Seattle U Softball Fiercely Approaches WAC Tournament

The Seattle University softball team is wrapping up conference play and attempting to qualify for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament. Last weekend, the team bested Utah Valley University, improving to an overall record of 30-18 and 11-10 in WAC play, placing them at fifth in the conference. Players highlighted in last week’s game were Senior pitcher Stefanie Madrigal and Redshirt Freshman infielder Katie Walling. Madrigal pitched for three innings, allowing only one run and four hits while Walling went 3-for-3 with one triple, two scored runs and three RBIs.

Walling put Seattle U ahead with a triple hit towards the left field wall, allowing Kalyn Hill to score while Mekenzie Madokoro hit another run that allowed Walling to run home, putting the team ahead by two runs in the second inning.

Overall, the team currently sits at the third-most wins in the conference while ranking top three in runs scored, runs allowed and on-base percentage.

Infielder Jocelynn De La Cruz, a graduate marketing student, has noticed that everyone functions as a team by supporting one another, and their chemistry has been reflected on the field.

“We started off pretty hot—preseason—and I feel like we’re getting that back a bit because of the team chemistry. We know how to pick each other up and what each person needs to move on. For me, it takes a lot of pressure off,” De La Cruz said. “It’s all falling into place right now, which is good timing.”

De La Cruz described how the team has been learning from their losses and using that to improve strategically against teams they have played before. The goal is to apply what’s been going well in the game rather than what’s been going wrong so that the whole team can play their best. 

Infielder Taylor Deden, a senior criminal justice major, talked about how Head Coach Geoff Hirai formed a team that knows how to persevere until the very end.

“Every girl Coach Hirai has recruited has a story where someone didn’t believe in them, and I think that’s why he banded us all together to create this type of underdog team. This type of ‘you can’t tell me what I can and can not do,’ or ‘I don’t care how many games we lost or won going into the tournament,’” Deden said. “We are going to fight as far as we can go to get to the finish line, and I don’t think any of us will have regrets about how hard we pushed.

“Hard work pays off” is one of the mottos Deden and the rest of the team live by. Reflecting that mindset both on and off the field is a goal of hers.

The Redhawks won the WAC Tournament from 2019 to 2021. Outfielder Mekenzie Madokoro, a graduate psychology student, emphasized that the team is eager to claim another ring and that their spirited way of playing the game is one of the best things they have going for them.

“We’re scrappy. We’re gritty, and we’ve come back from far worse. We’ve played the best of the best. We’ve beat ranked teams. I have no doubt that we can go all the way,” Madokoro said. “We have two rings, and we’re searching for a third one.”

Giving maximum effort has been the backbone of the team. Madokoro looks forward to ending off the season with everything she’s got left.

The nearing of the WAC Tournament signals the approaching end of the season. The upcoming matchups will be the last competitive collegiate games for De La Cruz, Deden and Makodoro.

“I’ve dedicated so much of my time and life into the sport that it’s gotten to the point where I’m ready to hang my cleats up,” Makodoro said. “I’ve been identified as a softball player for so long, so I’m excited to see who Mekenzie is.”

Deden and De La Cruz expressed that they had a similar experience. Their softball careers have been a defining part in their college experience, yet all of them expressed their excitement to further their studies and discover more of themselves off the softball field. 

The Redhawks will be heading to Riverside, California this weekend to play against California Baptist University in a three-game series. The team currently holds an 8-4 advantage all-time and hopes to secure their spot in the WAC Tournament by winning two out of three games.