Bearcats Battle #1 Linfield, but Wildcats win 5-3 and 5-2

Both Teams will Compete in the NWC Tournament Next Weekend

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University gave #1-ranked Linfield College two solid battles in Northwest Conference play on Sunday, April 15 at the WU Softball Field, but the Wildcats swept the doubleheader, winning 5-3 and 5-2.

The Wildcats, ranked #1 in the nation in NCAA Division III, finished first in the NWC standings at 25-3. They will host the NWC Tournament next weekend in McMinnville, Ore. Joining Linfield in the four-team NWC Tournament will be Pacific Lutheran University (24-4, 2nd place), Willamette (19-9, 3rd place) and George Fox University (15-13, 4th place).

Linfield concluded the regular season with an overall record of 35-3, while Willamette finished its regular season schedule at 20-13.

Willamette took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opener. With one out, Kelli Snyder (Sr., C, Longview, WA/Kelso HS) single up the middle and Mica Romero (Sr., SS, Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian School) doubled down the left field line. Snyder advance to third on the play and remained there when Linfield pitcher Karina Paavola gained a strikeout for the second out.

Nichole Robertson (Sr., RF, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS/Cosumnes River Coll.) hit a single that deflected off the pitcher, allowing Snyder to score and Romero to move to third. Robertson went to second on the throw, when Linfield attempted to throw out Romero. Paavola got out of the inning with another strikeout.

The Wildcats surged into the lead in the fourth inning with three runs on four hits and an error. After Emilee Lepp singled back to the pitcher, Staci Doucette blasted a two-run homer to left field. Karleigh Prestianni singled and Kate Hasty entered the game as a pinch-runner. A bunt single by Ashley Garcia moved Hasty to second base. Hasty stole third and scored when Snyder's throw from the plate resulted in an error.

Paavola and Willamette pitcher Alex Watilo (Sr., RHP, Newcastle, OR/Del Oro HS) kept the teams off the scoreboard over the next two-and-a-half innings, as Linfield kept a 3-1 lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Wildcats extended the margin by scoring two runs. Watilo forced the first two batters to line out and ground out, respectively, but Doucette batted next and connected for her second home run of the game. Three consecutive singles through the left side, produced an additional run, as Prestianni hit the first single and later scored on a single by Katy Brosig.

Trailing 5-1, the Bearcats started to rally in the bottom of the inning.

Romero singled with one out and stolen second base. A single to shortstop by Susie Krewer (Sr., 2B, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS) sent Romero to third. Robertson provided a sacrifice bunt, driving in Romero and sending pinch-runner Emily Bray (Jr. 1B, Martinez, CA/Alhambra HS) to second. Bray scored on a base hit to center by Yvonne Drabin (Jr., CF, Freemont, CA/Moreau Catholic HS).

Jessica Barry (Jr., LF, Cupertino, CA/Monte Vista HS/UNLV) also singled and represented the potential tying run at first base. A fielder's choice led to a force out at third to end the game.

Paavola improved to 18-1 with the win for the Wildcats. She struck out nine batters, allowed just one walk and gave up eight hits. Doucette went 2 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs for the Wildcats, while hitting her 16th and 17th home runs of the season. Garcia went 3 for 4, while Prestianni and Brosig added two hits apiece.

Romero was 2 for 3 with a run scored during the game. Watilo pitched all seven innings for Willamette and earned five strikeouts with no walks. Her record dropped to 13-5 on the season.

Linfield tallied three runs in the second inning and added one run in the third stanza, as the Wildcats took a 4-0 lead. Brosig drove in all three runs in the second stanza with a homer to left field. In the third inning, Doucette walked and gave way to pinch-runner Grace Middelstadt, who scored on a double by Prestianni.

The Bearcats scored single runs in the third and fourth innings to pull within two runs. Susannah Von Trapp (Sr., 3B/DP, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) singled to start the third inning and later reached home a groundout by Krewer. In the fourth inning, Robertson singled through the left side, went to second when Carolyn Cava (Sr., LF, Salinas, CA/Robert L. Stevenson School) grounded out, and scored on a single by Bray.

In the top of the fifth, Lepp doubled down the left field line and scored on a single by Doucette, as Linfield added an insurance score.

The Wildcats benefited from a walk and an error in the sixth inning, and then achieved two singles with no outs in the seventh inning. Each time, the Bearcats escaped the the threat, leaving the score at 5-2.

Linfield relief pitcher Shelby VandeBergh kept WU of the scoreboard as well, overcoming a leadoff single by Theresa Martin (Fr., 3B, Modesto, CA/Johansen HS) in the fifth inning and a two-out single by Von Trapp in the seventh.

Even so, Willamette ended the game with a 9-6 advantage in hits. Martin and Von Trapp each went 2 for 4, while five other Bearcats earned one hit apiece. Doucette and Prestianni topped Linfield's offensive efforts during the game, as both batters went 2 for 3.

Lauren Harvey, who threw the first four innings for Linfield, upped her record to 15-2 with the win. Hayley Glantz (Fr., RHP, Reno, NV/Robert McQueen HS) of Willamette threw the first six innings and dropped to 7-8 with the loss.

BOX SCORES

Linfield College 5
Willamette University 3
Statistics

Linfield College 5
Willamette University 2
Statistics
WU shortstop Mica Romero went 3 for 5 at the plate during the doubleheader.

WU shortstop Mica Romero went 3 for 5 at the plate during the doubleheader.