Bearcats Sweep Whitworth, 17-3 and 6-4

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University swept a Northwest Conference doubleheader from Whitworth University on Saturday, April 19 at the WU Softball Field, winning the first game 17-3 on the run rule in five innings and taking the second game 6-4. The Bearcats upped their record to 22-6, including 16-4 in the NWC. Whitworth ended the day at 13-18 on the season, 10-9 in the NWC.

Nikki Franchi (Jr., RHP/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) recorded both pitching wins and improved to 16-2 on the season. She threw a complete game and allowed just three hits in the opener. She tossed the final four innings in the second game as WU rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

In the opener, Willamette connected for 13 hits and 14 RBIs. The Bearcats blasted three home runs during the game, including a grand slam by Katie Peterson (So., RF, Independence, OR/Central HS) that keyed a five-run second inning.

WU took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Franchi brought in one run with a double and Nicole Wallace (So., C/2B, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) drove in two runs with a single. After Peterson's home run, the 'Cats held an 8-0 lead. The margin expanded to 17-0 when Willamette plated nine runs on seven hits and two errors in the third.

Whitworth scored all three of its runs in the fourth inning. The first two scored on a home run by catcher Rachel Anderson and the third run crossed the plate on a double by Halley Cey.

Marissa Richards (Jr. 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) of Willamette was 3 for 4 with three runs and an RBI in the opener. Liz Gilgan (Sr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) homered to lead off the third inning and finished 2 for 3 with three runs and an RBI. Franchi went 2 for 3, scored three times and had three RBIs. Peterson and Wallace also earned to hits for the Bearcats.

The Pirates tallied one run in each of the first three innings to build a 3-1 lead in Game #2. Lacey Kerr hit an RBI double in the first inning and Josie Ball added an RBI double in the third. Willamette's run was scored by Gilgan in the first inning, when she walked, moved to second on a ground out, stole third and came home on an error.

Franchi moved from designated player to the mound with no outs and a runner at first in the fourth inning. She gave up just one hit until the top of the seventh, when Whitworth used three hits to score a run in its final at bat.

Willamette charged into the lead in the bottom of the sixth with five runs. LaShawna Holcomb (Jr., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) brought in the first run on a fielder's choice and two runs scored on a double by Peterson, as Willamette took a 4-3 lead. The final two runs reached home when Anderson dropped the ball at home plate following a bases-loaded grounder by Cirbi Anthony (Jr., LF, Vale, OR/Vale HS).

The Pirates outhit the Bearcats 10-7 in the nightcap, but Willamette turned a double play and Franchi struck out five batters in the final three innings.

Parry, Kerr and Ball each went 2 for 4 at the plate for Whitworth. Parry was the only player for either team to score twice. Richards went 2 of 4 for Willamette.

Willamette starter Amy Valencia (Fr., RHP, Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne East HS) received no decision. She allowed three runs and six hits in three innings of work. Jessie LaPlante of Whitworth suffered both losses in during the doubleheader.

The teams will conclude the four-game series on Sunday, April 20. Game time at the WU Softball Field is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 17, Whitworth University 3 (5 innings, run rule)

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 6, Whitworth University 4

Katie Peterson smacked a grand slam home run in the first game.

Katie Peterson smacked a grand slam home run in the first game.