PHOENIX – Seattle University softball struck for four first-inning runs and Andie Larkins held down Grand Canyon as the Redhawks claimed a key Western Athletic Conference (WAC) victory, 6-2, Saturday evening. SU now has a two-game lead in the conference standings with three games remaining in the regular season after its crucial win at GCU Softball Field.

With the win, Seattle U tied the Division I program record for wins in a season with 33. The 2018 edition set that mark. More importantly, SU moved to 12-3 in WAC action, taking a two-game lead on GCU. If both teams play all three games next weekend, the Redhawks will only need a win or a Lopes loss to clinch their first-ever WAC regular season title.

SU continued its trend of strong first innings, dropping four runs to gain early control of Saturday’s contest. Ally Choate reached on an error and then Bailey Thompson smashed a two-out double off the wall in left center, plating Choate from first. Kaylee Ree followed with a single to right that drove in Thompson. Carley Nance then drilled a pitch over the fence in right for a 4-0 advantage.

The hosts answered with two runs in their half of the first, but Larkins earned a key strikeout to escape further damage. Larkins settled in from there, retiring eight in a row as she kept the Lopes off-balance in the middle of the game.

Choate doubled in the top of the fourth and moved to third on a Madison Cathcart base hit. Thompson’s liner to center was not caught, allowing Choate to score for a 5-2 margin. SU added another run in the fifth, as Breanna Timmons doubled and Emma Mitchell blooped a pinch-hit RBI single to make it 6-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Lopes hit a leadoff single. However, Alyson Matriotti grabbed a Kayleigh Holland liner and fired across the diamond to double off the runner. Larkins collected a groundball to third to close out the frame.

Larkins posted two strikeouts in the seventh and then induced a groundout to short to finish the complete-game effort. The senior pitched all seven innings, shutting out the Lopes over the final six frames of the night. She allowed six hits to go with four strikeouts. Olivia Viggiano and Ree both tallied two hits, while Cathcart had a hit and two walks.

The Redhawks return home to close the regular season next weekend, as California Baptist visits Logan Field for three games on May 3-4.