Willamette Defeats Elmhurst, 9-0, and Chapman, 8-3, at Sun West Tournament

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

ORANGE, CALIF. -- Nikki Franchi (Jr., RHP/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) hit a home run in each game, leading Willamette University to a pair of wins at the Sun West Tournament on Wednesday, March 26. The Bearcats routed Elmhurst College (Ill.), 9-0, on the run rule in 4 1/2 innings, and defeated host Chapman University, 8-3.

Willamette improved to 11-3 on the season. Elmhurst fell to 2-7 overall, while Chapman dropped to 20-8.

Franchi, who has pounded out four home runs this season, completed the day 5 of 7 at the plate. She drove in seven runs and scored three times. She also struck out five batters and allowed six hits to earn the pitching win against Chapman. She is 6-2 in the circle this year.

Amy Valencia (Fr., RHP, Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne East HS) recorded four strikeouts and allowed three walks in the win over Elmhurst. She improved to 3-0 on the season.

Against Elmhurst, the Bearcats got out of a jam in the top of the first inning. An error put a runner on base with two outs, then Amanda Bowlin hit a double for the Bluejays. Valencia walked Rachel Pietrucha to load the bases, but forced Rachel Hartman into a ground out to end the threat.

Willamette charged into the lead in the bottom of the inning with three hits and an error. Liz Gilgan (Sr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) hit a ground-rule double down the right field line to start the rally. Marissa Richards (Jr., 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) also doubled, allowing Gilgan to score.

Later in the inning, Richards came home when Katie Peterson (So., RF, Independence, OR/Central HS) reached base on an error. Nicole Wallace (So., C/2B, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) drove in the third run with an infield single.

WU tacked on one run in the second inning and plated five runs in the fourth. Richards drove in Gilgan in the second inning with a single up the middle.

Gilgan singled and scored again in the fifth inning on Franchi's two-run homer to right center. Wallace drove in the next run on a ground out with runners at second and third, and Crystal Kummerfeldt (Fr., 2B, Snohomish, WA/Jackson HS) added an RBI on a double to left center.

Valencia and the WU defense forced Elmhurst to leave two runners in scoring position during the second inning and the fourth inning. In the top of the fifth, Valencia gave up a single with one out, but retired the next two batters to end the game on the run rule.

Gilgan was 3 for 3 with three runs and three stolen bases in the win over the Bluejays. Franchi and Richards each went 2 for 3 with a run and two RBIs. Willamette outhit Elmhurst, 12-4, but Bowlin earned two hits, including a double, for the Bluejays.

The Bearcats posted two runs in the top of the first inning against Chapman and never trailed during the game. Chapman committed three errors and walked one batter in the opening stanza. Gilgan and Richards scored without Willamette earning a hit.

Franchi blasted a solo homer to center field in the third stanza, as WU increased its lead to 3-0. The Panthers chalked up one run in the bottom of the third, when Erin Dudzinski singled, stole second and scored on a single by Amanda Campbell.

Three runs in the fifth inning extended Willamette's advantage to 6-1. Franchi drove in one of the runs with a single and LaShawna Holcomb (Jr., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) brought home the other runs on a double to left center.

Each team tallied a pair of runs in the seventh. For Willamette, Gilgan and Richards both singled, then scored on a base hit by Franchi. For Chapman, both runs scored on a double by Dudzinski.

Franchi was 3 for 4 against Chapman with five RBIs and two runs scored. She helped the top three spots in Willamette's lineup go a combined 7 for 11 during the game. Richards went 2 for 3 and scored three runs, while Gilgan was 2 for 4 and also scored three runs.

Dudzinski and Hall each went 2 for 4 with a double for Chapman. Dudzinski also scored twice and recorded two RBIs.

Willamette is 3-1 in the Sun West Tournament. The Bearcats will complete the tournament with two games on Thursday, March 27. WU will take on Hope International University (Calif.) at 1 p.m. (PDT) and will play Wellesley College (Mass.) at 3:30 p.m. (PDT).

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Sun West Tournament in Orange, Calif.

Willamette University 9, Elmhurst College 0 (5 inn., run rule)

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 8, Chapman University 3

Nikki Franchi went 5 for 7 with two home runs, as WU won two games in California on March 26.

Nikki Franchi went 5 for 7 with two home runs, as WU won two games in California on March 26.