Franchi Strikes Out 10 Batters, as Willamette Wins First Game with Puget Sound, 2-0

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Sophomore pitcher Nikki Franchi (Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) allowed just three hits and struck out 10 batters, leading Willamette University to a 2-0 victory over the University of Puget Sound in the first game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader at the WU Softball Field. In the second game, UPS plated five runs in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie, as the Loggers claimed a 6-1 win. Willamette ended the doubleheader with a 15-10 overall record, 9-7 in the NWC. Puget Sound moved to 17-13 overall, 6-12 in the NWC.

Willamette recorded eight hits in the opener, as Molly Barnes (Sr., 3B, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) went 3 for 3 with an RBI. Barnes drove in Liz Gilgan (Jr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) with a single in the first inning for a 1-0 Bearcat lead. WU's second run was scored by LaShawna Holcomb (So., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS), who hit into a fielder's choice, stole second and reached home on a single by Franchi in the third inning.

Meanwhile, Franchi held the Loggers to just three hits in Game #1. She struck out three batters in the fourth inning and kept the Loggers off the scoreboard in the fifth inning despite allowing two singles. After giving up the second hit with two outs, Franchi caused Lindsay Fujita to fly out to right field to end the threat.

Franchi earned the win in the first game and took the loss in relief in Game #2. She ended the day with an 8-5 pitching record. Adrian Herlache, who threw a complete game for UPS in the first game, fell to 7-8. Jessica Roberts improved to 4-3 for the Loggers by winning the second game.

Both teams were scoreless in Game #2 until UPS scored a run in the top of the fifth. Kelli Ishii opened the inning with a double and moved to third on a ground out. After Fujita was intentionally walked, Victoria Raeburn single up the middle to drive in Ishii.

WU answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth, after Gilgan tripled to right field with one out. She scored on a wild pitch, before the Loggers recorded back-to-back ground outs to end the inning.

The five-run fifth inning began with Noelle Vallecorsa walking on a full-count pitch. Nikki Winkley followed with a two-run homer just over the left field fence. It was Winkley's first homer of the season and gave USP a 3-1 lead.

With a runner on first and two outs, Fujita reached base on an error at shortstop. A passed ball allowed the runners to advance to second and third, then Raeburn hit a two-run double to center. Annie Buxton drove in the final run with a double to left field. The Loggers recorded four hits during the inning, while sending nine batters to the plate.

Franchi singled and Geneve Hale (Jr., 1B, Shoreline, WA/Shorecrest HS) walked with one out in the sixth, but the Bearcats failed to score. In the bottom of the seventh, Debra Bohren (Fr., RB, Tillamook, OR/Tillamook HS) walked to open the stanza. Gilgan followed with a solid line drive to right field, but it went straight at Winkley, who made the catch for the first out. Nicole Wallace (Fr., 2B, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) walked, giving WU runners at first and second. Roberts of UPS, forced a pop-up and a ground out to end the game.

Ishii was 2 for 4 with two runs for the Loggers in the second game. Raeburn went 2 for 4 with a run and three RBIs, while Winkley and Vallecorsa each finished the game 2 for 3. The Loggers outhit the Bearcats, 12-4.

Gilgan, Barnes, Franchi and Hale each registered a hit in Game #2 for the Bearcats. Barnes was was 4 for 7 during the doubleheader.

Willamette remains at home on Sunday, April 15 to take on Pacific Lutheran University in an NWC doubleheader. First pitch in the opening game is scheduled for 12 p.m. (PDT). WU and PLU split a doubleheader in Tacoma, Wash., on April 1, with the Bearcats winning the first game 8-0 on the run rule in five innings and the Lutes taking the second game 4-3 in nine innings.

Game #1 - Willamette University 2, University of Puget Sound 0 -- Box Score
Game #2 - University of Puget Sound 6, Willamette University 1 - Box Score