After securing the regular season Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title and the number one seed in the WAC tournament, Seattle University’s Softball team now has their sights set on a tournament with a Division I record of 36 wins, pushing them into the WAC tournament as the first seed.
The Seattle U softball team also holds this seasons’s best WAC batting average by Sophomore Ally Choate at .411, runs batted in by Junior Madison Cathcart at 51, earned run average by Redshirt Sophomore Carley Nance at 1.95, and stolen bases by Freshman Olivia Viggiano with 20.
The team also tied for second place in total home runs by a player by Sophomore Bailey Thompson with 12.
With these incredible achievements already in the book, the team hopes to now take the next step and bring home the WAC Championship title this coming week as the grand finale to their year.
Head Coach Geoff Hirai attributes the success of this year’s team to a culmination of years of hard work to build team culture into what it has become.
“It’s taken us four years to understand each other and how we do things. This team is just fun; they’re very connected and family oriented. They have each other’s back no matter what,” Hirai said.
Junior Utility Player Alyson Matriotti notes that there was a key turning point within the team that allowed them to reach this point of understanding.
“We spent a lot of time this past preseason just trying to figure out who we are and our identity. After we figured that out, it’s been all uphill from there,” Matriotti said.
Figuring out their culture was truly a team effort, and took the commitment of each team member.
Sophomore Pitcher Shianne Smith, who led Seattle U pitchers in strikeouts with 95-the fourth most in the WAC, describes what a difference this pivotal shift has had on the team.
“The atmosphere is just completely different, our culture was good last year, but has just improved so much,” Smith said. “Everyone cares and loves so much for each other. Our passion is just for each other and the team.”
Just last month Smith tied the Seattle U school record when she recorded 12 strikeouts in a single game against.
Looking forward to the tournament, Hirai mentioned that each team in the conference will be tough; all the Redhawk’s competition must be taken seriously.
“Everyone is fighting for their lives. It’s all about who gets hot at the right time and hopefully that’s us,” Hirai said.
The Redhawks ended their regular season on a five-game winning streak, the longest winning streak any WAC team had at the end of the season.
Smith attests to Hirai’s anticipation of the tournament, mentioning that it will all come down to the team’s attitude.
“If we stay humble and kind like we did this weekend and many weekends before we’re just gunna dominate,” Smith said.
Hirai also mentioned that although the team has been focusing most of their efforts on their culture, their end goal is still to take home the WAC title.
“There is no strategy, we have to win it. That’s our goal; it’s been our goal since the beginning,” Hirai said.
Mattrioti similarly mentions that winning the WAC tournament would not only be an achievement for the team, it would show the community how hard the team works and what they are capable of.
“Ever since the beginning of the season, it’s been about us. This is our best shot to finally showcase what we do,” Mattrioti said.
The softball team recently had its senior day in which they celebrated those Redhawks who were playing in their final regular season game. Mattrioti said that although the team is sad to see them go, she knows that even after the tournament is over the team will continue to grow and until then she’s going to enjoy every second playing with them in this WAC tournament.
“I’m confident in our abilities to keep growing as a team, the seniors are gunna be missed though. They’re a big part of our culture,” Mattrioti said.
One such senior is first base and designated player Emma Mitchell, who will lead the team into the WAC tournament with an incredibly successful season under her belt, with a game-winning walk-off single and the team’s Most Inspirational award winner two years in a row.
On the team’s senior day, and final game of the regular season, Mitchell was able to hit a walk-off single and ultimately win the game for the Redhawks, launching them into the tournament with a fresh win to fire them up.
“That was the best moment for me,” Mitchell said. “She works so hard, just works her butt off and being able to see her do that, just as a team, was the best thing that could have happened, and she deserved that.”
This combination of humility, success, and cohesiveness within the team will surely give Seattle U softball an edge and maybe exactly what they need to bring home the WAC tournament title.
“There is not one person on this team who isn’t my sister,” Smith said. Seattle U will compete in the WAC tournament May 8 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Kirsten may be reached at