by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After opening its season in late January, Whitworth softball is back on dirt to begin Northwest Conference play at George Fox this weekend.
Weather permitting, the Pirates square off with Bruins at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on both Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24. Live links are available on the softball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (3-3) opened its season with a trio of doubleheaders in California. The Bucs split all three with La Verne, Occidental, and Chapman, but emerged from the weekend having scored 14 more runs than its opponents. Two of Whitworth's wins were mercy-rule victories. The Pirates defeated Chapman 9-1 in six innings and beat Occidental 10-0 in five frames. They also picked up an extra inning victory over La Verne, beating the Leopards 4-3 in eight innings.
Winner, Winner: Madelyn Carlson emerged victorious from each of her first three starts as a Pirate. She's tied for the NWC lead in the category with George Fox's Madison Sorensen. Carlson and Sorensen are also tied atop the conference in strikeouts with 12 apiece.
Super Silva: Michelle Silva earned First Team All-NWC honors last season by leading the team in home runs (7), RBIs (42), and stolen bases (17). She also batted .374 from the cleanup spot.
Center of Attention: After being named the inaugural Northwest Conference Freshman of the Year, Kinsey McNaught is moving from right field to center. Last season, McNaught finished with a .983 fielding percentage in right field, totaling 52 putouts and 6 assists. She also contributed a .381 batting average with 32 runs scored as the leadoff hitter.
Fantastic Freshmen: Sara Gayer and Madelyn Carlson were the 2018 season's first Northwest Conference Student-Athletes of the Week. Carlson finished the week with a 1.09 ERA in four appearances, and Gayer batted .615 with three extra base hits.
The Bruins: George Fox (5-1) looks like one of the most dangerous teams in the Northwest Conference after scoring 33 more runs than its opponents over the first six games of the season. The Bruins return both of their All-Northwest Conference Honorees, Madison Sorensen and Annie Veatch, along with second game starter Abbie Bergerson. Last season, Whitworth swept five games from the Bruins, winning four in Newberg and one game in the Northwest Conference tournament. Kelsey Downey and Rheanne Lewis both drove in a run in the Pirates' 2-0 win in the NWC tournament, propelling the Bucs to the first conference tournament title in school history.
Looking Ahead: After their inaugural Northwest Conference series in Newberg, the Bucs travel to the Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Ariz. on March 2-4.
The Coach: Over her first six years as head coach of the Pirates, Cristal Brown has turned Whitworth into a perennial Northwest Conference championship contender. Through her first six years Brown has compiled a 166-95 record with three NWC regular season championships (2015-17), one NWC tournament title (2017), and two appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament (2016-17). Brown is also a two-time NWC Coach of the Year (2016-17). She is assisted by Associate Head Coach Randy Clark and Assistant Coaches Bob Castle and Jamie Brunner.