No. 5 Lutes Wrap Up Regular Season This Weekend
THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University softball team wraps up its regular season this weekend with home-and-home double headers against the University of Puget Sound. Tuesday afternoon, the Lutes swept both games of a double header against the Willamette University Bearcats to improve their record to 30-10 on the year. With a 20-4 mark in Northwest Conference action, PLU sits two games behind No. 1-ranked Linfield College in the conference standings. Heading into the final weekend of NWC play, the Lutes will need help from the Willamette Bearcats if they hope to secure the regular-season NWC title. Willamette and Linfield are set to play four games this weekend. PLU will also have to take care of business on its end if they hope to host the NWC postseason tournament. Saturday, the Lutes travel to the other side of Tacoma for a double header on the campus of UPS beginning at noon. The next day, PLU closes out the regular season against those very same UPS Loggers in a double header. First pitch Sunday is scheduled for noon.
CONTINUING TO CLIMB: After picking up four wins on the weekend, PLU moved up one spot in this week's National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll. The Lutes now hold the No. 5 spot in the poll. Linfield College collected all eight first-place votes and continues to hold the No. 1 ranking.
30-WIN PLATEAU: By picking up both games of a double header Tuesday afternoon in Parkland, PLU secured its second consecutive 30-win season. With a 30-10 overall record in 2012, the Lutes reached the 30-win plateau for only the second time in the past nine years.
NOTABLE VICTORIES: Fourth-year head coach Erin Van Nostrand picked up her 100th victory while at the helm for the Lutes last weekend in PLU's 10-0 victory over Lewis & Clark. Now with 102 wins, she is only the third coach in program history to reach the 100-win mark. On that same day, in game one of the double header, Van Nostrand collected up her 200th career win in the Lutes 8-0 shutout of L&C. Coming to PLU before the 2009 season, Van Nostrand coached at Pine Manor College- collecting 102 wins her over four seasons there.
ATHLETE'S OF THE WEEK: Stacey Hagensen and Amanda Hall swept the NWC Student Athlete of the Week recognition's this week for their play last weekend against Pacific University and Lewis & Clark College. Hagensen, the 2010 NWC Pitcher of the Year, earned Pitcher of the Week honors for her outstanding effort in the circle. Facing Pacific, the senior went all six innings, scattering six hits and not allowing a run. The next day, Hagensen picked up her first collegiate no-hitter in the Lutes victory over Lewis & Clark. With the two wins, Hagensen improved her record to 15-5 on the season. Amanda Hall collected Player of the Week honors for her explosion at the plate this past weekend. In four games, Hall hit .727, scored four runs, and drove in six. The junior hit her second home run of the season, a solo shot, in the team's opening game of the weekend against Pacific.
SCOUTING THE LOGGERS: Holding a 3-20 mark in NWC action this season, the University of Puget Sound Loggers sit in seventh-place in the conference standings. Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Loggers face Willamette Wednesday afternoon in a makeup game before turning their attention to the weekend series with the Lutes. Chrissy Atterson leads the Logger offense in her final campaign with the program. The senior is batting .370 on the season and leads the team in hit (30) home runs (3) and RBI (15). UPS pitchers have struggled all season long in 2012. Logger pitchers have combined to post a 6.68 ERA- good for second-worst in the NWC.
SERIES HISTORY: The Lutes and Loggers have met 125 times in the series history dating back to 1981. Currently on a six-game winning streak, PLU holds a 94-30-1 advantage between the two Tacoma programs. The series' one tie came back in the 1984 season when the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
SENIOR DAY: Four seniors will be playing their final regular season games in a Lute uniform this weekend. On Sunday, before the first game of the double header, Stacey Hagensen, Amanda Goings, Ami Gran, and Katie Bologna will be recognized for their contributions to the PLU softball program.
PLU 8, Willamette 0: After struggling to get the offense going against the veteran Alex Watilo, the Lutes found more success against Willamette frosh Hayley Glantz. Montessa Califano was 3-for-3 with two doubles, Haley Harshaw had a homer among her two hits, and Amanda Goings collected two singles to lead the PLU offense. The Lutes scored an unearned run without benefit of a hit in the second inning before Harshaw's two-run homer, her second of the season, made it 3-0 PLU after three innings. The hosts added another unearned run in the fifth before closing out the game in the sixth inning. PLU had five hits in the frame, including back-to-back-to-back doubles by Kylee Oshiro, Lowery and Califano to get things started. Harshaw added a run-scoring single before Hatlen ended the game with another RBI base hit. Kaaren Hatlen earned the pitching victory, allowing only two hits while walking four and striking out five in a six-inning complete game effort.
PLU 1, Willamette 0: PLU's Stacey Hagensen and Willamette's Alex Watilo squared off in a tremendous pitcher's duel in the opener. In the end Watilo, 11-4 this season, ended up taking the hard luck loss despite limiting one of the nation's best offenses to just the one run on eight hits in 10 2/3 innings of work. In fact, she didn't allow a base runner until Hagensen hit a two-out single to right field in the fourth inning. Hagensen went all 11 innings to get the win, which improved her season record to 16-5. She allowed nine hits and no walks while striking out five. The game's lone run came in the bottom of the 11th and it was Hagensen who started the rally and scored the run. She led off with an infield single and moved up to second when Kaaren Hatlen flared a single into shallow left field. Both runners advanced a base on Melissa Harrelson's sacrifice bunt, and Lindsey Matsunaga hit a deep fly ball to left field, easily scoring Hagensen with the winning run. While the game didn't feature a lot of offense, there were plenty of outstanding defensive plays - there was only one error in the game, that by Willamette, and it was inconsequential - to go along with the great pitching from Hagensen and Watilo.