The Laker Softball team will be heading to the NWAC Championship Thursday morning for the 8th consecutive season. The Lakers finished 4th in the southern region this year, but are ranked 5th overall in the NWAC standings which will match them up with Spokane CC on Friday at noon in the first round of the tournament. The Lakers finished the season 27-14 overall and 10-10 in regional play. Spokane finished 4th in the East region with a 19-13 record in conference and 28-18 record overall. The two teams have not faced each other at any time this year. This season marks the first year that the RPI ranking will be used to set up the tournament bracket and this first round match-up will be exciting to watch. Spokane is led by Madilyn Naccarato (FR/Nine Falls, WA) who is batting .388 and leading the team in home runs with 4 on the season. Spokane will most likely have Michele Strauss (SO/Spokane, WA) on the mound to pitch against the Lakers. Straus started 24 games this season and appeared in 29 with just over 160 innings of work and an ERA of 3.05. The Lakers on the other hand will pitch either of their freshman who have shared most of the duties this season, Shevan Defreitas (FR/Waipahu, HI) or Lauren Spencer (FR/Tacoma, WA). Spencer started 23 games this year and appeared in 143 innings with an ERA of 3.96 while DeFreitas has started 15 games and appeared in 81.2 innings with an ERA of 3.25. The real question will be more about hitting than it will be pitching. DeFreitas has 21 home runs on the season, second most in the entire NWAC, and the Lakers have a strong lineup boasting 9 players hitting over .300 on the season. The Lakers will play again on Friday afternoon at 4 pm against either #4 Douglas or #13 Edmonds in the second round of play. The 16 team double elimination tournament will conclude on Monday as long as the weather permits in Portland. If you would like additional information on the tournament or if you would like to follow the games live you can go the official Championship website: http://www.nwacsports.org/softball/championship.php