Kira Doan swings and hits a fowl ball towards first base. // Photo by Emily Porter
On March 31, 2019, the Vikings made history as they became the first team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to go undefeated in the Tournament of Champions in 18 years. The tournament hosted 27 teams in Turlock, California the weekend of March 29-31.
Each team played five games over the entire weekend. Out of the 27 teams only three went undefeated in their entire run.
The tournament placement was determined on a run difference, which placed the Vikings in second place behind only Sonoma State University.
Emily Benson, first basemen, was excited to find out the team had done so well in the tournament.
“It gave us some confidence knowing that we can really compete with anyone in our region,” Benson said.
This was Benson’s last time at this tournament with the Vikings, and she said that she wanted to just soak in every moment.
Benson’s teammate Brooke Fesenbek, third basemen, was experiencing this tournament for the first time. Fesenbek was ecstatic that she got to begin her college softball career with success of this level.
Benson and Fesenbek agreed that their first game they played was the most challenging for their team. They played against California State University San Bernardino at 9 a.m.
“Getting that win was super important, but it was a challenge and we had to play a really clean 8 innings to win it,” Benson said.
They beat San Bernardino 2-1 with a one final run scored in the eighth inning.
While the tournament was a challenging outing for the Vikings, it was also a memorable experience for the team.
Game four was the standout game in some of the players’ memory. They played California State University Monterey Bay at 7 p.m. and managed a shutout of 7-0.
For Benson, it was the feeling of playing a night game under the lights that made it great. For Fesenbek, it was the plays the team was able to make.
“Our second basemen Kira Doan made a great catch in foul territory and turn around to throw a girl out at the plate,” Fesenbek said. She said after that the energy of the team in the dugout was jacked.
Fesenbek said that this tournament success has given the team a huge confidence boost going into the second half of conference play.
The Vikings placed 22 positions higher than Central Washington University in the tournament. This was exciting because Central is the only team in the GNAC placed higher than Western.
“It definitely gave us confidence in ourselves and showed us how successful we can be this season,” pitcher Makinlee Sellevold said. “We still need to show up playing our game every opportunity we get, but I am so excited to see what this team can accomplish together.”