Itemizer-Observer staff report MONMOUTH — Western Oregon opened Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball play with a four-game sweep of Montana State Billings, winning 9-5 and 5-2 on Friday and 8-2 and 8-1 on Saturday. “The kids played well,” Wolves coach Lonny Sargent said. “They took advantage of some things that MSUB gave us and they just played well.” Western Oregon (11-10 overall, 4-0 GNAC) saw strong performances at the plate from several players. Melanie Pfeiffer ended the series with six hits, while Amanda Evola had four hits and seven runs batted in on Saturday, and Kelsie Gardner recorded six hits and three RBIs during the series. “I think the biggest thing was they had confidence and they knew eventually (that they would score runs),” Sargent said. “Once it did, the floodgates opened, and it was fun to watch.” While Friday saw sunny conditions, Saturday saw rain move in throughout the games. And that provided a chance for players to prove themselves in less than ideal conditions, Sargent said. “The wet weather is where you see their true character and grit,” Sargent said. The Wolves hosted Northwest Christian Tuesday after press time. Western Oregon plays at Simon Fraser on Friday and at Western Washington on Saturday. With the Wolves starting what Sargent expects to be a difficult road ahead of them in GNAC play, opening with a sweep was imperative for the team’s confidence going forward. “To start conference 4-0 is huge,” Sargent said. “To be able to jump on top and get four wins in the first series is really big. MSUB, they can hit, so we were fortunate to stay ahead as much as we could.” BASEBALL WINS THREE: Western Oregon (12-9 overall, 6-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference), took three of four games against Montana State Billings (2-14 overall, 1-3 GNAC) on Friday and Saturday. The Wolves swept the first doubleheader Friday 9-1 and 5-4, and split the second, falling 7-4 and winning 8-0 on Saturday. Chris Bradshaw finished the series with 10 hits and eight RBIs. Pitcher Spenser Watkins threw a complete game during Western Oregon’s 9-1 victory, recording 12 strikeouts in the process. The Wolves host Northwest Nazarene for a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. Play is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. CHURCH QUALIFIES FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Senior Seabre Church won the women’s javelin at the Oregon State Invitational with a throw of 155 feet, 9 inches, on Saturday. The throw automatically qualifies Church for the NCAA Division II National Championships, May 22-24 in Raleigh, N.C. The throw was the second-longest in school history and the seventh longest in GNAC history. The Wolves saw five other first-place finishes: Emmi Collier took first in the women’s shot put 42-8. Sprinter Kody Rhodes won the men’s 110-meter hurdles (14.93 seconds), while Rochelle Pappel won the women’s 110 hurdles in 14.95. Jeff Howard placed first in the 100 (10.95) and the women’s 4 x 400 relay team of Covey, Bailey Beeson, Jenny Leaf and Audrey Hellesto finished first (4:01.45). MEN’S BASKETBALL ELIMINATED: Top seeded Seattle Pacific shot 46 percent from the field as the Falcons defeated fifth-seeded Western Oregon 73-57 on Thursday in the semifinals of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. Devon Alexander scored a team-high 15 points and Andy Avgi grabbed nine rebounds, but Seattle Pacific used an 11-0 run with 11:46 left in the first half to help build a 42-27 halftime lead. The Wolves advanced to the conference semifinals after defeating Alaska Anchorage 94-88 on March 5. The victory was Western Oregon’s first postseason win since 1999. The Wolves finished the season with an 18-12 record overall and reached 10 conference wins in GNAC play for the fourth time in program history.