SEATTLE – (June 13) Seattle University softball put together its most successful Division I season in 2018, winning 33 games. It was a record-breaking campaign that has the Redhawks hungry for more in 2019.
In Coach Geoff Hirai’s third season, SU won 33 games, the most by a Redhawk team in the Division I era. It beat two Pac-12 programs, including Oregon State, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Redhawks were one win away from claiming the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular-season title. They landed seven players on the All-WAC teams, marking a new program record.
The season started off with a bang as Seattle U nearly knocked off Notre Dame and then put up 13 runs in a win over Stanford at the Kajikawa Classic. The next day, SU won twice in extra innings, beating CSUN and Western Michigan.
The Redhawks followed with 3-2 weekends at the Marucci Classic and the Libby Matson Tournament. Against Montana at the Red Desert Classic, Madison Cathcart homered to tie the game in the eighth inning and then Breanna Timmons hit a walk-off single to win it in the ninth.
On March 6, Seattle U hosted Toledo in the home opener at Logan Field. Cathcart recorded a fantastic doubleheader, reaching base in all seven of her plate appearances. With SU down, 4-3, in the bottom of the seventh in the nightcap, Cathcart hammered a walk-off grand slam to lift the Redhawks to a sweep of the Rockets.
SU went 5-1 at the Seattle U Invitational March 16-18, as the Redhawk pitchers carried the squad to a stellar weekend. Andie Larkins and Shianne Smith both threw complete-game shutouts at Logan Field.
Following another winning weekend at the Gaucho Classic II, SU entered WAC play. It started 8-1, including sweeps of Kansas City and CSU Bakersfield. The 3-0 weekends marked the first conference sweeps by SU since 2013. On senior day, Emma Mitchell hit a walk-off single to give the Redhawks a 4-3 win over Grand Canyon, setting up a showdown at New Mexico State to close WAC action.
Cathcart homered as Seattle U won, 7-4, at NM State on April 27. The Aggies rallied with a pair of wins the next day, though, sneaking away with the WAC regular-season crown.
On May 1, SU bounced back with a 3-1 win at Oregon State. Larkins pitched a complete game, baffling the Beavers throughout as the Redhawks tallied their 33rd win of the year.
At the WAC Tournament, Seattle U dropped its first two games, seeing its season end prematurely. Prior to the tournament, SU was rewarded for its stellar campaign. Cathcart, Larkins, and Ally Choate were voted All-WAC First Team, while Maddy Kristjanson, Carley Nance, Kaylee Ree, and Bailey Thompson were chosen All-WAC Second Team.
Cathcart had perhaps the best season in SU’s program history, setting eight new school records and becoming the first Redhawk to be chosen NFCA All-Region. The sophomore won the WAC’s slash rate triple crown, compiling a .444/.596/.931 line. She set school records in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs (19), doubles (20), walks (53), extra-base hits (39) and putouts (496). Cathcart ranked in the top 12 nationally in on-base percentage (fourth), slugging percentage (fifth), walks (sixth), doubles (10th), batting average (11th), home runs (11th), and total bases (11th).
SU also had the top pitching staff in the WAC. Larkins, Nance, and Smith had standout seasons in the circle, as the Redhawks led the WAC in wins (33), ERA (2.98), and strikeouts (288). Larkins earned All-WAC First Team, while Nance was selected All-WAC Second Team. Smith set program records for opponent batting average (.210) and strikeouts per seven innings (6.55). Nance broke Division I program marks in strikeouts (123) and wins (14).
Choate led the WAC in regular-season hits with 67 and scored a school-record 42 runs. Nicole Bolasky set a new SU record with 27 stolen bases.
Hirai’s squad returns six All-WAC performers in 2019. With a strong nucleus intact, Seattle U will look to break through to the NCAA Tournament next year.