Bearcats Rally in Second Game to Split Doubleheader with Puget Sound

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

(SOFTBALL) TACOMA, WASH. -- Willamette University scored three runs in its final at bat of the second game to defeat the University of Puget Sound, 5-3, and salvage a split in a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Saturday, March 31. Puget Sound won the first game, 3-1, despite being outhit 5-4 in a defensive battle.

The Bearcats, ranked #6 in the NFCA Top 25 Poll for NCAA Division III, ended the day at 12-7 overall, 6-4 in the NWC. Puget Sound finished the doubleheader with a 16-6 overall record, 5-5 in the NWC.

Puget Sound led 3-1 after three innings of the second game, but Willamette scored once in the sixth inning to pull within a single run, then surged ahead in the top of the seventh. Liz Gilgan (Jr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS), Geneva Hale (Jr., Shoreline, WA/Shorecrest HS) and Debra Bohren (Fr., RF, Tillamook, OR/Tillamook HS) each hit a double during the game. Gilgan led the offense for Willamette in Game #2, as she was 3 for 4 with two runs scored.

Gilgan started the seventh inning by hitting an infield single toward third base. She reached second base on a sacrifice bunt by Nicole Wallace (Fr., C, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS). Gilgan advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored the tying run on another wild pitch. Hale drove in the Bearcats' final two runs with a bases-loaded single to center field with one out in in the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Lindsay Fujita was the first batter for UPS. She singled, then remained at first when Victoria Raeburn flied out to to center field. Adrian Herlache hit an infield single, advancing Fujita to second. Valarie Barone walked to load the bases. The next batter, Annie Buxton, lined out to second base and Herlache was unable to tag up in time, as the Bearcats ended the game with a double play.

Hale went 2 for 4 and earned two RBIs. Center fielder LaShawna Holcomb (So., Renton, WA/Hazen HS) went 1 for 3 and scored twice. The Bearcats outhit the Loggers, 8-6, but Fujita was 3 for 4 for UPS with a homer and two RBIs. Fujita also homered during the Loggers' victory in Game #1.

Willamette won the second game despite striking out seven times on offense and allowing six walks on defense. UPS also struggled with control in the circle, as the Loggers issued six walks to Willamette batters. Relief pitcher Casey Jarzombek-Clark (Jr., RHP, Aloha, OR/Aloha HS) improved to 3-1 with the win. She registered two strikeouts and walks two batters in 3 2/3 innings. Jessica Roberts was the losing pitcher for the Loggers, as she fell to 3-1.

Nikki Franchi (So., RHP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) suffered the loss for Willamette in the opener. She fell to 5-3 overall, despite pitching a four-hitter against the Loggers. Herlache improved to 7-4 with the win for UPS.

The Loggers scored the game's first three runs with single tallies in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Fujita hit an RBI double in the third, Barone doubled and pinch-runner Amelia Kurashige-Elliott scored later in the fourth inning and Fujita hit her first home run of the day in the fifth.

Willamette scored its only run of the second game in the sixth stanza. Wallace walked to open the inning and moved to third when Holcomb singled with one out. Wallace was thrown out at home on a double steal. Holcomb scored on a double to right field by Franchi.

Fujita was 2 for 3 with a run and two RBIs in the first game, as she provided half of the Loggers' hits during the contest. Five Willamette players each recorded one hit for the Bearcats, including the double by Franchi and a double by Molly Barnes (Sr., 3B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) with two outs in the fourth inning.

Willamette will remain in Tacoma, Wash., to play Pacific Lutheran University in a doubleheader on Sunday, April 1, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). Pacific Lutheran's doubleheader with Pacific University was postponed on Saturday due to wet grounds, so the status of the Willamette-PLU doubleheader remains uncertain.

Game #1 - University of Puget Sound 3, Willamette University 1 - Box Score
Game #2 - Willamette University 5, University of Puget Sound 3 - Box Score

Geneva Hale drove in the go-ahead runs in Willamette's 5-3 win over Puget Sound.

Geneva Hale drove in the go-ahead runs in Willamette's 5-3 win over Puget Sound.