Wildcats Defeat Bearcats in NWC Action, 8-5 and 9-3

Huntsman and Galli Hit Homers for Willamette

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Linfield College held off a Willamette University rally in the first game and built a 5-1 lead through five innings in the second game, as the Wildcats defeated the Bearcats, 8-5 and 9-3, in a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Sunday, April 10 at the WU Softball Field. Claire Velaski (8-1) and Lauren Harvey (10-0) picked up the pitching wins for Linfield.

The Wildcats, ranked #1 in the NCAA Division III Top 25 released by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), extended their win-loss record to 33-2 overall, 22-1 in the NWC. Willamette ended the day with a 16-16 overall record, including 13-11 in the NWC.

Willamette put a scare in the top-ranked Wildcats by rallying from a 6-1 deficit in the first game to pull within 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Linfield secured the win by scoring twice in the seventh inning.

In the second game, the Bearcats trailed just 3-1 after four innings, but the Wildcats tallied two runs in the fifth and four runs in the seventh for a 9-1 lead. WU registered two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn't sustain the comeback long enough to tie the score.

The Wildcats tallied the first run in the opener in the top of the second inning on a two-out home run by Emily Keagbine.

WU tied the score in the bottom of the same inning. Nichole Robertson (Jr., RF, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS/Cosumnes River Coll.) singled down the right field line and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Susie Krewer (Jr., 2B, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS).

Robertson reached third on a single by Courtney Galli (So., 2B/SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS) and scored when Kelli Snyder (So., C, Longview, WA/Kelso HS) bunted into an unsuccessful fielder's choice by the Wildcats. Velaski pitched her way out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

Linfield surged in front with five runs in the third stanza. The Wildcats achieved four hits during the inning, including a two-run double by Jaydee Baxter, a two-run homer by Emilee Lepp and a solo homer by Staci Doucette.

The Bearcats responded with a comeback that almost equalized the score.

Robertson walked and scored in the fourth inning to start the rally. In the fifth, Willamette tacked on three runs to reduce Linfield's lead to 6-5. All three runs scored with two outs, as Sierra Lessel (Jr., CF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) pounded an RBI double and Talissa Huntsman (Jr., UT/P, Richland, WA/Richland HS) smacked a two-run homer over the center field fence.

Karina Paavola, who pitched the fifth inning for Linfield, recovered in the final two stanzas to face the minimum of six batters. She received support on the scoreboard when the Wildcats tallied two runs in the top of the seventh, as Keagbine and Doucette crossed the plate on a single by Alex Hartmann.

Velaski threw the first four innings in the opener to register the win. She allowed two runs and struck out four batters. Bri Compton (Sr., RHP, Kalispell, MT/Flathead HS/Wenatchee Valley CC) took the loss for WU.

Doucette was 3 for 4 with a pair of runs and an RBI for Linfield. Keagbine added a 2-for-4 performance, while providing two runs and an RBI. Robertson of Willamette was 1 for 4 and scored twice. Lessel, Huntsman and Galli each went 1 for 3 for the Bearcats.

In the second game Linfield hit four home runs to eventually gain an edge on the Bearcats. A two-run homer by Jordan Mixsell in the top of the fourth extended a slim 1-0 lead into a 3-0 advantage. After WU plated a run on a homer to center field by Galli in the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats answered with a two-run homer by Lepp in the top of the fifth.

The score remained 5-1 until the top of the seventh, when Lepp added a solo homer to left field and Keagbine smacked a three-run homer to center.

Willamette recorded the final two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Galli walked and stole second to start the inning. She scored when Hope Kloczko (So., C, Cameron Park, CA/Oak Ridge HS) singled up the middle. Kiley Herrick (So., 3B, Colusa, CA/Colusa HS) doubled to put runners at second and third. Kloczko reached home when Linfield turned a 6-3-5 double play. Another ground out to shortstop ended the game.

Harvey pitched all seven innings for the win. She allowed just three hits, but had two walks and gave up three earned runs. She struck out two Bearcats.

Lepp was 2 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs. Keagbine finished 3 for 4, scored twice and drove in three runs. Mixsell also went 3 for 4, with one run and two RBIs.

For WU, Galli was 1 for 2 with two runs scored, a walk and an RBI. Koczko went 1 for 3 with a run and an RBI.

Willamette honored Compton, the team's only senior, prior to the second game. She has played in 52 games with 47 starts in her two seasons since transferring from Wenatchee Valley Community College.

The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, April 16, when they open a four-game series at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. The start time for Saturday's doubleheader is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORES

Linfield College 8
Willamette University 5
Statistics

Linfield College 9
Willamette University 3
Statistics

Talissa Huntsman smacked a two-run homer Bearcats in the first game.

Talissa Huntsman smacked a two-run homer Bearcats in the first game.