By Jake Bilyeu, PLU Sports Information Student Writer
PARKLAND – An unconventional day of softball featured the conclusion of a suspended game, extra innings, several rain delays and another game postponement, but by the end of the day the Pacific Lutheran softball team wrapped up its first home weekend with a pair of wins against Lewis & Clark.
Sunday's action began at 11 a.m. with the teams finishing off Saturday night's suspended game with a two-run-walk-off home run in the 13th inning to win 5-3, and the Lutes followed that up with a 12-5 win before the final game of the day was postponed to a later date. The two wins improved the Lutes' conference record to 3-4 and their overall record to 11-6.
"We know how to play, and we proved that today," PLU head coach Lance Glasoe said. "We had great focus, did the small things well and played better defense."
The continuation of Saturday night's game picked up in the top of the ninth with the teams tied 3-3. Both offenses struggled in the ninth, but the Pioneers threatened to take control when they got a runner to third in the top of the 10th. The Lutes managed to escape the jam on a groundout to maintain the tie. The stalemate continued for the next few innings until the bottom of the 13th, when Kelli Crawford opened the inning with a pinch-hit single. Two batters later, Kathryn Hatlen emphatically ended the game with a deep shot over the fence in left field to give the Lutes the 5-3 win.
"The pinch hit helped us get going," Glasoe said. "She picked a good pitch to hit, and that got the team excited."
"We are good at carrying over energy," junior Emily McConnell said. "One hit brings the rest of us up and gets us involved, which leads to more hits."
The second game was defined by three powerful offensive innings for the Lutes. After giving up a run in the top of the first, the team responded with a home run from Nichole Schroeder in the bottom of the frame to put the team up 3-1. The Lutes quickly followed that up with another impressive inning in the second, as doubles from Hatlen, Amanda Hartley and Jessica Wallace brought five runs in to put the Lutes up 8-1.
The Pioneers then began to slowly mount a comeback to draw closer to the Lutes. The visitors scored two runs in the third inning, and then added a run in the fourth and in the fifth to pull within three at 8-5.
Elli Rassbach and the Lute defense silenced the Pioneers in the top of the sixth, and then the PLU offense proceeded to add four more runs to the lead thanks to hits from Hatlen and Becca Sorensen to regain a seven-run lead at 12-5. Rassbach retired the first three batters she faced in the top of the seventh to earn the close out the win.
"We had some good approaches at the plate and good swings on good pitches," Glasoe said.
Miller pitched all 13 innings of the suspended game, tossing 145 pitches between the two days while not allowing a single earned run. She started the following game Sunday and allowed two earned runs in four innings to earn her second win of the day, while Rassbach picked up her first save of the year after pitching the final three innings.
Multiple rain delays pushed the conclusion of Sunday's game to nearly 4 p.m., prompting the postponement of the initially scheduled final game. A make-up date has not yet been determined. The Lutes will take on George Fox on the road next weekend, with doubleheaders scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Newberg, Oregon.