Bearcats Pull Away from Pirates in First Game, 13-0

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

SPOKANE, WASH. -- The Willamette University softball team led 3-0 after five innings, then pulled away to rout Whitworth University, 13-0, in the first game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Saturday, April 18. Whitworth won the second game, 1-0, behind a one-hitter from pitcher Jessica Mangis.

Willamette, ranked #7 in NCAA Division III, ended the day at 26-3 overall, 19-3 in the NWC. Whitworth went to 15-15 overall, 11-9 in the NWC. The Bearcats and the Pirates will concluded the series with a doubleheader on Sunday, April 19, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT).

In the opener, Nikki Franchi (Sr., RHP/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) of Willamette struck out 10 batters and limited Whitworth to three hits, as she improved to 14-1 on the season. The 'Cats plated four runs in the sixth inning and added six runs in the seventh. Marissa Richards (Sr., 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) belted the game's only home runs with a two-run shot in the third inning and another two-run blast in the seventh.

LaShawna Holcomb (Sr., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) earned the only triple of the first game. The three-base hit went into center field when Holcomb led off the sixth inning. Holcomb scored on a squeeze bunt by Susie Krewer (Fr., 2B, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS). The inning also featured a three-RBI double by Sierra Lessel (Fr., RF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS).

WU built its 3-0 advantage with a run in the first inning and two more in the third. In the first, Richards walked with one out. She scored on a double to center field by Franchi. In the third stanza, Lessel hit a lead-off single, stole second and scored on Richards' first home run of the game.

Franchi walked five Pirates and hit two batters, but Whitworth couldn't overcome her 10 strikeouts. The Pirates had their best chance to score in the fourth inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, a single and a hit batter. Franchi forced a pop-up, a strikeout and another pop-up to end the threat. She recorded back-to-back strikeouts with runners at first and second with one out in the fifth.

The Bearcats outhit the Pirates, 10-3, in the opener. Richard was 2 for 4 with three runs and four RBIs. Lessel went 3 for 5, drove in five runs and scored twice. Suzannah Von Trapp (Fr., 3B, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) was 1 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs.

Mandee Edwards had the only extra-base hit of the first game for Whitworth. She doubled to start the third inning, but was left at third three outs later. Sami Parr and Ashley Carey each earned a single for the Pirates

Kelsey Ayers suffered the loss for Whitworth and went to 5-8 overall. She recorded three strikeouts, gave up six walks and hit two batters.

Whitworth broke a scoreless deadlock in the fifth inning of the second game. The Pirates, who had four hits during the contest, registered two of them in the fifth. Caty Lieseke singled to start the stanza. A sacrifice bunt by Carrie Gibson, moved Lieseke to second. She moved to third on a ground out by McKenzie Stuby and scored on a single by Edwards.

The game hinged on the only Willamette hit of the contest. With runners at first and second and two outs in the sixth inning, Franchi singled into right field. Cirbi Anthony (Sr., LF, Vale, OR/Vale HS) attempted to score from second, but was thrown out in a run-down between third and home. The 'Cats hit into two fly outs and a pop-up in the seventh.

Mangis improved to 10-7 with the win. She struck out six batters and allowed three walks. Lieseke was 2 for 2 for the Pirates. Alex Watilo (Fr., RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) fell to 12-2 with the loss, despite throwing a four-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks.

With the split, the Bearcats are two games out of first place in the loss column in the NWC standings. Linfield College leads the NWC with a 20-1 conference record after splitting a doubleheader at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., on Saturday. The Wildcats won the second game, 3-1, after losing the opener to the Boxers, 4-0.

Willamette University 13
Whitworth University 0
Whitworth University 1
Willamette University 0
Marissa Richards pounded out a pair of two-run homers in the first game.

Marissa Richards pounded out a pair of two-run homers in the first game.

LaShawna Holcomb hit a triple and scored a run in the first game

LaShawna Holcomb hit a triple and scored a run in the first game