Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

WAC Softball Tournament Returns to Seattle U

Sean Alexander
Sean Alexander

After finishing as runners-up last season, Seattle University Softball was dealt an early postseason exit at the 2024 University Credit Union Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Softball Tournament—losing in the quarterfinals at Logan Field. The last time the fourth-seeded Redhawks hosted the tournament was in 2021. Ultimately, the top-seeded Grand Canyon Lopes took home the trophy for a third straight year, marking the first three-peat in WAC softball history

The tournament, which ran May 8-11, marked the end of an up-and-down season for the Redhawks. Seattle U finished the season with an overall record of 23-32 (win-loss), including 14-12 in WAC play. Despite losing to some top-ranked teams early in the year, the Redhawks hit their stride midseason to head into the tournament strong. 

After a first round win, head coach Geoff Hirai believed the beginning of the season helped prepare his team for the playoffs.

“We had a tough preseason—we played the number one team, the number five team and the number nine team,” Hirai said. “It’s prepared us for now… we [were] ready for this tournament because of our preseason.”

That preparation didn’t last Hirai’s team quite long enough. The tournament featured the top eight teams in the WAC with double-elimination rules. Seattle U finished 1-2 in tournament play, winning their first game before losing their last two. 

Sean Alexander

In their sole win of the tournament, the Redhawks defeated the eighth-seeded Southern Utah Thunderbirds 4-3 May 8. After falling behind 2-0 early on, Seattle U rallied to tie the game in the fourth. In the sixth inning, Senior infielder Lily Garcia put the Redhawks up for good with an RBI double.

Senior pitcher Stefanie Madrigal played a key role in Seattle U’s win, pitching the whole game for her team and earning her fifth-straight win on the circle. 

“I think we brought a lot of energy [today]. We had to pick it up in the middle of the game, but once we did, that helped us get going,” Madrigal said. “We had each other’s backs, we rallied back with two outs, so that’s huge.”

But even with double-elimination rules in effect, the Redhawks’ tournament run came to an end May 9 with a 3-2 loss against Grand Canyon and a 7-6 loss against the fifth-seeded University of Texas Arlington Mavericks. In the Grand Canyon game, Seattle U scored first but gave up the winning runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In the UT Arlington game, the Redhawks nearly came back from a three-run deficit late before ultimately falling to the Mavericks.

Despite falling short this tournament, the team was grateful to play their last games of the season at home. 

“It means the world to us, we were talking about it all day today before the game,” Garcia said after their May 8 win. “We like being home, we like hosting. We think we play at the most amazing place, I still think our field is the best in the WAC. I know it’s not big and flashy, but home is home.”

Sean Alexander

After the disappointing finish, many Redhawk players can take some solace in their individual success at the end of the season. Sophomore infielder Taylor Fitch made the All-WAC First Team while Senior outfielder Sydney Frankenberger made the second team. Garcia also claimed All-Defensive Team honors for a WAC-record third year in a row. Perhaps the most impressive accolade went to Freshman Karen Spadafora, who won Defensive Player of the Year for her skills as catcher. Spadafora is the first WAC freshman and the first Redhawk to win the award.

The end of the season also brings the bittersweet moment of saying goodbye to the team’s graduating seniors. The departures of Madrigal, Garcia, Frankenberger and infielder Jasmine Wehn will leave a big hole for the team to fill, as Madrigal has led the team in pitching wins for the past three seasons, Garcia has been a defensive stalwart and Frankenberger led the team in hits this season.

In the end, Madrigal feels thankful for the relationships her team built over the years.

“It’s really nice because we all like each other and really get along. Being my last year, that’s something nice to have,” Madrigal said. “It’s making it a lot easier [to graduate]. Good team, good support, [it’s] all love.”

Although the Redhawks’ season is over, there is more to look forward to in the future. With news of Seattle U joining the West Coast Conference starting in July 2025, next season will mark the last for Redhawk Softball in the WAC as Hirai’s team retools.

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Caleb Stipkovits, Managing Editor

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