WWU Softball became the sixth Viking squad to earn GNAC Team of the Week honors in 2018-19. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
WWU Softball Sweeps Weekly GNAC Awards
April 2, 2019
PORTLAND, Ore. – It isn't too often a team wins seven games in seven days, but the Western Washington softball team did just that in its 7-1 road trip last week.
The Vikings started the week on the right foot with a sweep of Simon Fraser in a border battle doubleheader in conference play on Monday. They then made the trip south to California, going 5-1 in a swing that included a perfect record in the massive Tournament of Champions event. The victories ran the club's winning streak to five games while also earning the selection as GNAC Team of the Week.
"I couldn’t be prouder of this team and the way they competed this week," said head coach Sheryl Gilmore. "Playing eight games in seven days on seven different fields and to see them show up each game the way they did with a determination and belief that they were going to win was so fun to watch. They never let up and they all had each other’s backs out there fighting for the same thing."
The offense exploded against the Clan to start the week and stayed hot for the rest of the trip, jumping out to 9-1 and 10-5 victories up in Burnaby. Senior Emily Benson stood out throughout the week, hitting .565 with 14 RBI, 9 runs and 5 home runs. The performance earned Benson the honor of Tournament of Champions MVP and GNAC Offensive Player of the Week.
On the mound, senior Makinlee Sellevold compiled five victories on the week. Those efforts, in addition to totaling 17 strikeouts in five starts, gained Sellevold the GNAC Pitcher of the Week award in addition to All-Tournament honors in Turlock.
The Vikings ability to emerge victorious in tight games proved to be pivotal in the Tournament of Champions. The club went 3-0 in games decided by two runs or less, including a 2-1, eight-inning victory over Cal State Bernardino in the tournament opener and a clutch 3-1 win against Cal State East Bay in the finale.
"The team's leadership, energy and grit when their backs are against the wall is impressive," Gilmore said. "All 21 girls contributed to the team’s success and I believe that is what makes this group so special."
The successful trip improved WWU's record to 22-9 (11-3 GNAC), which has the team sitting in second place in the league standings. Central Washington remains in first place, just one game ahead of its in-state rivals.
The Vikings return to action this week as they wrap up a stretch of 12 straight games away from home. The week will get underway with a doubleheader at Saint Martin's on Saturday before the team takes to Ellensburg for a pair of contests one day later.
This is the sixth time in 2018-19 that a WWU team has been selected as a GNAC Team of the Week, joining volleyball (Nov. 12-18 & Nov. 26-Dec. 2), Men’s Golf (Sept. 17-23), Women’s Soccer (Oct. 22-28) and Men’s Track & Field (Feb. 11-17).
Copy by Connor Pelton, GNAC Communications Assistant
BENSON & SELLEVOLD SWEEP GNAC SOFTBALL
WEEKLY AWARDS (AGAIN)
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Coming off a dominating week on the diamond, Western Washington University seniors Emily Benson and Makinlee Sellevold have swept the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player and Pitcher of the Week honors for the third time this season.
Benson and Sellevold helped lead the Vikings to a 7-1 record last week, with all games played on the road. WWU swept a road GNAC doubleheader at Simon Fraser on Monday and then made history becoming the first GNAC school to go undefeated in the 18th annual Tournament of Champions with a 5-0 record.
This marks the sixth and seventh GNAC weekly awards for WWU softball this season, pulling to within one of the all-time program record of eight set in 2007 and 2011. Sellevold has now won eight GNAC weekly awards (7 as a pitcher), most in WWU history and tied for 4th-most in conference history. Benson is now a five-time GNAC Player of the Week award winner, including three this season.
Benson (West Richland, WA/Kamiakin) combined to bat .565 (13-for-23) with 9 runs scored, 4 doubles, 5 home runs and 14 RBI in the eight games last week. She combined recorded a pair of multi-home run games in contests at Simon Fraser and Sonoma State, and went 5-for-5 with 7 RBI against Dominican. In the five games in the Tournament of Champions she earned tournament MVP honors by batting .600 (9-for-15) with five extra-base hits (2B-4, HR-1) and 9 RBI.
For the season the first baseman leads the GNAC in the triple crown categories, batting .473 (44-for-93) with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. She is also tops in the conference with a 1.011 slugging percentage and .560 on-base percentage.
For her career, Benson is within one home run of the all-time GNAC record with 44 home runs and set the WWU all-time record for RBI last week with 155. She already holds the school mark for career home runs and extra-base hits (78) and currently has the highest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in school history.
Sellevold (Everett, WA/Cascade) earned her third GNAC Pitcher of the Week award after going 5-1 with a 1.44 ERA (7 ER, 34.0 IP) in six appearances (5 starts). The right-hander was one of just two pitchers named to the Tournament of Champions All-Tournament team, going 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA (2 ER, 22.0 IP) in three starts.
For the season, Sellevold is 14-7 overall with a 2.26 ERA (42 ER, 130.0 IP) in 23 appearances and 21 stats. She has recorded 4 shutouts and 13 complete games. Amongst GNAC leaders she is tops in wins (14), strikeouts (112) and innings pitched (130.0), while ranking 2nd in ERA (2.26) and 3rd in opposing batting average (.242).
For her career, Sellevold is WWU’s all-time wins leader with a career 57-30 record, the 4th-most wins in GNAC history. She is also tied for 9th in GNAC history and tied for 4th in WW history with 53 complete games.
The Vikings are 22-9 overall and has won 9 of its last 10 and 17 of its last 21 games. WWU finished non-conference play with an 11-6 record, with four of the six losses vs. ranked opponents, and head into the second half of GNAC play in 2nd place with an 11-3 record. WWU concludes its extended road trip this weekend traveling to play Saint Martin’s on Saturday in Lacey and Central Washington in Ellensburg on Saturday.
-- WWU Softball --
Emily Benson (Player) and Makinlee Sellevold (Pitcher) swept the GNAC Softball Player of the Week awards. PHOTO: WWU Athletics