Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball team opened its 2017 Northwest Conference schedule with two dominant wins on Saturday at the expense of visiting Pacific University. The Lutes used strong performances all over the field to send a strong message to the NWC, downing the Boxers 6-0 and 9-1 for the doubleheader sweep. PLU allowed just four hits over the course of the day, including Elli Rassbach tossing a no-hitter in the nightcap.
The Lute defense shut down Pacific's hitters all day. The Boxers (2-10, 0-2 NWC) were shut out in the opening game, garnering just four hits as Marissa Miller struck out seven for the complete game win. Meanwhile, the Lutes (4-1, 2-0 NWC) took advantage of the opportunities they were given. Especially in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Anna Overland hit a grand slam after already driving in the Lutes' first run, to provide the bulk of the team's scoring for the first contest. Kathryn Hatlen added a homer in the next inning to cement the 6-0 victory.
The Lute defense continued to limit the Boxers into the second game. Despite the team giving up one run on a fielders' choice in the second inning, Elli Rassbach was able to throw a no-hitter in the six-inning mercy rule win. It was PLu's first no-hitter since the national championship campaign in 2012.
The Lutes offense also kept adding to their momentum with 14 hits, punctuated by homers from Overland and Hatlen again in the second and third innings. Hatlen then finished off the Lutes strong performance with a double in the sixth to score two more runs for the Lutes. This led to a mercy-rule, 9-1 victory for the Lutes, who couldn't have made Head Coach Brandi Gordon Bennett happier in her first home game as the team's head coach.
"It's always fun to watch us come out and play this well, especially at home," Gordon said. "It was also good for us to see what we're capable of."
Now, the Lutes have a new challenge before them. They have to prove that they can pull off these dominant performances on a back-to-back basis.
"I told the women that, when you're playing four games, you have to realize that the other team is coming in trying to turn their weekend around," Gordon said. "We have to do more than just show up, and I know that we're capable of that."
The Lutes can count on players like Kathryn Hatlen, who drove in four of the team's runs on Saturday and Overland who racked up eight RBIs over the course of the twinbill. Hatlen and her teammates are all like-minded. Just like coach Gordon, they know that they can't settle for less intensity on Sunday.
"It was good to find out that we have that performance in us, and that it's only going up from here," Hatlen said. "It's a new series tomorrow, and we can't bring anything from yesterday. It's a new team and a new day."
The Lutes will hit the field Sunday at 11 a.m. for their second set of doubleheaders against the Boxers.