Brittney Sanders has quietly put together a solid season with the Montana State University-Billings softball team and is ranked among the top 20 in four offensive categories in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Sanders, a Kelso High graduate and junior catcher with the Yellowjackets, has started 32 of the team’s 33 games. She’s hitting .337 — which is third-best on the team and 18th in the GNAC — and leads the team and is fourth in the GNAC in home runs with six. Sanders is also tops on the Yellowjackets with a .589 slugging percentage, which is also ranked sixth in the GNAC, and is tops on the team and seventh in the conference with 28 runs batted in.

During a recent four-game series against Northwest Nazarene University, Sanders was named an honorable mention GNAC Softball Player of the Week. During a doubleheader won by MSU-Billings 6-4 and 7-1, Sanders went 2 for 3 with a home run in one game and slapped an RBI single in the nightcap. In the second twinbill that MSU-B split with the Crusaders, Sanders had three hits, including a two-run homer and a two-run single.

For Northwest Nazarene, ex-Lower Columbia College catcher Gatalina Schuster belted a home run in the Crusaders’ lone weekend victory.

Kukula shines for Bearcats: Ilwaco High graduate Ryan Kukula was named a Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week after winning the men’s individual title at the recent Willamette University Spring Thaw golf tournament held at the Broken Top Club in Bend, Ore.

Kukula, a junior, carded rounds of 5-under 67 and 3-under 69 to win the tournament by nine strokes and lead Willamette to a 16-stroke victory. His teammate, freshman Clark Wilson also of Ilwaco, tied for 12th place at the tournament with rounds of 78-75.

In the recent Northwest Conference Spring Classic held at the Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, Kukula and Wilson tied for eighth place with identical scores of 158. Kukula fired rounds of 78-80, while Wilson carded 79-79 as Willamette placed second in the tournament.

Paavola ties Linfield record: Linfield College softball pitcher Karina Paavola recently equalled a school record with her 71st career victory in a 4-1 win over Willamette University.

Paavola, a senior, improved to 17-3 this season after allowing two hits, a walk and striking out 12. She’s tied with graduated All-American Brittany Miller, who set the Linfield record during 2006-09. The victory also marked the 11th consecutive season Linfield has won 30 or more games.

Hughes among NWAACC leaders: Clatskanie’s Teauna Hughes, a sophomore shortstop at Mount Hood College in Gresham, is ranked among the top 10 softball players in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges in six offensive categories.

Hughes leads the NWAACC in home runs (12), is second in slugging percentage (1.20) and is third in runs batted in (41) and on-base percentage (.626). She’s also fifth in batting average (.547) and 10th in doubles (nine).

Westrick solid for the Bruins: Longview native Baylee Westrick has put together a solid season in her freshman campaign with the George Fox University softball team.

Westrick, who graduated from Central Catholic High in Portland, has started all 40 games and is hitting .333 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs. She’s tied for second in the Northwest Conference in home runs, fifth in RBIs, seventh in slugging (.598), 13th in on-base percentage (.421) and 19th in batting average.

Rick McCorkle is a sports writer for The Daily News. If you know of a college athlete not mentioned in this column, email rickmc@tdn.com or call 577-2529.

Rick McCorkle is a sports reporter for The Daily News. Reach him at 360-577-2529 or rmccorkle@tdn.com.

Rick is a 29-year veteran of The Daily News, and the lead Lower Columbia College athletics reporter. In addition, he tracks former area prep athletes and assists several other beats. He is a Mark Morris grad with a business management degree from LCC.

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