Bearcats Split NWC Doubleheader with PLU

By Ryan Borde, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110,

SALEM, ORE. -- Liz Gilgan (Jr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) homered and pitcher Nikki Franchi (So., Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) held visiting Pacific Lutheran University to no runs and five hits, as Willamette University took the first game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader, 2-0, on Sunday, April 15 at the WU Softball Field. PLU scored three unearned runs in game two to claim a 3-0 win. Willamette is now 16-11 overall and 10-8 in the NWC, while PLU is 12-13 overall, 6-12 in the NWC.

Gilgan proved to be the difference offensively in game one for Willamette. The Lutes outhit Willamette, 5-3, in the first game, but Gilgan hit a solo home run, her second of the season, in the third inning that gave the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning Gilgan manufactured a run by herself that put WU up 2-0. With two outs, Gilgan walked before stealing both second and third base. She eventually scored on wild pitch.

Franchi, meanwhile, held the Lutes down until the seventh inning, before they finally were able to threaten WU’s lead. With two outs and a runner on first, Vanessa Bryant and Hadley Schmitt hit back-to-back singles for PLU that loaded the bases. But Franchi was able to strike out pinch hitter Ashley Lopez to end the game.

Franchi pitched seven innings, gave up no walks and struck out 10 PLU batters. She upped her record to 9-5 on the year with the win.

Gilgan was a perfect 2 for 2 at the plate for WU. In addition to her home run, she also hit a double leading off the bottom of the first inning. Nicole Wallace (Fr., 2B/Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) had the Bearcats only other hit of the game.

Schmitt took the loss for the Lutes, and dropped to 7-8 on the year. In six innings of work she gave up three hits, two earned runs and one walk while striking out 10.

In the second game, the Lutes scored an unearned run in the first inning, and then tacked on two more unearned runs in the sixth, for a 3-0 win. Cassie Canales went the distance on the mound for PLU, holding Willamette to only four hits. She walked two and struck out four while evening her record at 5-5.

Willamette pitcher Leighann Auer (Fr., RHP, Independence, OR/Central HS) worked her way out of several tight situations, but took the loss to fall to 4-4 on the year. She pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, three unearned runs and three walks. She finished with three strike outs.

PLU was able to load the bases with one out in the third inning, but Auer got back-to-back outs to escape that threat. In the fifth, PLU got its first two batters on base with a walk and a single. Auer, though, got out of that jam by recording three straight outs on a strike out, a foul out and a pop fly.

The Lutes added to their lead in the sixth by scoring two more runs, both coming with two outs, when Beth Kenck singled home Brenna Archibald and Heather Walling. Archibald was running for Karen Henjum, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, while Walling reached base with an infield single.

Willamette put together a rally of their own in the seventh inning. With two down, Geneva Hale (Jr., 1B, Shoreline, WA/Shorecrest HS) doubled to right center before LaShawna Holcomb (So., OF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) singled through the left side of the infield. Holcomb advanced to second on the throw in from left field, putting runners on second and third. WU’s next batter, Marissa Richards, looked to have an infield single, but Holcomb was called out for running into PLU shortstop Carly Starke, to end the game.

Molly Barnes (Sr., 3B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS), Gilgan and Holcomb each went 1 for 3 for Willamette in game two, while Hale was 1 for 2.

Besides Kenck, Walling was the only other PLU player to collect more than one hit, as she was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Bryant was 1 for 2 and Strake hit 1 for 3.

Willamette plays its next six games on the road, beginning with an NWC doubleheader at George Fox University this Tuesday (April 17) at 2 p.m. (PDT). The two teams were originally slated to play on April 7, but rain forced the games to be rescheduled.

Game #1 - Willamette University 2, Pacific Lutheran University 0 - Box Score
Game #2 - Pacific Lutheran University 3, Willamette University 0 - Box Score

Liz Gilgan scored both runs, including a solo homer, in Willamette's 2-0 win over Pacific Lutheran.

Liz Gilgan scored both runs, including a solo homer, in Willamette's 2-0 win over Pacific Lutheran.