SEATTLE (June 2) – In 2017, Seattle University softball appeared in its first-ever Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship game. With a strong cast of returners, the Redhawks will look to win the WAC in 2018.
Coach Geoff Hirai, in his second season at Seattle U, guided his squad to 20 wins against a challenging schedule in 2017. SU faced three Top 10 programs and five NCAA Tournament participants, including a pair of College World Series qualifiers. In the WAC, the Redhawks tied for third in the regular season, winning seven conference games-their most since the 2013 campaign. 2017 also featured a perfect game, a record-breaking performance, and the longest game in program history.
In the WAC Tournament at New Mexico State, SU looked to make a statement. It took down Utah Valley, 8-5, in the first round, topping WAC Pitcher of the Year Lauren Frailey. Every Redhawk starter had a hit, as Cherise Silvan, Sara Dominguez, and Jessica Flanagan combined to go 6-9 with four runs scored and three RBIs.
The win set up a date with top-seeded NM State. Andie Larkins, making her second straight start, threw another complete game, giving up four runs in a 6-4 victory. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Redhawks rallied to turn the game around. Flanagan doubled and Nicole Bolasky reached on a bunt single. Paige Bouska then singled to drive in the tying run. Kaylee Ree's line drive double to right brought in two runs for a 5-3 lead. A Savannah Loomis sac fly stretched the margin as SU moved closer to its first WAC Championship appearance. Larkins posted a 1-2-3 seventh, including a swinging strikeout to end the contest.
New Mexico State won that night to reach the WAC Championship the following day. In a back-and-forth game, the teams traded blows, with the Redhawks coming back from an early 4-0 deficit. Maddy Kristjanson's solo homer gave SU a 7-6 edge in the third inning. The Aggies bounced back to take an 11-7 lead. Again, Seattle U had an answer, putting up four runs in the fourth to even the score at 11. In the top of the sixth, SU put two runners on for pinch-hitter Kayla Gonzales. The senior hammered an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left field, lifting the Redhawks to a 14-11 lead. After getting through the bottom of the sixth, Seattle U was unable to slow the Aggies in the seventh, as the hosts sneaked away with a 15-14 decision. NM State then claimed a victory in the winner-take-all game, clinching the title.
Bouska and freshman Alyson Matriotti were both chosen All-WAC First Team, while Larkins and Madison Cathcart were All-WAC Second Team. Larkins, Flanagan, Kristjanson, and Cathcart were named to the WAC All-Tournament Team.
Bouska, in her final season at SU, led the WAC in hits (74) and triples (7). She hit .378 in 52 games, striking out just six times in 196 at-bats. She graduates as the program's career hits leader (235). Bouska was named All-WAC three times in her career.
Matriotti took over at third base early in the season and finished the year with a .343 batting average, including a .419 mark in conference games. She also stole a team-high 11 bases in 12 attempts.
Larkins led the WAC in innings pitched with 200.1 in her sophomore season. She tossed 20 complete games and struck out 95 hitters. Cathcart batted .311 with five home runs and 40 RBIs in her freshman campaign.
On March 10 at the University of Washington, senior Alyssa Reuble threw a perfect game against South Dakota. In the five-inning masterpiece, Reuble retired all 15 hitters she faced, striking out one batter. It marked the first perfect game in Division I this season and the third perfect game in school history. The outing was one of just 11 perfect games in the nation in 2017.
After winning its WAC opener at Grand Canyon, the Redhawks and Lopes engaged in a lengthy battle on the night of March 31. Reuble and Mariah Valencia squared off, allowing just two runs apiece through seven innings. The pitchers kept the game tied into the 12th frame, when Seattle U exploded for five runs to take a 7-2 advantage. In the bottom of the 12th, the lights went out at GCU Stadium, causing a 20-minute delay. On her 157th and final pitch of the night, Reuble struck out Loriann Olsen to end the contest. Reuble threw all 12 innings as SU recorded its first-ever 2-0 start in WAC play.
At the team's banquet, the seniors were honored and eight Redhawks took home awards. Bouska was chosen MVP, Reuble claimed the “Hard Hat” award, Cathcart and Bolasky shared top newcomers accolades, Kristjanson and Larkins were the top defensive players, Silvan won most improved, and Emma Mitchell collected most inspirational.
Hirai will return his regular lineup with the exception of Bouska. Larkins will lead a group of new pitchers, as Reuble and Lindsay Davis will graduate.