Linfield Sweeps Doubleheader from Bearcats

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Linfield College, ranked #2 in NCAA Division III, defeated 10th-ranked Willamette University in both games of a Northwest Conference doubleheader, winning 3-0 and 13-5 at the WU Softball Field on Saturday, April 25. Linfield improved to 35-3 overall, 25-1 in the NWC. The Bearcats dropped to 28-5 on the season, 21-5 in the NWC.

By sweeping the doubleheader, Linfield clinched the NWC championship. Willamette remained in second place. The teams will complete the four-game series with a doubleheader at Linfield on Sunday, April 26, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT).

The Wildcats received a strong pitching performance from Brittany Miller in the first game. She struck out 13 Bearcats and allowed just two hits. She improved to 13-1 on the season.

Linfield took a 1-0 lead when catcher Emilee Lepp hit a solo home run with two outs in the first inning. Candice Fujino added a solo homer in the second inning to increase the lead to 2-0.

The score remained the same until the top of the sixth. Lepp doubled to start the inning, then scored when Staci Doucette's fly ball was misplayed in right field.

WU pitcher Nikki Franchi (Sr., RHP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) gave up six hits and recorded two strikeouts. She fell to 15-2 with the loss.

Marissa Richards (Sr., 1B, Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) and Talissa Huntsman (Fr., DH, Richland, WA/Richland HS) earned Willamette's two hits in the opener, as each went 1 for 2 at the plate. Richards singled and stole second with one out in the fourth inning. She was left on base when Miller forced a pop-up and a strikeout. Huntsman led off the sixth with a single to right field, but Miller got out of the inning without allowing a run.

Lepp was 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI for Linfield. Alex Hartman also went 2 for 3.

Linfield tallied three runs in the first inning of the second game. Two hits and three Willamette errors contributed to the successful start for the Wildcats. Emily Keagbine drove the final two runs of the inning with a single to center.

Two hits and an error resulted in two more runs for the Wildcats in the top of the third, as Linfield took a 5-0 lead.
The Bearcats countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Suzannah Von Trapp (Fr., 3B, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) singled and stole second. She scored on a single by Sierra Lessel (Fr., OF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS). Lessel crossed the plate on a single by richards.

Willamette cut the lead to 5-4 with a run in the fourth and one more in the fifth. Nicole Wallace (Jr., C, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) singled and scored on a double to left by Von Trapp in the fourth. Wallace drove in Mica Romero (Fr., SS, Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian HS) with a squeeze bunt in the fifth.

The Wildcats tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, but WU pulled within 6-5 by scoring once in the bottom of the inning. Linfield's run was scored by Fujino, who doubled and later reached the plate on a single by Jaydee Baxter. Lessel doubled and later scored for Willamette on an RBI single by Franchi.

Linfield pulled away with seven runs in the top of the seventh. The inning included a three-run homer by Lepp and a solo homer by Doucette. Only one of the runs was earned, as WU committed its fifth error of the game during the stanza.

Samantha Van Noy improved to 6-0 with the win for Linfield. Miller was the fourth pitcher for LC when she enterd the game with two outs in the sixth inning. She finished the game to earn a save. Alex Watilo (Fr., RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) moved to 13-3 with the loss.

The teams combined for 30 hits in Game #2. Linfield had 18 hits, led by Doucette and Fujino, who both went 3 for 4. Baxter was 3 for 5. Lepp drove in three runs, while Doucette scored three times.

Willamette pounded out 12 hits. Lessel was 3 for 4, scored twice and registered one RBI. Franchi and Von Trapp each contributed two hits in three at bats. Wallace was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. LaShawna Holcomb (Sr., CF, Renton, WA/Hazen HS) hit a double and was 1 for 4.

The doubleheader provided the final home games for the four seniors on Willamette's squad: Franchi, Richard, Holcomb and Cirbi Anthony (LF, Vale, OR/Vale HS). They were honored with a special ceremony prior to the start of the second game.

Linfield College 3
Willamette University 0
Linfield College 13
Willamette University 5
Nicole Wallace was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI in the second game.

Nicole Wallace was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI in the second game.