Bearcats Shut Down Thunderbirds in Exhibition Sweep of British Columbia

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Nikki Franchi (Sr., RHP/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) struck out 16 batters in the first game and Alex Watilo (Fr., RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) allowed just three hits, in the second game, as Willamette recorded a pair of shutouts against the University of British Columbia, 5-0 and 8-0, in exhibition games played on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the WU Softball Field. The second game ended on the run rule after WU extended a 2-0 lead by tallying six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The team representing the University of British Columbia is a club team at this time. The Thunderbirds are set to begin varsity play next season.

Willamette scored three runs in the first inning of the opener, then added single runs in the third and sixth stanzas. In addition to striking out 16 batters, Franchi allowed just one walk and gave up three hits. All three hits were singles.

Sierra Lessel (Fr., RF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) opened the first stanza with a single through the right side. She stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. The bases were loaded one out later following a hit batter and a walk. A wild pitch brought home Lessel, and an error by catcher throwing to third base, allowed Marissa Richards (Sr., 1B/C, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) to score. LaShawna Holcomb (Sr., CF, Renton, WA/Haven HS) scored on a ground out by Susie Krewer (Fr., DP/LF, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS).

Lessel also scored in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Holcomb. WU added its final run in the sixth inning, when Holcomb doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Cirbi Anthony (Sr., LF, Vale, OR/Vale HS) and scored on a wild pitch.

Leading hitters for WU in the first game were Lessel, Richards and Holcomb. Lessel was 2 for 2 an scored twice. Richards was 2 for 2 and also scored a run. Holcomb was 1 for 1 with a walk, two runs and an RBI.

In the second game, WU amassed a total of 11 hits, but didn't score until the fourth inning, when the 'Cats plated two runs, including a solo homer by Susie Krewer (Fr., LF, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS).

Willamette pulled away in the fifth inning. The game ended on the run rule with one out in the inning, when Krewer scored on a single by Nicole Wallace (Jr., C, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) to give WU an 8-0 lead.

Also earning RBIs in the fifth inning were Richards on a sacrifice fly, Holcomb with her second double of the afternoon and Krewer on a two-run double to left center. The other run advanced home on a throwing error.

Four Bearcats recorded two hits during the game. Krewer was 2 for 2 with two runs and three RBIs. Holcomb was 2 for 2 with a run scored and two RBIs. Lessel and Wallace each went 2 for 3. Watilo struck out four Thunderbirds and did not allow a walk.

Willamette will open Northwest Conference play when the Bearcats host a pair of doubleheaders against Pacific University next weekend. The games will be played on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, with the action starting at 12 p.m. (PST) each day.

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 5
University of British Columbia 0

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 8
University of British Columbia 0
5 innings, run rule
Nikki Franchi struck out 16 batters in the first of two exhibition games against the University of British Columbia.

Nikki Franchi struck out 16 batters in the first of two exhibition games against the University of British Columbia.