HILLSBORO, Ore. – Whitworth University won its third straight Northwest Conference regular season title but runner-up Linfield College will be going after its fifth straight league playoff crown in the Northwest Conference Softball Tournament that is set for Friday-Sunday, Apr. 21-23, at Whitworth's Diana Marks Field in Spokane, Wash.
The double-elimination tournament gets going Friday at 12:00 noon with No. 1 seed Whitworth taking on No. 4 seed George Fox University, followed by No. 2 seed Linfield vs. No. 3 seed Pacific Lutheran University at 2:30 p.m. There will be three games on Saturday and one, possibly two, on Sunday, with the champion earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
The official NWC Tournament page with spectator information, links to live statistics, live video coverage and results, and other information is available on the Whitworth athletics web site at http://www.whitworthpirates.com/sports/sball/2016-17/2017softballtournament.
2017 NWC Tournament Schedule
Friday, Apr. 21
Game 1: 12:00 p.m. - #1 Whitworth vs. #4 George Fox
Game 2: 2:30 p.m. - #2 Linfield vs. #3 Pacific Lutheran
Saturday, Apr. 22
Game 3: 12:00 p.m. – Loser of G1 vs. Loser of G2
Game 4: 2:30 p.m. – Winner of G1 vs. Winner of G2
Game 5: 4:30 p.m. – Winner of G3 vs. Loser of G4
Sunday, Apr. 23
Game 6: 12:00 p.m. – Winner of G4 vs. Winner of G5
Game 7: 2:30 p.m. (if necessary)
No. 1 Seed: Whitworth Pirates (32-8, 23-5 NWC)
vs. George Fox (4-0)
vs. Linfield (2-2)
vs. Pacific Lutheran (3-1)
Whitworth, which is ranked 24th in the latest national poll by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, is making its fifth straight appearance in the NWC Tournament and sixth in the seven-year history of the playoffs, missing out only in 2012. The Pirates won their third straight regular season championship, surging to the top of the league on the strength of a 14-game winning streak (one win short of the school record) and securing the outright title and right to host the tournament by beating Linfield in the season finale. The Pirates are the second-best offensive team in the NWC with a .325 batting average and 210 runs scored, trailing only Linfield in those categories. The pitching staff has a 2.93 earned run average, again second to Linfield. The Pirates have ridden the strong arm of pitcher Madi Perez, the league leader in wins (20) and ERA (1.63) and No. 3 in strikeouts (71) into the playoffs. Top hitters for the Pirates include outfielders Myranda Ramirez (.407) and Kinsey McNaught (.398), while the top run-producers are infielder Michelle Silva (a league-leading 42 runs batted in to go with seven home runs and 16 stolen bases) and outfielder Shannon Wessel (36 RBIs).
No. 2 Seed: Linfield Wildcats (32-8, 21-7 NWC)
vs. George Fox (3-1)
vs. Pacific Lutheran (2-2)
vs. Whitworth (2-2)
Linfield is the only team to appear in all seven NWC Tournaments, winning every one except for 2012 when Pacific Lutheran captured the crown. The Wildcats have been nationally ranked all season and are currently 22nd in the NFCA poll. Linfield paces the conference in several offensive categories including batting average (.336), hits (389), runs (241), home runs (34), doubles (61), and triples (10). The 'Cats are equally as solid in the circle, leading the league in ERA (1.99) and strikeouts (146). Outfielder Cheyenne Fletcher leads the NWC in batting (.448) while driving in 32 runs and is second in home runs (7), while catcher Emily Allen tops the team with 36 RBIs. First baseman Danielle Duman is the league leader in home runs (9). The Wildcats boast a 1-2 pitching punch in Shelby Saylors, who is second in the NWC in wins (16) and strikeouts (82) and third in ERA (2.06), and Brooke Chapman, who is fourth in wins (11) and ERA (2.24).
No. 3 Seed: Pacific Lutheran Lutes (20-14, 16-12 NWC)
vs. George Fox (1-3)
vs. Linfield (2-2)
vs. Whitworth (1-3)
Pacific Lutheran is back in the NWC Tournament for the first time since 2013, having played in each of the first three tournaments from 2011-13 and winning it in 2012 (the Lutes used that as a springboard to the national championship). The Lutes had the hottest start in the conference this spring, winning their first six games. PLU ranks third in the conference in batting average (.307) and doubles (53), while in the circle, the Lutes are fourth in ERA (3.23). Infielder Kathryn Hatlen ranks second in the league in batting (.410) while infielder Anna Overland is fifth in batting (.397) and second in RBIs (38). Elli Rassbach leads the pitching staff in wins (10), fifth in the NWC, and in ERA (2.93), while Marissa Miller is fifth in the conference in strikeouts (53) with nine wins and 3.05 ERA.
No. 4 Seed: George Fox (19-15, 15-13 NWC)
vs. Linfield (1-3)
vs. Pacific Lutheran (3-1)
vs. Whitworth (0-4)
George Fox is making its third straight appearance in the NWC Tournament and fourth overall, having also made the field in 2012. The Bruins have reached the finals of the tournament each of the past two seasons. Despite a 1-7 record against the top two seeds, the Bruins have proved their mettle by playing three extra-inning games with Linfield and three one-run games and an extra-inning contest with Whitworth. George Fox has a .282 team batting average, fourth in the conference, and is second in home runs (26), while the pitching ERA of 3.03 ranks third and their 128 strikeouts are second. First baseman Annie Veatch leads the Bruin offense with a .377 average, six home runs and 28 RBIs. Staff ace Madison Sorensen is the conference leader in strikeouts (88) while standing second in ERA (1.94) and third in wins (12).