Bearcats Split with 6th-Ranked Linfield, Clinch NWC Tournament Berth

Wildcats Win 16-2 in First Game; Bearcats Respond with a 10-2 Victory

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University lost to Linfield College, 16-2, in the first game, but the Bearcats answered with a 10-2 win over the Wildcats in the second game, as the archrivals split a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader on Sunday, April 13. Both games were played at the WU Softball Field, with each game ending on the run rule.

The Bearcats ended the day at 17-19 overall, 13-13 in the Northwest Conference. Linfield, ranked #6 in NCAA Division III, went to 31-7 on the season, 25-3 in the NWC.

Willamette's win over Linfield, coupled with a loss by George Fox University and a loss by Pacific Lutheran University, allowed the Bearcats to clinch the #4 seed in the NWC Tournament on Friday, April 18 and Saturday, April 19. GFU and PLU are each 13-15 in the NWC.

The Bearcats will play a doubleheader of makeup games at Lewis & Clark College on Monday, April 14 at 3 p.m. (PDT). If Willamette wins one or both games, the Bearcats will earn outright possession of fourth place.

If WU loses both games, the Bearcats will be tied with George Fox and Pacific Lutheran for fourth. WU has already clinched the tie-breaker with a 5-3 record in head-to-head games against the Bruins and the Lutes. PLU went 4-4 and GFU was 3-5 in head-to-head match-ups.

Linfield scored three times in the first inning and five times in the second to surge out to an 8-1 lead in the opener. In the first inning, Katie Brosig and Lisa Yamamoto each hit an RBI double. In the second stanza, Brosig added a 2-RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch.

The Wildcats tacked on eight runs in the third inning. Yamamoto connected on a 3-run homer, while McKenna Spieth provided a 2-run homer.

Both of Willamette's runs in the first game were scored by Heather Winslow (Jr., 1B, Oregon City, OR/Oregon City HS). She doubled in the bottom of the second and later scored when Ashley Pender (So., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valley HS) reached base on a fielding error by pitcher Karina Paavola.

Winslow reached first and second in the third inning after hitting a fly ball that was dropped in right field. Jenna King (Jr., OF, Camarillo, CA/Adolfo Camarillo HS) sent Winslow across the plate with a single up the middle.

Paavola pitched just two innings. Montana McNealy three the next three innings and was credited with the run-rule victory after Willamette batted in the fifth inning.

Brosig was 2 for 2 with three runs and three RBIs. Erin Kinney finished 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs, while Grace Middlestadt went 2 for 3 and scored three times.

Linfield took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of game two. The run was scored on a solo homer to right center by Erin Carlson. Willamette tied things up with a run in the third, as Kayla Rieger (Jr., OF, Anacortes, WA/Anacortes HS) singled and then scored from first base on a double by Winslow.

Willamette surged into the lead with five unearned runs in the fourth. Amanda Absher (Jr., C, Elk Grove, CA/Franklin HS) and Erin Norris (Jr., 3B/C, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) were hit by pitches to start the rally. Myranda Ramirez (Fr., OF, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS) pinch-ran for Absher.

Alex Shields (Fr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS) hit a soft, low line-drive that was dropped by the second baseman, allowing WU to fill the bases. Ramirez scored on a sacrifice fly by Kayla Rieger (Jr., OF, Anacortes, WA/Anacortes HS). Three runs scored on a two-out double by Winslow through the left side. King drove in the final run with an RBI single.

Linfield cut the lead to 6-2 with a run in the top of the sixth, but the Bearcats tacked on four runs in the bottom of the inning to win on the run rule.

Winslow drove in Rieger with a bases-loaded single to right. An out at the plate on a fielder's choice, plus a strikeout, left the bases loaded with two outs. Absher re-entered the game and blasted a 3-run triple into the right field corner to bring home King, Winslow and Alexia Pratt (Fr., OF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) with the final runs.

WU pitcher Jade Smith (Fr., P, Chico, CA/Chico HS) elevated her record to 12-5. She pitched all six innings and allowed five hits and two runs. She struck out three Wildcats and gave up two walks. Linfield starter Shelby VandeBergh fell to 10-3 with the loss after allowing six runs (4 earned) in four innings.

On offense, Winslow led all players in game two by going 4 for 4 with two runs, two doubles and five RBIs. Absher was 2 for 2 with three RBIs, while King went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

BOX SCORES

Linfield College 16
Willamette University 2
Run Rule, 5 innings
Statistics

Willamette University 10
Linfield College 2
Run Rule, 6 innings
Statistics

Jade Smith threw a complete-game 5-hitter in Willamette's 10-2 win over Linfield.

Jade Smith threw a complete-game 5-hitter in Willamette's 10-2 win over Linfield.