Linfield Edges Bearcats in Both Games of Doubleheader, 6-5 and 9-8

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

(SOFTBALL) SALEM, ORE. -- Linfield College came from behind in the first game, then held off Willamette University in the second game, as the Wildcats swept a Northwest Conference doubleheader from the Bearcats, 6-5 and 9-8, at the WU Softball Field on Saturday, March 3. Linfield, the defending NWC champion, moved to 2-0 overall, 2-0 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 1-2 on the season, 0-2 in the NWC.

In the first game, Linfield's Rochelle Friend scored on shortstop Meredith Brunette's sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh inning to provide the winning run. Willamette trailed 2-0 after Linfield plated single runs in each of the first two innings, but the Bearcats took a 5-2 lead with five runs in the bottom of the second. Liz Gilgan (Jr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) and Molly Barnes (Sr., 3B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) each hit a two-RBI double during the inning. Linfield gradually rallied, scoring one run in the fourth and two runs in the fifth, before producing the winning run in the Wildcats' final at bat.

Friend singled with a runner at first and no outs in the seventh. She moved to second on a fielder's choice that resulted in the lead runner being thrown out at third. Friend then advanced to third base on a single by Jenny Marshall. Brunette followed with the game-winning sacrifice fly.

In the second game, Willamette scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The fourth run was scored by Nikki Franchi (So., P/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) on a single to center field by Caitlin Waugh (Fr., OF, Lodi, CA/Tokay HS), but LaShawna Holcomb (So., OF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS), who started the play at second base, was thrown out at the plate. She rounded third, but slipped as she tried to reverse directions. She got up and continued home, where a solid throw from Stephanie Rice in center field reached Linfield catcher Jena Loop just before Holcomb slid into the plate.

Willamette's Franchi hit a 3-run homer to give WU a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Linfield tied the game with a home run by Rochelle Friend in the second inning and moved in front for good when Rice scored on an RBI double by Marshall later in the inning. Linfield added four runs in the third inning, including two on a homer by Jena Loop, to take an 8-3 lead. The Wildcats were in front 9-4 when Willamette began its seventh-inning rally. Franchi finished the game 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs for Willamette. Rice was 3 for 4 with a run scored and two RBIs for Linfield during the game.

The two teams will play another doubleheader on Sunday, March 4, but will be at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., for those two games. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PST).