by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After dropping a series to Linfield, Whitworth softball will look to get back on track this weekend when it squares off with Lewis & Clark at Diana Marks Field.
The Pirates and Pios open their series with a doubleheader on April 7 and close it with another on April 8. The opening games will begin at 12:00 p.m. on both days with the nightcaps scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Fans can follow the team using video and live statistics links on the Whitworth softball schedule. Sunday's games will be the last on Diana Marks Field for the Pirates three seniors, who will be recognized before the games.
The Pirates: Whitworth (17-11, 10-8 NWC) comes into this weekend's games off a tough week in which it lost five of six games to top-25 teams. The Bucs fell 8-0 and 14-7 to #11 George Fox in a pair of mid-week make-up games. Then, they returned home and split Saturday's games with #25 Linfield thanks to a strong day at the plate from Kelsey Downey and the first win of Kaylee Rosenbaum's Whitworth career. Downey drove in 3 runs, while Rosenbaum allowed just 1 run in 3.1 innings. Linfield swept the Bucs in Sunday's games by scores of 15-6 and 5-4.
Crafty Carlson: Halfway through her freshman season, Madelyn Carlson has established herself as one of the best pitchers in the Northwest Conference. Carlson is third the nation in shutouts with six and ranks fourth in the NWC in strikeouts (61).
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 ranks tenth in the conference with a .392 batting average and is 44th in the country with 37 hits.
Slugging 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 .411 and slugging .740. The junior third baseman also leads the Bucs with 15 extra base hits.
A Walk in the Park: Sara Gayer makes getting on base looks easy. The freshman shortstop is tenth in the NWC in walks (13), which has helped her pile up the seventh-best on-base percentage (.512) in the conference as well.
There's No Catching K-Lo: Kaylie Lowery is just a freshman, but she already looks like one of the best leadoff hitters in the NWC. Lowery has the ninth-best batting average in the NWC and is fifth in the conference in stolen bases (10). She is one of only two top-10 base stealers who has yet to be caught stealing this season.
Center of Attention: After being named the inaugural Northwest Conference Freshman of the Year, Kinsey McNaught switched positions from right field to center. Last season, McNaught finished with a .983 fielding percentage in right field, totaling 52 putouts and 6 assists. Despite the transition, she has been just as good this season, totaling up 38 putouts and 6 assists with a .978 fielding percentage.
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 11 three-base hits from eight players. Kinsey McNaught leads the Pirates with three.
The Pios: Lewis & Clark (8-16, 7-13 NWC) enters this weekend's games on a two-game win streak after sweeping its Sunday doubleheader with Pacific (Ore.). The Pios are currently in fifth place in the Northwest Conference, four games behind Pacific, which currently occupies the last conference tournament qualifying spot. Paige Salavea paces Lewis & Clark at the plate. The senior outfielder is hitting .319 with 10 stolen bases. Ateisha Norton leads the Pios in RBIs with 17 and is slugging .681. Megan Anderson is Lewis & Clark's top starting pitcher with a 4.59 ERA. Last season, the Bucs swept the Pios in Portland as part of a stretch where Whitworth won 19 of 20 games.
Looking Ahead: Whitworth hits the road for its final regular season series on April 14-15 at Pacific (Ore.).
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.