUB. The ceremony will be held in-between games.
The ‘Jackets are 53-14 all-time against Northwest Nazarene and 26-2 against the Nighthawks in Billings. Over the past two seasons the series has been much more even with the teams splitting eight games 4-4. When NNU visited Billings in 2016, the ‘Jackets won 3-of-4 games scoring eight or more runs in all three victories.
PLAYOFF PUSH: The Yellowjackets are currently in a three-way tie for the fourth and final GNAC Tournament spot with Western Oregon and Simon Fraser. All three teams have .500 records in conference. If the teams all remain tied after the weekend, it would go to a head-to-head tie breaker. With the ‘Jackets having spit four games against both the Wolves and the Clan it would then go to the teams’ record against current first-place Northwest Nazarene. WOU and SFU each lost 3-of-4 games to the Nighthawks making it even more crucial for MSUB to win at least two games this weekend.
NUMBERS AND NOTES
TRACY ON THE SPOT: After 43 games this season, it will all come down to the final handful of plate appearances for senior Heather Tracy. She is currently fourth in Division II with a .513 batting average which would also qualify as the highest single-season batting average in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history passing Danielle Monson’s mark of .511 in 2010. It is almost a sure thing that Tracy will break the school record for batting average, which is currently .463 by Rachel Quarnberg. Tracy has totaled 80 hits this season, just three short of breaking her own MSUB single-season record of 82 last season. On Monday, Tracy became the first Yellowjacket to ever hit four triples in a season and she also set a new single-season steals record (21) while in Oregon. Tracy is within range of the single-season runs record as she has scored 46 times this season. The career-high 46 runs ranks Tracy fourth all-time behind two ‘Jackets with 47-run seasons and five shy of Bella Rovens’ 2015 record of 51. Another MSUB record that Tracy has in her reach is the single-season total base mark of 116 (Stephanie Gosselin ’09), with the right fielder just need five bases to surpass the record.
Already holding MSUB Career records in hits (268), triples (10), stolen bases (60) and total bases (377), Tracy will likely add three more career marks to her Yellowjacket resume. With four games scheduled, she will pass Rovens’ records for games played and starts. Tracy is just two games short of the 190 record and three starts short of Rovens’ 187. She is also tied with Rovens with 622 at-bats ranking first in MSUB history. The Boise, Idaho native will finish fourth in RBIs as she currently has 111 and will likely finish ninth in home runs (21), just two short of a tie for seventh.
CASSINELLI SENDS IT: Last time Cameron Cassinelli played in Billings, she hit her MSUB-career record setting 36th home run. In the series against Saint Martin’s the left-handed slugger went 4-for-8 at the plate with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs. She added two more home runs in the series against Western Oregon and now has 39 career dingers. Her 155 career-RBIs also leads all Yellowjacket players and she is second only to Tracy in total bases with 319 over her four years. She has the eighth-best career batting average (.352) in MSUB history and ranks third in on-base (.440) and slugging percentage (.665). Read more about Casssinelli’s flair in and out of the batter’s box in this week’s MSUB Feature: Cam Bam.
DETTLING DOES IT ALL: Megan Dettling hit her 20th career home run on a grand slam against Western Oregon last weekend. The 20 round trippers makes Dettling the first-ever Yellowjacket to have 20 home runs and 20 wins in a career. The senior is fifth all-time in career strikeouts with 320 including 107 batters struck out looking, the second-most by a Yellowjacket. Dettling has thrown 31 complete games in her career while holding a .333 batting average, with a .366 on-base percentage and slugging .569 at the plate.
BARHAM BREAKS OUT: Over seven games in Oregon, senior Amanda Barham hit two home runs, one triple, a double and a single. The homers were the first of her career with the first coming on her 299th at-bat. After battling injuries throughout her MSUB tenure, Barham has started all 43 games this season while putting up career highs in hits (39), doubles (5), triples (2), RBI (13) and runs (32). She is hitting .281 this season and sporting the lowest strikeout rate of her career while drawing 13 walks.
PRINCE’S POST: For the third consecutive season, Myrissa Prince has started more than 40 games for the Yellowjackets. Playing second base, Prince is 15th all-time with a .957 fielding percentage and fourth all-time with 244 career assists. She has turned 19 double plays for the ‘Jackets and will be tied for the fifth-most in a career with just one more. She is a career .293 batter with 11 home runs and 73 career RBI.
BAGS: Jessica Bagnell, known to her teammates as Bags, played three seasons for the Yellowjackets after redshirting during the 2015 season. The shortstop started 74 games for the ‘Jackets recording 117 assists and 112 put outs. Bagnell recorded the first three-hit game of her career this season against Hawaii Hilo. She finished the game 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the win.
LINCOLN FINDING HER STRIDE: Sophomore pitcher Maddy Lincoln has settled in as one of the top pitchers in the GNAC this season. She ranks seventh in the league in ERA (3.31) while throwing the most innings of any pitcher in the conference this season. She has 93 strikeouts this season, surpassing her total of 72 as a freshman and just eight away from becoming the 10th pitcher to record a 100 strikeouts season in MSUB history. Over her past six starts, Lincoln has worked 39 of 41 possible innings while striking out 24 batters and walking six. Her ERA over that stretch is 2.15.
SLUGGING IT OUT: This weekend’s matchup features the two most powerful offenses in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Yellowjackets lead the league in home runs with 46 and slugging percentage at .478. The Nighthawks are second in each category as they have 35 homers this season while slugging .472. NNU leads the league in batting average (.321) with the ‘Jackets tied for second at .306. The Nighthawks do have a tendency to hit doubles while the ‘Jackets have one more triple than the Nampa, Idaho squad this season. Cassinelli’s nine home runs lead the league with Dettling and Brittanee Fisher close behind with eight apiece. NNU’s Anna Williams has seven homers to lead the ‘Hawks. The Yellowjackets hit five home runs in a game against Western Oregon last weekend. It was the second time this season the team has gone yard five times in a game, tying a school record. NNU has only hit more than two home runs on two occasions this season and are 1-1 in such games. This weekend’s games could have quick swings in momentum and leads with the amount of power coming to the plate for each lineup.
Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks
Friday, April 27, 2018 | 1 P.M. Doubleheader | Avitus Group Stadium
Saturday, April 28, 2018 | 12 P.M. Doubleheader | Avitus Group Stadium
2018 Record: 26-19, 17-7 GNAC
Head Coach: Rich Wagner (6th Season)
2017 Record: 23-27, 13-15 GNAC
The Nighthawks have won their past six games and are 9-1 in their last 10 contests as they have found their stride late in the season. Northwest Nazarene has the top batting average in the league at .321 and the second most home runs with 35. The team scores nearly six runs a game while their pitchers sport a combined ERA of 3.53.
Freshman Jordan Adams has won her last eight decisions in the circle and sports a GNAC-leading 1.40 ERA in 125.1 innings this season. She is 16-5 this season with a league-high 117 strikeouts including three games with 10 or more strikeouts this season. Adams also leads the conference with a .200 opponent batting average. Rae Young (4-7, 5.85 ERA) has the second most starts for the Nighthawks with 12.
Kylie Orr and Brittany Genuardi rank first and second in the GNAC with 39 and 36 RBIs respectively. Genuardi is second on the team with a .366 batting average behind Cassidy Fifield’s .374 average. The ‘Hawks lineup is deep with seven batters hitting above .300 with over 100 plate appearances each.