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Hot-Hitting Lutes Host Whitworth This Weekend

Kaaren Hatlen

PLU LOOKS TO CONTINUE STRONG START: The Pacific Lutheran University softball team hosts Whitworth University as the Lutes and Pirates are set for four games in Parkland. Pacific Lutheran swept four games this past weekend to open its Northwest Conference schedule and improve its overall record to 6-4 on the season. At 4-0 in NWC play, the Lutes sit in a first-place tie with defending national champion Linfield College atop the conference standings. Saturday, PLU and Whitworth square off in a doubleheader set to start at noon. The next day, the two teams are back at it again with two games to finish the weekend. The first game of Sunday's twinbill also starts at noon.

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE: If you haven't seen the 2012 Pacific Lutheran softball team play this season but want to, this weekend's four-game series will be the last chance to do so until the end of March. The Lutes won't play again in Parkland until they host Willamette on Saturday, March 31.

HOT-HITTING LUTES: Despite PLU's 18-day layoff between a season-opening trip to Hawaii and the start of NWC play, Lute bats did not miss a beat this weekend in the team's wins over Lewis & Clark College and Pacific University. In four games, PLU score 40 runs on 42 total hits. Through the first weekend of NWC play, the Lutes lead the NWC in on-base percentage at .539. In addition, the Lutes rank second in the NWC in batting average (.416), runs batted in (37), homeruns (5), and walks (20).

THEY CAN PITCH TOO: Through 10 games this season, PLU pitchers have been among the best in the NWC. As a team, the Lutes lead the NWC in ERA surrendering only 2.44 earned runs per seven innings. Senior Stacey Hagensen, who has started four games this season, boasts the conference's best ERA at 1.52. In 27 2/3 innings of work in 2012, Hagensen has only surrenders six earned runs and her 23 strikeouts ranks second in the NWC.

HAGENSEN HONORED: Stacey Hagensen won her two starts and also picked up a save in her one relief appearance last weekend and as a result has been honored by the Northwest Conference as a Student-Athlete of the Week. Hagensen, a senior, earned softball pitcher of the week recognition after giving up just six hits and one earned run in 12 innings for a 0.58 earned run average. Hagensen struck out 14 opposing batters and walked two as the Lutes swept a pair of doubleheaders from Lewis & Clark and Pacific.

A LOOK AT THE PIRATES: At 2-8 this season, the Whitworth University Pirates have lost seven straight games including being swept in a four-game set by Linfield to open NWC play. Senior Sami Parr leads the Pirate offense in 2012. The infielder, who earned NWC honorable mention recognition in 2011, is batting a team-high .300 this season and has already stole five bases. As a team, the Bucs have struggled offensively this season and are batting a conference worst .204. Also, Whitworth's team ERA sits at 9.28 through 10 games which ranks last in the NWC. The Lutes and Bucs have met 58 times in the series history dating back to the 1998 season. PLU holds the advantage in the series with a 43-15 record. Currently, the Lutes are on a two-game win streak and have won 10 of the last 11 match ups between the two programs.   

PLU 10, PACIFIC 5: There was plenty of offense in the second game as the two teams combined for 15 runs and 22 hits. PLU put the game away with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth. Hagensen drew a bases-loaded walk to score the first run, and Kaaren Hatlen hit a run-scoring grounder for the second tally. Amanda Hall finished her three-RBI game with a two-run single through the right side. Hatlen improved her record to 3-0 despite giving up five earned runs on seven hits in five innings. Hagensen's save was her first of the season.

PLU 9, PACIFIC 1: Hagensen threw a complete game four-hitter in the opener, improving her record to 3-3 by allowing one earned run while walking two and striking out seven. The Lutes broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the third inning. Glenelle Nitta hit a single and Amanda Goings drew a walk to start the inning, and Haley Harshaw plated both with a double. Hagensen followed with a home run over the centerfield fence, her third of the season.

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.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. Leah Butters picked up the win in relief, striking out two and allowing no base runners in the final 1 2/3 innings.

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. 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.

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