Lutes sweep Willamette

TACOMA, Wash. - Pacific Lutheran, which has won 15 of the past 16 Northwest Conference softball championships, kept its hold on first place in the 2003 title chase with a Sunday afternoon doubleheader sweep
of the visiting Willamette Bearcats.

The Lutes rallied for a 6-5 first-game win then pounded out an 8-2 victory in the nightcap.

In winning its 10th and 11th consecutive games, PLU improved to 14-1 for the season and to 9-1 in Northwest Conference action. Willamette fell to 7-9 overall and 5-3 in the conference.

The visiting Bearcats held 3-0 and 5-3 leads in the first game but could not finish the Lutes, who used three home runs to get back into the contest. The Bearcats took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, making the most of one hit, three walks and a hit batter. Pacific Lutheran tied the score in the bottom of the fourth by way of the long ball. After Jenny Ferries opened the inning with her second consecutive double, Sara Shideler homered over the left field fence. One batter later, Gretchen Ruecker added a solo shot over the fence in left-centerfield.

Willamette used three hits, including an RBI double by Hayley Boston and a run-scoring single by Meredith Runyan, to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Again, the Lutes used a homer to rally, this time on a two-run shot by Resa Lee in the sixth inning.

By then PLU starting pitcher Jewel Koury had settled down, and she ended up retiring the final eight Willamette batters. Koury eventually scored the winning run in the seventh inning. She reached based on a throwing
error and came in on a two-out opposite field double by the left-handed hitting Ruecker.

One day after throwing a one-hitter against Linfield, Koury was not sharp but still improved her season pitching record to 8-1. She allowed six hits and five runs, four earned, while walking four and striking out three. The Lutes collected 10 hits in the game, including two each by Ferries, Shideler, Ruecker and Alicia Guerrero. For Willamette, Marcie Hagen and Kim Boscacci both had a pair of singles.

Freshman Candace Howard threw a complete game three-hitter for the Lutes in the nightcap. She allowed two runs, both earned, while walking five and striking out four.

The Lutes gave her all of the support she needed in the second inning, scoring three times on three hits and a Willamette error. PLU added another tally in the fourth on Koury's sixth homer of the year, and after Willamette cut its deficit to 4-2 on a two-run single by Boscacci in the fourth, Ruecker hit a two-run wind-blown homer over the
centerfield fence for PLU. The Lutes closed the scoring in the fifth inning on a two-run single by Andrea Wells.

Pacific Lutheran again collected 10 hits including two apiece by Wells and Kelsey Palaniuk. Wells drove in four runs and Ruecker added three RBI.

Willamette's Teren Edgecomb was the losing pitcher in both games.