Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball squad returned to the field after an extended absence on Thursday, finishing off its season series with Pacific University on a high note, coming back from a six-run deficit to get the 9-8 victory to win the series. The 9-8 thriller came after playing the final two innings of a 5-1 setback.
The Lutes (14-8, 10-6 Northwest Conference) and Boxers (6-19, 4-11 NWC) finished up their game from February 26, which had been stopped late with the Boxers leading 5-1. After such a long wait, the Lutes comeback bid was short-lived, as the Lutes only managed to get one batter on base in the final two innings.
Anna Overland led the Lutes in game one, accounting for two of the squad's three hits in the game.
However, despite a slow start in the second game, the Lutes wouldn't miss their second chance for a comeback. After the Boxers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the third, the Lutes immediately cut into the lead with a two-run double in the same inning from Overland.
After adding two more runs in the fifth, the Lutes then began an onslaught of offense in the sixth, as Samantha Simundson led the Lutes with a double in what amounted to a five-run inning to seize a 9-6 lead. The Boxers closed the gap to one run in the top of the seventh but pitcher Elli Rassbach induced a groundout to preserve the win, giving the Lutes three out of four for the series.
Simundson concluded the nightcap two-for-four at the plate with two RBIs, while scoring an additional two runs. Overland cranked out three RBIs while Bailey Plumb touched home plate three times in the comeback win.
"It's great to sneak out a comeback win, however, I'd like to see us turn on the juices earlier and get on fire right away," head coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "We had that fire earlier in the season, but it's missing now, and we need to bring that back."
After Thursday's games, the Lutes sit at third place in Northwest Conference standings. If they can continue to build momentum, they could overtake second place and nationally-ranked Linfield College when they travel to McMinnville, Oregon this weekend. However, as Gordon Bennett says, the team may need to return to their early-season form if they want to have a big weekend.
"As a coach, it's my job to explain to them that we need to focus on bringing the energy early," Gordon Bennett said. "As players, they have to make that decision, though, and we hope to see them turn it on this weekend."
After a long break, the Lutes are glad to have shook off the rust, and look to stay in game mode as they head to Linfield this weekend.
"It's great to come into another weekend after a win, and I'm proud of them for fighting back," Gordon Bennett said. "It's cool to see that they didn't roll over, and it's nice to get back into games after a long rest."
The Lutes face Linfield this Saturday and Sunday in what will be a crucial four-game series.