By Jake Bilyeu, PLU Sports Information Student Writer
FOREST GROVE – The Pacific Lutheran softball team finished the first weekend of Northwest Conference play Sunday evening with a pair of close losses to Pacific as the Boxers claimed 6-5 and 6-4 victories.
"Pacific played at a quick pace this weekend," PLU head coach Lance Glasoe said. "We need to be able to play accordingly."
Kathryn Hatlen had two hits and drove in three runs in the opener, while Nichole Schroeder matched that batting line in the second game. Marissa Miller allowed only three earned runs in a complete-game loss in the first game, while Elli Rassbach allowed only one earned run while pitching all six innings of the second game.
Pacific struck first in the opener, putting one on the board in the bottom of the first. The Lutes countered in the third when Hatlen singled to bring in two runs, but the Boxers quickly tied things up with a run in the bottom of the inning. This set off a trend of one-upmanship that continued throughout the day, as neither team was able to hold a lead for long.
Thalen Masada doubled to score two runs in the top of the sixth, but again the lead was erased quickly as the Boxers scored twice on a home run in the bottom of the inning. The Lutes took their final lead of the game in the seventh on another single from Hatlen. As the Lutes tried to close things out in the seventh, the Boxers scored on two clutch singles with one out to walk off with the 6-5 win.
The second game began with both pitchers shutting down the opposing offense before Pacific broke free in the bottom of the second, sending three runs home on a double and a single to grab the first lead. The Lutes didn't stay behind for long though, scoring four in the top of the third on hits by Schroeder and Amanda Hartley to take their first lead of the game.
Pacific's final response came in the bottom of the fifth inning, as an early triple scored one and a dropped fly ball scored two later in the inning to give the Boxers a 6-4 lead. The PLU defense combined for 11 errors between the two games, as eight of the Boxers' 12 runs were unearned.
"We have some time this work to some things out," Glasoe said. "Our defense is something we need to be able to count on."
The Lutes will be back in action next weekend, as they return home to host Lewis & Clark on Saturday and Sunday for two doubleheaders at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day in the 2016 home opener.