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March 10, 2012

Lutes Softball Gets Two More Conference Victories

SALEM, Ore. - Pacific Lutheran scored the winning run in the sixth inning of the first game and bashed 15 hits in the second contest Saturday afternoon to sweep host Willamette, 4-3 and 7-3, in Northwest Conference softball action.

The Lutes improved their conference record to 9-1 and are now 11-5 overall this season, while Willamette falls to 6-4 in the NWC and 7-8 overall.

First Game - PLU 4, Willamette 3

PLU's winning run in the first game was unearned as Willamette committed a costly two-out error. With two outs, Glenelle Nitta walked and Montessa Califano followed with a single to center. Amanda Goings hit the ball to center and it was ruled an error, allowing Nitta to cross the plate with the winning run.

Stacey Hagensen made the run stand up, stranding a Willamette runner on third base in the sixth inning and on second base in the seventh inning. The senior right-hander went the distance, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out two and walking one.

Junior Kaaren Hatlen was the hitting hero for the Lutes, going 2-for-2 with a home run and two runs batted in. She also scored a run.

Hatlen drove in a run with a two-out double in the first inning and then led off PLU's two-run fourth. The Lutes added a run that inning when Amanda Hall hit a single and pinch runner Melissa Harrelson scored on Nitta's two-out infield hit. That run tied the game at 3-3 because Willamette had scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the third on four hits, including two bunt singles, and a couple of stolen bases.

PLU finished with six hits against Willamette ace Alex Watilo.

Second Game - PLU 7, Willamette 3

Offense was not a problem for the Lutes in this game as Goings and Hall both collected three hits to lead PLU's 15-hit attack.

The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second without the benefit of a hit, parlaying a hit batter, two steals and a ground out for the run.

Pacific Lutheran finally broke through in the middle innings, scoring three times in both the fourth and fifth innings, and then adding its final tally in the seventh.

In the fourth, Lindsey Matsunaga drove in a run with a hit, and Califano added a two-run base hit. In the fifth, Stacey Hagensen hit a double to drive in Ami Gran, who also reached on a two-bagger, and later in the inning Hall and Nitta drove in runs with singles. The final run came when Goings hit a triple and then scored on a fielder's choice.

Joining Goings and Hall in the multiple-hit parade were Hagensen, Matsunaga, Nitta and Califano with two apiece.

Leah Butters, working five innings in relief, picked up the win in the pitching circle. She allowed two earned runs on three hits while fanning four and walking two.

Next up for the Lutes is a big showdown with defending conference and national champion Linfield. The teams play a pair of games starting at noon Sunday in McMinnville, Ore.

- PLU -