Highlighted by a few memorable moments, Vikings Softball split their final regular season series against Saint Martin’s University at Viking Field in Bellingham, Wash. They finished the regular season with a 29-22 overall record.
As it has been throughout the entire season, the Vikings’ pitching was the main story. Viking pitchers combined to allow just one earned run through the first 21 innings of the series. This performance was highlighted by senior Kira Doan’s complete game victory in game one, in which she only allowed one earned run and her complete game shutout in game three.
Sophomore pitcher Sydney Brown also delivered another outstanding performance in game one. Despite the 3-2 defeat, the team leader in ERA allowed zero earned runs on 131 pitches.
“All season long our pitching staff’s gameplan facing any team is to go in, attack the zone and it’s been successful,” Brown said. “Today, I was focused on just going out there, hitting my spots and having a ball.”
On the other side of the ball, the offense was driven by exceptional performances from freshman Kanilehua Pitoy and senior Dakota Brooks. Pitoy went 6-13 at the plate, scoring three times. Brooks, the team leader in four baggers, went 3-4 in her final game at Viking Field.
“I initially felt going into this weekend that everything had to be perfect, but then I realized that this is going to be it, I should just enjoy it and I think that helped me,” Brooks said.
Following game four’s victory, Brooks finished her college career as the Vikings’ third all time leader in slugging percentage at .575.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs, the power-hitting first baseman stepped up to the plate for the final time at Viking Field.
Brooks found herself in a 2-2 count and proceeded to fight off two pitches out of play. On the next pitch, Brooks sat back on an outside change up and flared it just inside the right field foul line for her final base hit at Viking Field.
To her teammates, Brooks and other seniors have meant more to the team than only between the lines.
“Every one of our seniors mean everything, they’re the backbone of this team and it doesn’t get much better than someone like Dakota or Tatum Dowe,” Pitoy said. “They're so happy and genuine and their personalities are great on and off the field.”
Shortstop Tatum Dowe finished her college career third on the Vikings all time on base percentage leaderboard at .432.
While the seniors have played their last games at Viking Field, the women are not done yet. The GNAC postseason will begin this weekend in Lacey, Wash., with the Vikings matching up against SMU once again. Their eyes will be set on repeating as conference champions.
“Going into the playoffs, we have all the confidence in the world and we know what we’re capable of,” Head Coach Sheryl Gilmore said. “It’s just going to be a matter of us staying together, letting our game speak for itself and we have high expectations.”
The Vikings will go into the playoffs as the third seed.
On the surface the team might look like they’ve regressed from last season, however, the statistics on the surface are misleading.
It is true that the 2021 GNAC champion Vikings finished the regular season with a better overall record than this year's team with a 626 winning percentage compared to this year's 569%.
This year's team is statistically improved in certain areas than last year's team becoming arguably more well-rounded.
Unlike 2021, this year’s Vikings led the GNAC in hits (427), doubles (85) and triples (14). While the team ERA has jumped up a half a run compared to last year, they still finished second in the conference, behind Northwest Nazarene University. On top of this, the team's fielding percentage has jumped from finishing third last season to first in 2022.
Time will tell if the Vikings formula for success will hold up in the playoffs once more. The quest to repeat will begin on Thursday against SMU in Lacey, Wash., at 12 p.m. The game can be streamed here.
Joe Kramer (he/him) is a sports reporter for The Front. He is an aspiring sportswriter majoring in journalism. Outside of journalism, he enjoys baseball and spending time with his family, especially the dogs.