Bearcats Devour Linfield to Clinch NWC Tournament Bid

Softball Moment of the Year

By Brandon Chinn, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- After suffering a 16-2 defeat in the first game of an April 13 doubleheader against Linfield College, it would have been easy for the Willamette University softball team to throw in the towel for game two.

Instead, the Bearcats answered with a retaliating punch, utilizing two high-scoring innings en route to a 10-2 victory.

For Willamette, the win, paired up with losses by George Fox University and Pacific Lutheran University earlier in the afternoon, helped solidify the Bearcats' spot as the number four seed in the Northwest Conference Tournament.

After scoring 16 runs in the first game, Linfield initiated the scoring in game two with a solo home run in the first inning.

Willamette knotted the score in the bottom of the third, when Kayla Rieger (Jr., OF, Anacortes, WA/Anacortes HS) scored from first base on a double by Heather Winslow (Jr., 1B, Oregon City, OR/Oregon City HS).

After freshman pitcher Jade Smith (Fr., Chico, CA/Chico HS) blanked Linfield in the top half of the fourth, the Bearcats erupted for five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Amanda Absher (Jr., C, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS) and Erin Norris (Jr., 3B/C, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) were both hit by pitches, setting the table for the big inning.

Following a Wildcat error that loaded the bases, Rieger drove home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Winslow significantly lengthened the lead two batters later, launching a bases-clearing double to make it 5-1. 

Trailing 6-1 in the sixth, Linfield scratched across a run on two hits to draw within four. That's as close as the Wildcats got, however, as Willamette separated itself in the home half of the frame.

The Bearcats loaded the bases for Winslow, who drove an RBI single to right field for her fourth hit of the afternoon. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Absher ended the game on the run rule with a three-RBI triple to right field.

Winslow was stellar at the plate, finishing four for four with two doubles and five RBIs. Jenna King (Jr., OF, Camarillo, CA/Adolfo Camarillo HS) and Absher each produced two hits apiece, with Absher's second hit serving as the knock out punch.

Smith got the win in the circle for Willamette. She pitched all six innings, allowing just five hits while striking out three.

For the Bearcats, this win notched the program's second victory over Linfield in as many years, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

The upset victory, a win over an archrival, and a postseason tournament bid are just a few of the reasons why this 10-2 triumph represented a great moment for the Willamette softball team.

Heather Winslow went 4 for 4 with two doubles and five runs batted in as the Bearcats stifled Linfield, 10-2.

Heather Winslow went 4 for 4 with two doubles and five runs batted in as the Bearcats stifled Linfield, 10-2.