Softball Kicks Off Season Hosting Capitol Cup; Bearcats Play Twice Friday With Singles Games Saturday and Sunday

Led by a core of returning veterans, including the three top pitchers from a year ago, the Willamette University softball team kicks off its season Friday with a pair of games to open the Capitol Cup.

The annual eight-team tournament will be held at Willamette and George Fox University over the weekend. The Bearcats get things started Friday with games against Eastern Oregon (11:30 am) and OIT (2 pm). Willamette plays Saturday at 2 pm against Concordia and Sunday at 2 pm versus Corban College.

Coach Damian Williams enters his eighth season with perhaps the deepest pitching staff he’s enjoyed. Last year’s top pitchers, Brittany Tachara (10-6, 2.61 era), Laura Milne (9-3, 2.09 era) and NCAA saves leader Brittany Dearing (11 saves, 3.18 era)will team with talented newcomers including Nikki Franchi, Blair Cuny and Casey Jarzombeck-Clark to form a talented and deep pitching staff.

On the field, All-NWC first team third baseman Molly Barnes leads an experience infield. Barnes, who hit .301 with 14 runs and 12 RBI, will team with catcher Cari Schruth (.311, 12 RBI, 20 runs scored and 19 stolen bases), Geneva Hale at first base and Marianne Ward at second.

The outfield is completely new, with freshmen Bailey Harris, LaShawna Holcomb and Cirbi Anthony getting the opening day starts.

“We’ve got great new talent teaming up with a some very good veterans,” said Williams, whose team finished second in the NWC a year ago. “I am very excited about this team. We are young and hungry. Our pitching makes us very strong and able to compete for the NWC title.”

Other teams competing in the tournament include George Fox, Pacific, OIT, Eastern, NW Christian, Corban and Concordia.

The Bearcats, picked again to finish second in the conference, open NWC play against two-time defending NWC champ, Linfield. Willamette travels to Linfield for a pair of games Saturday, March 4 before hosting the Wildcats on Sunday, March 5 in another twin-bill. Both doubleheaders start at noon.