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Lutes Warm to NWC Season With Sweep of Pioneers

Leah Butters

PARKLAND, Wash. – Pacific Lutheran opened Northwest Conference softball play on a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon with a pair of run-rule victories over the Lewis & Clark Pioneers.

The game scores were 10-0 and 11-3 with both games ending in the fifth inning.

First Game: PLU 10, Lewis & Clark 0

Stacey Hagensen allowed only one hit in four innings and Kaaren Hatlen got the Lutes off to a good start with a two-run homer in the first inning.

Hagensen, the 2011 Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year, struck out five and allowed only one base runner, that coming when Sarah Breninger hit a single to right field with one out in the third inning. Leah Butters finished up, striking out two of the three batters she faced.

Pacific Lutheran scored all 10 of its runs in the first three innings. Three runs scored on just two hits in the second inning, and five more came across in the third. Amanda Goings had a two-run single and Katie Lowery added a RBI base hit as the Lutes made the most of three hits and two Pioneers errors during their five-run burst.

Goings and Hagensen both had two of PLU's eight hits. Hatlen had three RBI and both Goings and Harshaw drove in a pair.

Second Game: PLU 11, Lewis & Clark 3

Lewis & Clark scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning to pull narrow its deficit to 4-3, but PLU responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame then scored three times, including the walk-off run, in the bottom of the fifth.

For the second straight game the Lutes took a 2-0 lead after one inning. Harshaw hit a double and advanced to third on Hagensen's single before Hagensen stole second base. After Hatlen received an intentional base on balls, Amanda Hall hit a two-run double to left-centerfield.

The Pioneers scored a run in the top of the second when Caitlin Relyea led off with a single and eventually came around on Caitlin McCormick's base hit.

PLU struck back with single runs in the second and third before the Pioneers plated two on four hits in the top of the fourth. Jet'aime Mullins and Moriah Lane had back-to-back singles with one out, Mullins came in on McCormick's base hit, and Lane scored on Breninger's single.

The big blow in PLU's four-run fourth was a three-run homer by Lindsey Matsunaga, but it was preceded by a clutch two-out run-scoring base hit by Katie Lowery.

Pacific Lutheran finished the game with three runs in the fifth inning. Amanda Goings led off with a single and scored on Harshaw's double, and Harshaw spiked the plate on Hagensen's hit. Glenelle Nitta delivered the final run on a ground out.

PLU finished the game with 11 hits, including two each by Harshaw, Hagensen and Califano. Leah Butters picked up the win in relief, striking out two and allowing no base runners in the final 1 2/3 innings.

McCormick had two hits and two RBI to lead the Pios' seven-hit offense.

- PLU -