Heading into the 2015 Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball tournament as the No. 2 seed, the Western Washington University softball team has a lot to be excited about.
Western finished the regular season with a 17-7 conference record and a 28-16 overall record behind first place Saint Martin’s University. The team is on a six-game winning streak heading into its opening GNAC tournament game against Montana State University at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima.
“We’re playing good ball right now,” Western Washington University coach Amy Suiter said in a phone interview. “That’s reassuring. There are no secrets in the GNAC tournament. We’ve all played each other four times.”
The Vikings have been led by their freshman pitcher Makinlee Sellevold throughout the course of the season. She leads the GNAC in wins at 23 and in earned run average with a 2.32 ERA.
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“I didn’t come in thinking I’d do as well as I have,” Sellevold said in a phone interview. “A lot of hard work has paid off for me.”
Sellevold received Freshman of the Year recognition on the 2015 GNAC Softball All-Star Team announced on Monday, April 27.
“It means a lot to me just because I wasn’t able to play last year. My hard work recovering from injury and I was able to bounce back,” she said. “It’s a huge honor because there are amazing freshmen in this league and on my team.”
As a senior at Cascade High School in Everett, an ankle injury prevented Sellevold from playing her senior season.
She was drawn to Western because her sister and her mother both attended WWU for college. But also because Western is only a short drive north from Everett.
“I’m really close to my family,” Sellevold said. “It would make my transition into college easier.”
Sellevold also mentioned that Western coach Amy Suiter emphasized the team would be a second family, she said.
“That sold me,” Sellevold said.
Heading into her freshman season at Western, Sellevold started as the No. 3 pitcher in the rotation. But quickly emerged as the top pitcher for the Vikings. She leads the team in appearances (34), starts (29), complete games (19), shutouts (3), innings pitched (193.1) and strikeouts (89). Sellevold also is batting .306 with three home runs and 21 RBI on the season.
“She’s been outstanding and has taken a lot of weight in the circle. She does a good job,” Suiter said.
“One of our pitchers, Aspon Ison, got hurt,” Sellevold said. “I knew I needed to step it up, work hard and do my best. It was a surprise how much playing time and how much I’ve pitched this season.”
During the Desert Stinger tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sellevold pitched a majority of the tournament. After the amount of pitching she did in the tournament, she knew it was time to step up and work hard, she said.
Now with an entire regular season under her belt, Sellevold is ready for what the postseason holds for Western.
“I think we are doing very well,” she said, “I have all the trust in the world for my team and how we’re going to play.”
As for Suiter, she knows her team will be ready come tomorrow’s opening game against Montana State, looking to extend the current six-game winning streak.
“I have high expectations,” Suiter said. “You come here just as prepared as everyone else. It’s about who is peaking at the right time and hopefully that is in our court tomorrow.”