Willamette Scores Late to Steal Two Wins From George Fox

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University softball team used late runs in both games to capture two victories over visiting George Fox University on Sunday, April 11. Willamette broke a 6-6 tie with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 7-6 win in the first game of the Northwest Conference doubleheader. In the second game, WU scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to break another tie and win, 3-2.

Willamette is now 23-7 overall and 15-3 in the NWC. George Fox moved to 9-20 overall and 3-14 in the NWC.

The Bearcats jumped out to an early lead in the first game thanks to solid pitching from Alex Watilo (So., P, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) and timely hitting. WU scored five runs in the first two innings and earned six hits.

Talissa Huntsman (So., 3B, Richland, WA/Richland HS) smashed a two-run home run to right center in the first inning, while Kelli Snyder ((Fr., C, Longview, WA/Kelso HS) added an RBI single. Sierra Lessel (So., OF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) and Nichole Robertson (So., OF, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS) each produced an RBI hit in the second inning.

George Fox battled back and had its own big inning in the top of the third when the Bruins plated five runs on three hits. Shelby Briske and Becka Doyle each hit home runs during the rally. The Bruins captured a 6-5 lead after 2 1/2 innings.

Willamette scored one run in the fourth inning to even the score at 6-6. Susie Krewer (So., 2B, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS) hit a double to left field with one out. After advancing to third on an infield out, Krewer later scored on a comeback to the GFU pitcher that resulted in an error.

Watilo, who ended with the game with 136 pitches, appeared to get stronger as the game unfolded. She did not allow a hit in the final four innings.

Willamette needed one run in the bottom of the sixth to take a lead into the final inning. With two outs, Krewer singled to left field. Carolyn Cava (So., Salinas, CA/Robert Louis Stevenson HS), who is know for her speed on the bases, pinch ran for Krewer. Lessel smacked a double that scored Cava all the way from first base. The Bearcats took a 7-6 lead on the play and maintained it in the seventh inning to earn the victory.

Watilo pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out four. The win moved Watilo's season record to 9-3.

Erin Lee picked up the loss for the Bruins. Lee allowed ten hits and seven runs in six innings of work.

After a high scoring first game, it was the pitchers who flexed their muscles in the second game. Willamette's Huntsman and George Fox's Taylor Whitmore held both teams scoreless through three innings. Bats finally came alive in the fourth inning.

The Bruins scored first, when Nicole Renteria hit a single to lead off the inning and later scored off an RBI single from Bethany Chriss.

Willamette answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the fourth. Robertson led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a Bri Compton (Jr., DP, Kalispell, MT/Wenatchee Valley CC) walk, Romero hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Robertson.

Once again, GFU responded, adding a run in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. The Bruins did not lead for long. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, Bruin pitcher Erin Lee threw a wild pitch that scored Kiley Herrick (Fr., PR, Colusa, CA/Colusa HS) from third.

The Bruins had a huge scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh with runners on first and third and no outs. Huntsman then retired three straight GFU hitters, with an infield popup, a strikeout and a fly out to left field to end the threat.

In the bottom of the seventh, Huntsman led off and reached base on an error by the GFU first baseman. Krewer dropped a sacrifice bunt to move her over to second. Jessica Barry (So., OF, Cupertino, CA/Monte Vista HS) pushed a single through the left side to score Huntsman and give the Bearcats a 3-2 victory.

Huntsman earned the victory in the circle for WU. The sophomore pitcher threw a complete game and allowed just six hits and two runs. She walked one batter and struck out six.

Erin Lee picked up the loss in relief for George Fox. Lee pitched the final two innings. She allowed just two hits and one run, but that was all Willamette needed to steal the win from the Bruins. The loss was Lee's second of the day and moved her season record to 7-9.

The Bearcats maintain their position in second place in the NWC. WU travels to Linfield College for a pair of games on Saturday, April 17. The two teams will play two more games on Sunday, April 18. All four games will be played in McMinnville, Ore. Action is set to begin at 12 p.m. (PDT) each day.

Linfield is currently 17-1 in the NWC and in first place. The Wildcats have a two-game advantage over the Bearcats in the overall standings. Linfield has won the conference championship for the last six years straight.

GAME #1 - BOX SCORE

Willamette University 7
George Fox University 6

GAME #2 - BOX SCORE
Willamette University 3
George Fox University 2
Talissa Huntsman pitched all seven innings and scored the winning run in the second game.

Talissa Huntsman pitched all seven innings and scored the winning run in the second game.

Jessica Barry drove in the winning run with a single in the seventh inning.

Jessica Barry drove in the winning run with a single in the seventh inning.