Bearcats Edge Out Beacons 3-2 in Rain-Shortened Game at Northwest Cup

Asaro Drives in Two Runs in Bottom of Fourth to Break 1-1 Tie

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

HAPPY VALLEY, ORE. -- Mallory Asaro (Fr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS) hit a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, and pitchers Jade Smith (Fr., P, Chico, CA/Chico HS) and Makayla Hari (Fr., P, Salem, OR/Blanchet Catholic HS) combined on a four-hitter, as Willamette University defeated Northwest Christian University, 3-2, on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Northwest Cup.

The game was ended due to heavy rain with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Willamette was the home team, so the score will stand as final.

Willamette evened its record at 1-1 on the season. Northwest Christian, from Eugene, Ore., dropped to 0-3 overall.

Smith, 1-0 on the season, allowed just one hit and one run during the first four innings. She gave up a double and a single to start the fifth inning, but Hari entered the game and earned a save while limiting the Beacons to one run during the stanza.

Pitcher Bre Johnson of Northwest Christian matched Smith and Hari's combined effort by holding the Bearcats to four hits. All of WU's hits were achieved in the fourth inning, when Willamette score all three of it runs. The bottom of the fourth also included two of NCU's three errors.

The game was scoreless through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, Ally Mittleider walked for NCU. She moved to second when Addy Hoskins grounded out to the pitcher and reached third on a groundout toward first base by Jill Suratt. Jazzmyne Villaruel followed with a single to drive in Mittleider, giving the Beacons a 1-0 advantage.

Willamette responded with offensive success in the bottom of the fourth. Heather Winslow (Jr., OF, Oregon City, OR/Oregon City HS) singled to start the inning. Ashley Pender (So., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valley HS) reached base and Winslow went to second on a dropped fly ball in right field.

Erin Norris (Jr., C/INF, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) brought in the tying run on a single, which also advanced Pender to third. Johnson forced a groundout to the circle and then registered a strikeout, while keeping Pender and Winslow at the corners.

Asaro batted next and sent a single into left field to bring in both runners, as Willamette claimed a 3-1 lead. Asaro went to second base on an error by the left fielder, but was  stranded when Johnson earned her second strikeout of the inning.

Randi Kostner doubled and Gabby Stover singled to start the top of the fifth for Northwest Christian. Stover's single allowed Kostner to cross the place, as the Beacons pulled within 3-2.

Hari went in to pitch for Willamette. Stover moved to second on a stole base and went to third on a single by Parker Bonife to center field. The Beacons attempted to steal home, but Stover was tagged by Norris at the the plate. Bonife was caught in a run-down between second and third for the second out.

After Hari gave up a walk, two consecutive NCU batters each hit into an unsuccessful fielder's choice to load the bases. Willamette got out of the inning when Villaruel sent a grounder back to the circle and Hari threw to Winslow at first base for the third out.

WU began the bottom of the fifth with a walk by Jenna King (Jr., OF, Camarillo, CA/Adolfo Camarillo HS). King stole second and went to third on a throwing error. Kayla Rieger (Jr., OF, Anacortes, WA/Anacortes HS) also walked.

King was thrown out at the plate on a double steal, while Rieger reached second base. Rieger attempted to advance to third as well, but was tagged out by the shortstop. The game ended with Winslow scheduled to bat.

The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference play on Saturday, Feb. 22 when they host Whitworth University in a doubleheader at the WU Softball Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PST).

Mallory Asaro (a two-run single to left field to give Willamette a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.

Mallory Asaro (a two-run single to left field to give Willamette a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.