Saints clinch GNAC softball title with sweep of Northwest Nazarene

Behind a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin’s captured the Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball regular-season title for the second time in three seasons on Friday, defeating the Crusaders, 7-2 and 20-9 (five innings) in Nampa, Idaho.

With two regular-season games remaining, the Saints (38-16 overall, 18-4 GNAC) will be the conference’s No. 1 seed at the GNAC softball tournament April 30-May 2 at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima. The tournament’s winner receives the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA West Regional tournament. Western Washington, Montana State Billings and Western Oregon will join Saint Martin’s in the four-team tournament.

In 2013, the Saints also won the GNAC regular-season and tournament titles — a first in school history — to earn a spot in the NCAA West Regional tournament.

Senior Sam Munger’s GNAC-leading 21-game hitting streak was snapped in the first game after an 0-for-4 performance at the plate, but she did pick up her GNAC-leading 21st victory in the circle, pitching a complete-game three-hitter with five strikeouts. Mary Dettling, Taviah Jenkins and Dani Wall, a 2011 Tenino High School graduate, all homered for the Saints.

The Saints scored 12 first-inning runs in Game 2, as Munger went 3 for 5, including a three-run home run in the second inning, and drove in a game-high six runs for the 20-9 victory. Dettling, Jenkins, Wall, Paige Miller and sister Megan Miller each had two RBI.

Saint Martin’s and Northwest Nazarene conclude the regular season with a doubleheader starting at noon Saturday in Nampa.