By Drew Stuart
Senior outfielder Carlie Richards’ walk-off single to center field propelled Western women’s softball to a 3-2 win over Northwest Nazarene.
The win gave the Vikings (6-9, 3-1 GNAC) a doubleheader sweep over the Nighthawks (8-13, 1-3 GNAC) on Friday, March 2, after splitting Thursday’s doubleheader.
The four-game series kicked off the first round of Great Northwest Athletic Conference games for both teams and marked the first home games of the season for the Vikings.
After a loss and a close win on Thursday, Western coach Amy Suiter knew they needed to come together to beat the Nighthawks on Friday.
“We got a lot of good information from that and were able to make those adjustments coming into today,” Suiter said.
Junior pitcher Shearyna Labasan retired the first 17 batters she faced, throwing a complete game while giving up three hits, two earned runs and notching three strikeouts.
The game was won through a combination of aggressive throws from Labasan and reliable defense from the Vikings’ fielders.
Labasan said this combination worked in their favor against the Nighthawks.
“Just go right after the batters,” Labasan said. “I knew my defense was working really hard today. They made some good plays.”
The Vikings didn’t allow the Nighthawks to advance far into their homefield. Labasan’s pitches were hard to anticipate and the fielders consistently outed runners before they could reach first base.
The Vikings finished the second inning with one run on the board, thanks to freshman outfielder Lauren Lo hitting a line drive that allowed freshman infielder Kira Doan to score from second base.
Despite a few setbacks, Northwest Nazarene kept up the pressure. Most attempts by the Vikings to advance were thwarted due to quick fielding by the Nighthawks.
Neither team scored from the third to the fifth inning. However, a fly ball hit to right field by Richards allowed Labasan to collect another run for the Vikings.
Then in the top of the sixth inning, the Nighthawks got on the board with a 2-run home run knocked in by Cassidy Fifield.
“It’s just part of the game,” Suiter said. “You can’t let one pitch change the momentum. You just deal and move forward.”
In the bottom of the sixth the Vikings made little progress with no hits and no runs. However, the same happened to the Nighthawks moments later in the top of the seventh inning.
But the Vikings were able to pull through in the bottom of the seventh. With Lo on base, Richards hit a single to center field that allowed Lo to score the winning run.
Labasan, who batted .523 and was just as effective at-bat as she was on the mound, said the win was a team effort.
“We really put everything together, Labasan said. “It was a team win today.”