Lute Softball Prepares For NWC Showdown
THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University softball team continued its offensive blitz of Northwest Conference opponents with two wins over Whitworth University. Ahead for the Lutes, though, is a showdown with the seven-time defending NWC champ, Linfield College, as well as the Pacific (Ore.) University Boxers. In the 10-1 and 10-2 wins against the Whitworth Pirates, the Lutes tallied 20 runs on 18 hits, with virtually every player who registered an at bat earning a hit in the two-game set. The Lutes looked prime to take all four of the games on the road versus the Pirates, yet an unplayable field in rainy conditions halted any hope of continuation of the series on Sunday. The Lutes will have to continue to bring their barrage with the bats in the coming weekend when they head south to take on the Linfield Wildcats and Pacific Boxers.
LUTES SWINGING FOR LINFIELD SWEEP: The Lutes will travel to McMinnville, Ore., this weekend to square off with NWC rivals, the Linfield Wildcats. Before their win earlier this season at the PLU diamond, the Lutes had not beaten Linfield in 10 tries, though keeping the perennial power to close games in almost every contest. In the 10-2 thumping of the Wildcats just a month ago, the Lutes demonstrated their prowess at the plate with nine hits on the day, with Lindsey Matsunaga going 3-3 and Kaaren Hatlen hitting 3-4 with six RBIs on the day. The loss was the first of the season for the Wildcats, who have won the NWC title the past seven seasons. The second game of the doubleheader was called because of darkness in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Wildcats holding a 6-3 lead. The game will be completed prior to the reguarly scheduled doubleheader. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 13-1, with a loss to Claremont Mudd-Scripps being the only blemish on an otherwise perfect 14-game record. As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .417 with 208 hits, 169 runs, and a ridiculous 39 home runs. With six of their players hitting over .400, the Wildcats are led at the plate by Stacey Douchette (.548 avg., 34 hits, 34 RBI), Emily Keagbine (.471 avg., 32 hits, 37 RBI, 10 HR), and Emily Lepp (.526 avg., 41 hits, 32 runs, 44 RBI, 16 HR). On the mound, Claire Velaski (8-1, 2.48 ERA) and Lauren Harvey (4-0, 1.38 ERA) head up the conference's leading defensive squad. The doubleheader is scheduled to start at noon on Saturday and will be a battle for first place in the NWC, with the Lutes sitting at 12-1 and the Wildcats at 10-1.
KNOCKING OUT THE BOXERS: Sunday will pose a large threat for the Lutes coming off their twinbill with the Linfield Wildcats when PLU travels to the Pacific (Ore.) University campus for a two-game set. Pacific (17-8, 8-6) are sitting in third place in the conference standings, and is hoping to knock the Lutes off their perch atop in NWC. When the teams met earlier in the 2011 season, the Lutes delivered a 1-2 punch in a two-game sweep of the Boxers, winning 13-5 and 6-3. Haley Harshaw was 3-for-3 with three RBI in the first game, and Kaely Cuthill went 3-for-3 with two RBI in the second game to lead the Lutes to victory. With the two wins, the Lutes extended their overall series lead against Pacific to 60-47. Led by Steph Vanoudenhaegen (.482 avg., 40 hits, 36 runs) and Madison Collura (.552 avg., 16 hits), the Boxers are a hard-hitting threat whenever at bat. The games will start at noon on Sunday.
HEADING SOUTH FOR THE SUN: Following their weekend in Oregon, the Lutes will fly to sunny Southern California for their annual spring break trip to take on three SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) opponents. In doubleheader games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, PLU will take on the University of La Verne, Cal Lutheran University, Chapman University, and the University of Redlands, respectively. Of that foursome, Chapman is not a SCIAC member. The Lutes made two trips to California last season, going 6-4 overall. In 2010, they took on all four of the teams they will play this season, as well as Whittier College and Claremont Mudd-Scripps. The trip will be a great test for the Lutes on the road this season against strong regional competition.
PLU 10, WHITWORTH 1; PLU 10, WHITWORTH 2: Another doubleheader, another offensive outburst as Pacific Lutheran swept two games from host Whitworth on Saturday afternoon to maintain its lead in the Northwest Conference softball standings. The Lutes downed the Pirates 10-1 in five innings and 10-2 in six innings at Diana Marks Field. Stacy Hagensen threw a five-inning two-hitter and also drove in three runs at the plate to lead the Lutes to victory in the first game. Amanda Goings sparked PLU from her leadoff position, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The Lutes led 2-1 before breaking loose with five runs in the fourth, two of those runs coming home on a a single by Kaaren Hatlen. In the fifth, Hagensen's bases-clearing double gave PLU the eight-run lead. The Lutes scored their 10 runs on only seven hits. Whitworth pitchers Emily Anderson and Jessica Mangis walked five batters and hit four others. Hagensen gave up only two hits, including Jamie Brunner's RBI single in the third inning, to improve to 9-1 this season. She walked three and struck out one. Anderson, now 5-4, took the loss in the circle for the Pirates. Julia Johnson hit her fifth home run of the season in the second inning to give Whitworth an early 2-1 lead, but that was all the Pirates would score against Hatlen, PLU's pitcher in the nightcap. The Lutes got five runs in the fifth to blow the game open. Lindsey Matsunaga went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, while Hatlen helped her own cause with two RBIs and two runs scored in two official at-bats. Hatlen's homer off the scoreboard in the third inning, her third of the season, gave PLU a 3-2 lead. In the five-run fifth, Katie Bologna had a two runs single and Matsunaga added a two-run double. Hatlen, 4-1 this season, allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in her six-inning complete-game win. She struck out five and didn't walk a batter. Jessica Dickson, 1-2, went the whole way for Whitworth, giving up eight earned runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
(Courtesy of Whitworth Athletics)
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By: Alex Schisel, Student Assistant