Softball Opens Season with 1-1 Split at Northwest Cup

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

CLACKAMAS, ORE. -- Willamette University's softball team opened the 2010 season with a 1-1 split in their first set of games at the Northwest Cup. Willamette dropped the first game to tournament host Concordia University (Ore.), 5-4. The Bearcats battled back to win the second game, 7-2, against Northwest Christian University.

In their first game, Willamette put three runs on the board in the top of the 6th to take a 4-1 lead. Mica Romero (SS, So., Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian HS), Carolyn Cava (OF, So., Salinas, CA/Robert L. Stevenson HS) and Talissa Huntsman (UTIL, So., Richland, WA/Richland HS) each scored for WU. All three runs were unearned.

The Bearcats were unable to hold their lead, however, as Concordia bounced back to score three runs of their own in the bottom of the 6th to tie the game, 4-4.

After a scoreless 7th for Willamette, Concordia got a game-winning single from Robin Gawlista in the bottom of the inning. Ali Paz scored the winning run. There were two outs and one runner left on base when the game ended.

The Bearcats found a way to score four runs despite only having three hits in the game. Sophomore Sierra Lessel (OF, So., Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) went 2 for 3 and stole two bases. Nichole Robertson (OF, So., Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS) went 1 for 3 with a run.

Alex Watilo (P, So., Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) started the game for the Bearcats. She went six innings, giving up eight hits and four runs, all earned. Watilo struck out three batters. Huntsman took the loss for WU after pitching in the bottom of the 7th. Huntsman gave up two hits and one run.

After the victory, Concordia University moved to 3-0 on the season. Willamette dropped to 0-1.

In the second game, Willamette scored in the 1st inning on an RBI single by Huntsman. Lessel scored on the play for WU to tie the score at 1-1.

Willamette broke open the game in the second inning, scoring three runs on three hits. After singles by Robertson and Lessel, Jessica Barry (OF, So., Cupertino, CA/Univ. of Nevada-Las Vegas) reached based on a fielder's choice. Robertson scored on the play. Lessel scored on an RBI single from Romero. The Bearcats got their third run after Barry stole third and scored on a passed ball.

WU continued to play aggressive offense in the 5th inning, adding three more runs to push the lead to 7-1. The Bearcats benefited from two hits and one error in the inning. Nicole Wallace (C, Sr., Roseville, CA/Roseville HS) pounded a double to right field to score all three runs.

For the game, Willamette scored seven runs on nine hits. The Bearcats stole six bases during the game. Wallace finished the game 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a stolen base. Lessel was 1 for 2 with two runs, a stolen base and a walk. Romero provided WU with two hits, an RBI and a stolen base.

Bri Compton (P, Jr., Kalispell, MT/Wenatchee Valley CC) got the win on the mound for WU in her first start as a Bearcat. Compton pitched five innings, struck out five hitters and gave up just one run.

The Bearcats are 1-1 for the season. WU is back in action on Sunday, Feb. 21. Willamette will play the College of Idaho and British Columbia. Game times are set for 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (PST) at Hood View Park in Clackamas, Ore.

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE
Concordia University 5
Willamette University 4
GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 7
Northwest Christian University 2
Sierra Lessel went 3 for 5 with two runs scored during the Bearcats' two games on Feb. 20.

Sierra Lessel went 3 for 5 with two runs scored during the Bearcats' two games on Feb. 20.

Senior Nicole Wallace drove in three runs with a double in the fifth inning against Northwest Christian.

Senior Nicole Wallace drove in three runs with a double in the fifth inning against Northwest Christian.