Franchi Throws Two-Hitter, as WU Sweeps Pacific, 3-0 and 2-1

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Sophomore pitcher Nikki Franchi (Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) threw a two-hit shutout and senior third baseman Molly Barnes (Salem, OR/Sprague HS) belted a two-run homer, as Willamette University took a 3-0 win over Pacific University in the first game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader, Saturday, April 28 at the WU Softball Field. Willamette completed the sweep by rallying from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 victory in the second game. Cirbi Anthony (So., CF, Vale, OR/Vale HS) scored the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Willamette upped its record to 19-16, including 13-13 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific fell to 24-12 overall, 16-10 in the NWC.

Barnes' home run went over the left field fence with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. It was her seventh homer of the season, tying the Willamette record, set by Geneva Hale (Jr., DP/1B, Shoreline, WA/Shorecrest HS) earlier this month. Pinch-runner Samantha Mix (Fr., IF, Cupertino, CA/King's Academy) also scored on the play, as Willamette increased its slim 1-0 lead into a 3-0 margin.

Franchi battled out of a jam in the top of the sixth. With one out Kelly Nishitomi singled to left field and Caitlin Mastenbroek walked. Franchi struck out Brooke Fogwell for the second out, but hit Kristin Larkins with a pitch to load the bases. Pacific left the bases loaded when Amy Walters struck out to end the inning.

LaShawna Holcomb (So., 2B/OF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) singled and Marissa Richards (So., C, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) provided a sacrifice bunt to start the bottom of the sixth, but the Bearcats were unable to score an additional run. Franchi quickly secured the win in the top of the seventh, as she faced just three batters during the inning.

Franchi, who struck out seven Boxers, improved to 10-7 on the season. Both of Pacific's hits were recorded by Nishitomi, who recorded an infield single in the third inning before adding another single in the sixth. For Willamette, Barnes went 2 for 2, as she earned half of the Bearcats' four hits. Holcomb's single and a double by Franchi were WU's only other hits.

Pacific pitcher Miranda McNealy fell to 13-6 with the loss in Game #1. McNealy struck out 11 batters and allowed four walks. She fell behind 1-0 early in the game, when Wallace walked with one out in the first inning and eventually scored on Franchi's double.

In the second game, neither team produced a run until the top of the fifth inning. The Boxers moved in front when Kristen Croxford singled with on out, stole second with two outs and crossed the plate on a single up the middle by Mastenbroek. WU starter Leighann Auer (Fr., RHP, Independence, OR/Central HS) ended the threat by striking out Fogwell.

WU tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony recorded an infield hit, but was thrown out trying to steal second base at the end of the play. With two outs, Liz Gilgan (Jr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) pounded a triple to right center. Wallace followed with an RBI single up the middle.

Pacific left a runner at first base in the top of the sixth. In Willamette's next at bat, Franchi singled and Holcomb provided a sacrifice bunt, but the Bearcats were unable to produce a run.

Casey Jarzombek-Clark (Jr., RHP, Aloha, OR/Aloha HS) went to the circle for the Bearcats at the start of the seventh inning. She struck out Walters, but Croxford followed with a double to left field. Nishitomi grounded out to third base, as Croxford moved to third with two outs. Jarzombek-Clark got Mastenbroek to fly out to left field, with Katie Peterson (Fr., OF/C, Independence, OR/Central HS) snagging the ball near the warning track.

Anthony started Willamette's half of the seventh inning by sending the ball over the second baseman for a single to right field. Debra Bohren (Fr., RF, Tillamook, OR/Tillamook HS) tacked on a bunt single, putting runners at first and second with no outs. Gilgan grounded out to first base, as the runners moved to second and third.

Wallace batted next and hit the ball slowly toward first. Pitcher Andrea Bansen grabbed the ball and threw home, but just missed Anthony sliding into the plate with the winning run.

Anthony was 3 for 3 during the game, while Wallace went 2 for 4 and earned both RBIs for the Bearcats. For Pacific, Croxford was 2 for 4 with a run scored and Mastenbroek was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Willamette outhit Pacific, 8-7.

Jarzombek-Clark improved to 4-2 with the win. Auer, who threw six complete innings, struck out five batters and allowed six hits. Bansen recorded four strikeouts and three walks, while falling to 8-5 on the season.

Willamette and Pacific will conclude the four-game series on Sunday, April 29, with another doubleheader. The first game is set to begin at 12 p.m. (PDT). It will be the final two games of the season for both teams.

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