Lutes Softball Sends a Wake Up Call to the NWC
PARKLAND - While it is only one game in an otherwise long 28-game Northwest Conference softball season, there's little arguing that Pacific Lutheran's 10-2, six-inning win on Saturday afternoon over No. 1-ranked Linfield was a wake up call for the entire conference.
The Lutes rode the complete-game, three-hit pitching of Stacey Hagensen and six runs batted in from Kaaren Hatlen to hammer the seven-time conference champion Wildcats. Pacific Lutheran improved to 7-4 overall and 6-1 in the conference, while Linfield dropped to 8-1 overall and also in conference action.
Because the start of the first game was delayed by nearly three hours by rain, the second game was suspended because of darkness in the bottom of the fifth inning with Linfield holding a 6-3 lead. The game will be completed at a later date.
Linfield came into the game with a .489 team batting average and 20 home runs, and they had out-scored their opponents, 104-12, in eight previous contests. Hagensen, who improved her record to 5-1, was in control throughout, limiting the 'Cats to just three hits while walking two and striking out two. Only one of the runs she allowed was earned, and that came on Karleigh Prestianni's second homer of the year in the second inning.
Prestianni's home run gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth before the Lutes scored four times on three hits and an error. They loaded the bases on a bunt single by Amanda Goings, a Linfield error, and a walk. Hatlen cleared the sacks with the double to left center, and she later scored on a base hit by Lindsey Matsunaga.
Linfield got a run back in the fourth on a hit batter, a walk, a single by Prestianni and a fielding error, but it left a bigger inning on the base paths with a fly out and ground out with the bases loaded.
The Lutes ended the game in dramatic fashion with a six-run sixth inning. Matsunaga hit a double to lead off the inning, moved up a base on Lauren Watson's sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a Linfield error. Goings followed with her first home run as a Lute, driving the ball the other way over the left field fence. After Kaely Cuthill reached on another Wildcats fielding error and Hagensen walked, Hatlen ended the game with a three-run homer over the fence in center field.
PLU finished the game with nine hits, including three each by Hatlen and Matsunaga and two by Goings. Prestianni had two of Linfield's three hits.
Claire Velaski took the loss, her first of the season against four victories.
In the suspended second game, Linfield scored twice in the first, only to see the Lutes reply with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Emilee Lepp tied the game with solo homer in the top of the third, and Linfield added three more runs in the top of the fourth before the game was suspended.
Weather permitting, PLU returns to conference action at noon Sunday when it hosts the Pacific Boxers.
- PLU -