by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Following a sweep of Pacific Lutheran, Whitworth softball continues its first home stand of the 2018 season against the Willamette Bearcats this weekend.
The Pirates and the Bearcats square off with a pair of doubleheaders on March 24-25. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. with the second game of each day starting at 2:30 p.m.
Fans can follow the team using video and live statistics links on the Whitworth softball schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (14-8, 7-3 NWC) comes in to its series with Willamette on a six-game win streak after sweeping PLU last weekend. The Bucs picked up a Saturday sweep with two excellent offensive performances, winning 7-1 in the opener and 8-7 in the nightcap. The Lutes nearly pushed the second game into extra innings, but Maria Smith's walk-off walk in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Whitworth the win. On Sunday, the Pirates defeated PLU 4-0 in game one thanks to Michelle Silva's first inning grand slam before hitting the mercy rule for a 10-2 victory in the series finale.
Crafty Carlson: Halfway through her freshman season, Madelyn Carlson has established herself as one of the best pitchers in the Northwest Conference. Carlson is fifth in the nation in shutouts and leads the NWC with four scoreless outings. She also ranks second in the conference in strikeouts (47) and ERA (1.73).
Making Hay(es): After taking a year off from softball to focus on her Nursing degree, Chelsey Hayes is taking advantage of another opportunity to play for the Bucs. The junior first baseman leads Whitworth with a .421 batting average and is 8th in the country with 32 hits.
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). This season, Silva is again one of the best hitters in the Whitworth lineup, batting .396 and slugging .667. The junior third baseman also leads the Bucs with nine extra base hits.
A Walk in the Park: Sara Gayer makes getting on base looks easy. The freshman shortstop is fourth in the NWC in walks (10), which has helped her pile up the fifth-best on-base percentage (.534) in the conference as well.
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.
Triple the Fun: Whitworth's offense has been aided by an excess of three-base hits this season. The Bucs lead the NWC in triples with seven three-base hits from six players.
The Bearcats: Willamette (3-12, 3-9 NWC) comes into this weekend's series having dropped five of their last six games. The Bearcats were swept by Linfield last weekend and split a pair of games with Pacific (Ore.) on Monday afternoon. Jocelyn Glasgo leads the Bearcats at the plate and in the circle. Her .395 batting average and .531 on-base percentage lead the team offensively and she has pitched a team-high 36.1 innings in the circle. Last year, the Pirates took three of four games from the Bearcats in a series that had to be played at Hermiston High School due to an abundance of snow in Spokane.
Looking Ahead: Whitworth travels to George Fox to make up the a rained out doubleheader March 28 before returning home to take on Linfield on March 30-31.
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.