PLU Softball Falls to Top-Ranked Linfield
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield, ranked No. 1 in Division III softball, got the best of a matchup between the top two softball clubs in the Northwest Conference, defeating Pacific Lutheran three times on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Linfield softball field.
The 'Cats (24-2, 13-1 NWC) opened the day with a 9-4 victory in the conclusion of a game against the Lutes (13-7, 12-4 NWC) that was started on March 12 but suspended by darkness.
Linfield then won the first game of the regularly scheduled doubleheader in a thrilling finish by a score of 7-6, and finally ended the busy afternoon with a 6-3 win to complete the sweep.
With the wins, the 'Cats also stole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference from the Lutes.
CONTINUATION OF SUSPENDED GAME
Linfield held a 6-3 lead at the top of the fifth inning after the game in Tacoma was suspended due to darkness back on March 12.
The Lutes cut the margin to two in the bottom of the fifth when Kaaren Hatlen doubled to score a runner from second, but the Wildcats added three more runs for the 9-4 win. Both teams finished the game with nine hits, including two each by Hatlen and Kaely Cuthill for the Lutes.
After two scoreless innings to open the game, the 'Cats got on the board first when a pop fly dropped between the second baseman and center fielder with the bases loaded, allowing a run score. Staci Doucette then hit a three-run homer to put the hosts on top, 4-0, after three innings.
Down by four runs, PLU scored once in the fourth inning on Stacey Hagensen's fifth homer of the season, and then exploded for five runs in the fifth, all of them unearned and coming with two outs. With Haley Harshaw on base after a single, Amanda Goings reached base on a two-out error. Kaely Cuthill followed with a double to center field that scored two runners, and Hagensen followed by threading a single through the right side of the infield to score one and knot the score at 4-4. Katie Lowery added a base hit that drove in two more runs to make the score 6-4 in favor of the Lutes.
Facing a two-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth, Linfield turned to pinch hitter Haylie Watson, who hit a double off the left field fence to score two runners and tie the game at 6-6. Both runs were unearned following a two-out PLU error.
Linfield scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh following a leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt and two intentional walks. Alex Hartman's bunt dropped right in front of home plate, but Emilee Lepp was able to slide past the catcher to score the winning run.
Karina Paavola earned the win, her fifth of the year, after striking out five batters and surrendering just two hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief work. Hagensen took the loss, dropping her record to 9-2.
Hagensen was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Hatlen was 3-for-4 with a run scored to lead PLU's 10-hit attack.
The 'Cats opened the second half of the doubleheader with back-to-back three-run innings, including a three-run homer by Doucette in the second inning.
Hatlen kept Linfield's bats quiet for the rest of the game, and meanwhile Pacific Lutheran was fighting its way back into the game against Claire Velaski, who despite going the distance allowed nine hits.
The Lutes got one run back in the fifth when Goings hit a leadoff triple and then scored on an error, and they added their final two runs in the seventh on just one hit, a single by Goings.
Hagensen had three hits and both Goings and Lindsey Matsunaga added two each for the Lutes.
PLU returns to conference action at noon tomorrow with a doubleheader against the Pacific Boxers in Forest Grove, Ore.
(Courtesy of Linfield Sports Information Office.)