Willamette to Play Linfield in First Round of NWC Softball Tournament

Bearcats and Wildcats will Meet at 11 a.m. on Friday in McMinnville

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

SALEM, ORE -- The Willamette University softball team, which closed out regular season Northwest Conference action with a 12-6 record in the final 18 games, is one of four teams set to compete at the 2011 NWC Softball Tournament on April 22-23 at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.

Willamette finished 16-12 in the NWC to take fourth place, just one game behind Whitworth University, 17-11, in third. Linfield won the NWC championship with a 27-1 conference record. Pacific Lutheran University placed second with a 23-5 NWC mark. Linfield is seeded #1, PLU is seeded #2, with Whitworth seeded #3 and Willamette seeded #4.

Linfield, 38-2 overall, is ranked #1 in the nation in the NCAA Division III Top 25 released by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) on April 20. Pacific Lutheran is 29-11 on the season. Whitworth and Willamette own matching 19-17 overall records.

The double-elimination tournament will begin with four games on Friday, as each team will play twice at the Linfield Softball Diamond. Willamette will take on Linfield in the first game of the tournament at 11 a.m. (PDT). Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth will battle at 1:30 p.m. The losers from the first round games will play each other at 4 p.m., while the winners will meet at 6:30 p.m.

Action will continue on Saturday with a maximum of three games. The first game on Saturday, slated for 11 a.m. (PDT), will match the winner of the elimination game played Friday afternoon with the loser of the late game on Friday. At 1:30 p.m., the tournament championship game will feature the winner of the first game on Saturday against the winner of Friday's late game. If a second championship game is needed, it will begin at 4 p.m.

The winner of the NWC Tournament will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Willamette Bearcats

Leading the Bearcats are junior pitcher Alex Watilo (RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) and junior shortstop Mica Romero (Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian School).

Watilo is 15-4 as the team's #1 pitcher this season.  She has tossed 121 2/3 innings, with 22 appearances and 13 complete games. She has registered six shutouts while recording 65 strikeouts. She has held opponents to a .234 batting average.

Romero is the team's top offensive threat with a .386 batting average. She leads the teams with 37 runs, 24 RBIs, 11 doubles and five home runs. She is 22 for 22 on stolen bases. Romero owns a solid .663 slugging percentage and a .466 on-base percentage.

Other top hitters for the Bearcats include Courtney Galli (So., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS), Talissa Huntsman (Jr., UT/RHP, Richland, WA/Richland HS) and Sierra Lessel (Jr., CF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS).

Galli has achieved a .357 batting average and has 30 hits and 15 runs scored with just 84 at bats. Huntsman has batted .347 this year, with nine doubles and three homers. Lessel has contributed a .316 average, plus six sacrifice bunts, while going 14 for 18 on stolen bases.

Two other Willamette players are hitting .293 for the season. Nichole Robertson (Jr., RF, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS/Cosumnes River College) ranks second on the team with 25 runs scored and is 13 for 14 attempting to steal bases. Susie Krewer (Jr., LF/2B, Sacramento, CA/Mira Loma HS) leads the team with eight sacrifice bunts and is second with 23 RBIs.

Willamette is hitting .287 as a team, while holding opponents to a .272 batting average. The Bearcats have achieved a .950 fielding percentage on defense.

Linfield Wildcats

Linfield's top hitters are Staci Doucette (Jr, 1B/DP) and Emilee Lepp (Jr., C). Doucette is hitting .538 with 28 runs, 60 RBIs and 16 home runs. Lepp is batting .500 with 58 runs, 75 RBIs and an NCAA Division III record 25 homers.

Three pitchers have carried the bulk of the load for Linfield. Freshman Karina Paavola (RHP) leads the team with a 1.14 ERA in 49 innings. She has earned a 7-1 record, while recording 63 strikeouts.

Lauren Harvey (Jr., RHP) is undefeated at 12-0. She has registered 49 strikeouts in 76 innings. Claire Velaski (Sr., LHP) is 17-1 on the season and has achieved 99 strikeouts in 100 innings.

Pacific Lutheran Lutes

Pacific Lutheran is led by pitcher Stacey Hagensen (Jr., RHP), who has registered a 19-4 record and a 1.75 ERA. She has earned 85 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings pitched. She has limited opponents to a .206 batting average.

On offense, Kaaren Hatlen tops the Lutes with a .415 batting average. She has scored 22 runs, produced 42 RBIs and smacked seven home runs. She also is 9-4 as a pitcher with 46 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings. Lindsey Matsunaga (Fr., UT) has added a .412 averaged at the plate, plus 34 runs, 43 RBIs and a team-high 10 homers. Amanda Goings (Jr., OF) has hit .390, achieved 24 RBIs and gone 14 for 14 on stolen bases.

Whitworth Pirates

At the top of Whitworth's batting chart is Jamie Brunner (So., 1B) with a .451 batting average and 21 runs scored. Brunner is 14 of 16 on stolen bases.

Caty Lieseke (Sr., C) has added a .375 average with 25 RBIs. Julia Johnson (Fr., 1B) leads the Pirates with 29 RBIs, while Sami Parr (Jr., 2B) ranks first with 32 runs scored. Heather Hesselgesser (So., SS) has a .328 average to go with 23 runs, 23 RBIs and 17 stolen bases on 20 attempts.

Emily Anderson (Fr., RHP) is 12-6 in the circle. She has a 4.60 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings pitched.

Tickets

Tickets for the NWC Softball Tournament are $5 for All-Day Session passes for adults, senior citizens and students. Admission for children under the age of 12 is free.

Parking

Only on-street parking is available. Parking near the field is very limited.

TOURNAMENT WEBSITE

NWC Softball Tournament
Hosted by Linfield College
McMinnville, Ore.
April 22-23, 2011

Mica Romero leads the Bearcats with a .386 batting average, 37 runs scored and 24 RBIs.

Mica Romero leads the Bearcats with a .386 batting average, 37 runs scored and 24 RBIs.