Pitching Key to Bearcats' Recent Success

Smith and Bradshaw share a combined 9-2 record for Willamette

By Brandon Chinn, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University softball team has caught fire over the past two weeks, putting together a seven-game winning streak that has improved their record to 9-6 overall, 5-4 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette began its string of wins by sweeping a doubleheader against the University of Puget Sound on March 7.

Since then, the Bearcats have added a win over Pacific Lutheran University on March 8, a pair of wins over George Fox University on March 15 and a doubleheader sweep of Pacific University on March 16.

As is the key to any major run in softball, pitching has played a major role. Over the past seven games, Willamette has limited its opponents to a mere 11 runs, just six earned, as the Bearcats have achieved a 0.86 earned run average.

Anchoring the pitching staff has been freshman Jade Smith (P, Chico, CA/Chico HS), who currently boasts an impressive 1.25 earned run average.

In eight starts for Willamette, Smith has recorded six wins while tossing six complete games. She also has demonstrated accuracy from the circle, with 25 punch outs to just 10 walks.

Victoria Bradshaw (So., P, Discovery Bay, CA/Liberty HS) has also excelled in the circle for the Bearcats. Entering this Sunday's action against Occidental College to start a Spring Break trip to California, Bradshaw sits at 3-1 on the year with a 2.16 ERA. She has allowed just 11 earned runs on the season, while holding opposing hitters to a .230 batting average.

Willamette's stellar pitching was on full display this past weekend, as the Bearcats swept a doubleheader at George fox University on Saturday before doing the same thing at home on Sunday against Pacific University.

Outscoring their opponents 20-3 over the four-game span, both Smith and Bradshaw came away with two wins and a complete-game shutout. They achieved matching 0.50 ERAs for the weekend.

Bradshaw tossed a gem in game two of the doubleheader against George Fox on Saturday, limiting the Bruins to just three hits through seven innings. Smith notched her complete-game shutout in game one of Sunday's action, blanking the Boxers for seven innings, while striking out five and walking none.

Over the course of the weekend, Smith pitched 14 innings and allowed just a single run. She struck out nine batters while yielding one walk. Bradshaw was equally impressive, allowing two runs (one earned) in 14 innings of action.

After a string of 13 consecutive Northwest Conference games, the Bearcats will travel south over Spring Break to southern California. Starting March 23, Willamette will compete against Occidental, California Lutheran University (March 24), the University of Redlands (March 25) and Pomona-Pitzer (March 26) over a four-day span.

Occidental will provide a Live Video Webcast and Live Stats, while CLU will feature a Video Webcast only. Redlands will provide Live Stats, as will Pomona-Pitzer.

The Bearcats will return home before resuming conference play at Pacific Lutheran University on March 29. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PDT) in Parkland, Wash.

Interviews with Jade Smith
and Victoria Bradshaw
Jade Smith leads the Willamette pitching staff with a 6-1 record and 25 strikeouts.

Jade Smith leads the Willamette pitching staff with a 6-1 record and 25 strikeouts.

Victoria Bradshaw has achieved a 3-1 record this season, while striking out 20 batters.

Victoria Bradshaw has achieved a 3-1 record this season, while striking out 20 batters.