Bearcats Score 24 Runs in Doubleheader Sweep of UPS

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- Willamette University trailed in both games, but scored 24 runs on the day, as the Bearcats swept a doubleheader from the University of Puget Sound, 7-2 and 17-7, Saturday, April 12 at the Logger Softball Field. Junior pitcher Nikki Franchi (Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) recorded both wins and also hit for the cycle in the second game.

Willamette improved to 18-4 on the season, including 12-2 in the Northwest Conference. Puget Sound dropped to 8-16 overall, 4-9 in the NWC.

In the first game, Willamette rallied from a 2-0 deficit after Valarie Barone hit a two-run homer for Puget Sound in the bottom of the first inning. The Bearcats scored one run in the top of the second and three runs in the third inning to take a 4-2 lead. WU added two runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh to close out the scoring.

LaShawna Holcomb (Jr., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) hit a solo home run to lead off the seventh inning for the Bearcats. It was her third home run of the season.

There were two outs in the third inning before WU started its three-run rally. Marissa Richards (Jr., 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) reached first on a fielding error in right field. Franchi, Holcomb and Katie Peterson (So., RF/C, Independence, OR/Central HS) followed with three consecutive singles.

Holcomb and Peterson each earned an RBI during the inning. Holcomb also scored on a throw to second, as the Loggers tried to throw out Peterson after failing to throw out Franchi at the plate.

On defense, Franchi struck out 14 batters, while allowing just one walk and four hits. Andi Doerflinger of UPS suffered the loss.

WU fell behind 7-4 in the second game, but Franchi threw the final 4 1/3 innings and held the Loggers no runs and just two hits. Her efforts in the circle allowed WU to rally with two runs in the fourth inning and eight runs in the sixth. The Bearcats added three additional runs in the top of the seventh.

Franchi's ability to hit for the cycle also helped Willamette rally. She doubled and scored on a homer by Holcomb in the first inning, then singled and scored again in the third. Franchi tacked on a triple and another run in the fourth inning, as WU pulled within 7-6.

She completed the cycle with a two-run homer to give WU the lead in the sixth, after Liz Gilgan (Sr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) tied the game with a lead-off homer and Marissa Richards (Jr., 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) singled.

Franchi's go-ahead blast was followed by two more homers in a row. Holcomb smacked her third homer of the day and Peterson belted her fifth homer of the season. WU hit a total of six home runs during the doubleheader, including five in the nightcap.

In addition to winning both games, Franchi (12-2) went 6 for 9 at the plate. She was 4 for 5 with four runs and four RBIs in the second game.

For the season, Franchi has achieved a 1.11 earned run average and 133 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. Entering the weekend, she led the nation in NCAA Division III with a .583 average, which increased to .594 with her efforts on Saturday.

Other top hitters for WU in the second game were Holcomb and Richards, Holcomb, Peterson and Nicole Wallace (So., C/2B, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS). Holcomb went 4 for 4 with two homers, three runs and four RBIs. Richards was 3 for 5 with three runs and an RBI. Peterson and Wallace contributed two hits apiece.

Willamette will play in Tacoma again on Sunday, April 13 and Monday, April 14. On Sunday, the Bearcats will take on Pacific Lutheran University in a doubleheader at 12 p.m. (PDT). On Monday, Willamette and Puget Sound will make up a doubleheader originally scheduled for March 15 at Willamette. WU will bat last in both games, with the action starting at 2 p.m. (PDT).

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 7, University of Puget Sound 2

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 17, University of Puget Sound 7

Nikki Franchi went 6 for 9 at the plate and improved her pitching record to 12-2 in WU's sweep of Puget Sound.

Nikki Franchi went 6 for 9 at the plate and improved her pitching record to 12-2 in WU's sweep of Puget Sound.