Wildcats Sweep Lutes to Stay Atop NWC
PARKLAND, Wash. - Linfield powered four home runs among its 22 total hits in sweeping a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader from host Pacific Lutheran on Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats remained atop the conference standings with 8-5 and 5-4 victories over the Lutes. Linfield is now 23-5 overall and 15-1 in the conference, while PLU falls to 15-9 overall and 9-5 in the NWC.
Linfield rallied from a 5-3 deficit after five innings of the first game, using a pair of homers to score three times in the sixth inning and then adding two more runs in the seventh. In the nightcap, the Wildcats raced out to a 5-1 lead after three innings and then held on to sweep the Lutes in all four games this season.
PLU took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the opener when Amber Roberts reached on a bunt single, stole second and eventually scored on a Stacey Hagensen's grounder. With two outs, Kaaren Hatlen belted her second homer of the season, driving the ball well over the fence in right-centerfield.
Linfield took the lead with three runs in the third, including a two-run homer by Jaydee Baxter following Sami Keim's leadoff single. The third run scored via a pair of PLU errors.
The Lutes scored three times in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits and a Linfield error. After Hatlen hit a single, Aubree Pocklington hit a two-out double to drive in pinch runner Beth Haahr. Ramona Lorton reached on an infield single, and when she stole second, a Linfield error allowed Pocklington to scored. Lorton then crossed the plate on Kaely Cuthill's single, though Cuthill was gunned down going for second base.
Trailing 5-3, Linfield roared back with three in the sixth. Staci Doucette led off with her 12th homer of the season, a monster blast to straightaway centerfield. After Emily Keagbine hit a single, Alex Hartman hit her third homer of the season over the left-centerfield fence.
The final two runs scored in the seventh on Doucette's suicide squeeze bunt and a PLU error.
Lauren Harvey pitched five innings to pick up the win and improve her season record to 11-2. She allowed five runs, three earned, on seven hits before Claire Velaski replaced her in the top of the sixth. Velaski earned her second save of the season, allowing two hits and striking out the side in the sixth.
Ramona Lorton took the loss after giving up nine hits and allowing eight runs, six earned, in six innings. Ally VanSchoorl pitched a hitless seventh inning for the Lutes.
In the second game, Linfield scored all five of its runs against PLU starter Jackie Martinez, whom they knocked from the pitcher's circle after two innings. Rochelle Friend and Keagbine sandwiched doubles around a Doucette single for a run in the first, and Lepp hit a three-run homer following singles by Baxter and Keim in the second. After Keagbine and Karleigh Prestianni led off the third with singles, Martinez came out of the game in favor of Hagensen. Keagbine eventually scored on Keim's infield single.
Hagensen shut the Wildcats down the rest of the way, allowing no runs and five hits in five innings.
Meanwhile, the Lutes started chipping away at Velaski and the 'Cats, scoring a run in the third on Montessa Califano's leadoff double and Hagensen's two-out single.
The Lutes scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and had a chance to go ahead, but couldn't score with the bases loaded and no outs.
The inning started with Lauren Watson's double, and she advanced to third on Hagensen's second single of the game. After Hatlen walked, Pocklington hit a two-run single, and Kaely Cuthill followed with a base hit. Glenelle Nitta hit a single to drive in a run and reload the bases with no outs, but two straight pop ups and a ground out ended the rally.
Velaski, who went the distance, retired the Lutes in order in the seventh to wrap up her ninth win of the season against two losses. Velaski allowed four runs, all earned, on eight hits while walking two and fanning six. Martinez took the loss and is now 2-2 for the season.
For Linfield, Doucette, Keagbine, Hartmann and Kayla Hubrich all had three hits in the doubleheader and Lepp drove in four runs. Cuthill had four hits, two in each game, to lead Pacific Lutheran.
Both teams return to Northwest Conference action on Sunday, Linfield playing at Puget Sound and PLU hosting Pacific.
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