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Shealyn Hafer, Brooks Zimmer earn GNAC honors for MSU Billings

Posted at 3:53 PM, Mar 18, 2019
Shealyn Hafer is named the GNAC Women’s Golf Player of the Week after shooting a career-low 73. (MSUB Athletics photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Senior golfer Shealyn Hafer and baseball freshman Brooks Zimmer are GNAC athletes of the week in their respective sports, the conference announced Monday.

Hafer notched a personal best score of 73 in the opening round of the Winona State Warrior Invitational last week in Las Vegas, which was good enough to earn the Montana State University Billings women’s golfer the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week award announced by the conference office Monday.

Hafer had a tournament-high six birdies during her best-ever collegiate round, as she was 1-over-par on the par-72 5,929-yard Stallion Mountain Golf Course. “It is great to see Shea recognized for her solid performance,” said MSUB head coach Jeff Allen. “Shooting a career low in her third round of the spring shows how hard she worked on her game during the winter. She will continue to get better this spring and I am excited for her in her senior season.”

Hafer shook off a slow start to her round, as she bogeyed two of her first four holes of the day. The senior peaked around the turn, as she carded three straight birdies on holes nine-through 11 and played holes nine-through-14 at 4-under par. “I didn’t start well, but I kept my composure and really came back on my back-nine,” Hafer said after her round. “I struggled off the tee, but Jeff has been working with us on the greens a lot and I feel like that paid off today.”

Hafer saved the most strokes around the greens, needing just one putt on 11 of her 18 holes. She played the four par-3 holes at 1-under par, and the four par-5 holes at even-par as well.

It was the best individual round by a Yellowjacket player this season, and Hafer bettered her top mark of 75 which she had achieved on two prior occasions. The two-time all-conference selection leads the Yellowjackets with a scoring average of 80.2 strokes per round in 2018-19.

This is the first-career GNAC Player of the Week honor for Hafer, and the first of the 2018-19 season for the Yellowjacket women. MSUB is next in action at the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational, scheduled for April 5-6 at Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear, Arizona.

Freshman Brooks Zimmer becomes the first player in MSUB history and just the fourth in GNAC history to record three saves in a weekend series. (MSUB Athletics photo)

Zimmer became the first player in Montana State University Billings baseball history and just the fourth in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history to record three saves in a weekend series, and was named the conference pitcher of the week announced on Monday.

The true freshman right-hander helped the Yellowjackets (7-13, 7-5 GNAC) to a 3-1 series win over Central Washington University and pitched in all three victories. “Brooks pitched in some big innings this weekend, and gave us much-needed stability in the late innings,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “He showed he wanted the rock, and really helped the club get the series win.”

Zimmer’s weekend started on Saturday, when he took the ball in the top of the sixth inning and the ‘Jackets leading the Wildcats 9-8. After giving up a leadoff single, Zimmer retired the next six batters he faced including four strikeouts to lock down the two-inning save.

Zimmer started off the eighth inning in Game 1 on Sunday, with the ‘Jackets holding on to a 5-3 lead. He issued just one baserunner on a walk, but once again closed the door to earn his second straight six-out save.

He was summoned a second time on Sunday, with the ‘Jackets clinging to a 2-1 lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning in Game 2. The freshman showed the slightest hint of fatigue with a pair of walks, but then struck out the Wildcats’ Justin Hampson to end the game and seal the series victory for the ‘Jackets.

With his final save of the weekend, Zimmer became the first player in MSUB history to notch three saves in a single four-game series. The feat has only been achieved four times in GNAC history, with the last to do it being Kody Stone of Western Oregon on March 23-24, 2013.

Among the four players to achieve the feat, Zimmer threw the most innings (4.1) and racked up the most strikeouts (6). Although McDonald’s and Wilson’s teams each won their series 4-0, neither pitcher had a fourth save opportunity as no player in conference history has saved four games in a weekend.

Also of note was a three-save week for Brad Foss of Northwest Nazarene, who notched two saves on Tuesday, March 5, 2002 against Eastern Oregon and added another on Friday, March 8, 2002 in a win over Albertson.

Zimmer’s big effort helped the Yellowjackets jump the Wildcats and move into second place in the GNAC standings. The freshman now has four saves on the season, with 14 strikeouts in 14.0 innings pitched and a 3.21 earned run average over the course of seven appearances. Zimmer is now just three saves away from tying the modest MSUB single-season record of seven, held by Brian Howe (2011).

This marks the third straight week the ‘Jackets have had a GNAC Player of the Week and the second straight Pitcher of the Week for MSUB. Daniel Cipriano claimed GNAC and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Player of the Week on March 5, before Conner Linebarger and Dylan Barkley were named the GNAC Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively last weekend.

MSUB plays at Saint Martin’s University this weekend with a four-game series scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Lacey, Washington. Live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available for all four games through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal online.