Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball team finished its final trip to Oregon on Sunday with a doubleheader split for the second consecutive day. The Lutes comeback bid in game one fell short, falling 6-5 to eighth-ranked Linfield College before powering through to a 5-3 victory in game two.
The Wildcats (22-6, 11-5 NWC) opened the first game strong, scoring a run in each of the first two innings before adding four more in the fourth. The Lutes (16-10, 12-8 NWC) fought back into the game, getting a run off an Anna Overland double in the fifth before tacking on four more in the sixth, getting a two RBI double from Amy King and RBIs from Kathryn Hatlen and Emily McConnell. PLU had the tying run on base in the seventh but the Lutes momentum stalled with a fielders choice and a groundout, giving the host Wildcats the 6-5 win.
PLU outhit Linfield 11-6 in the opener with Hatlen leading the way with three hits.
The Lute offense was far from finished, though, as the Lutes scored two runs off singles from Anna Overland and Kathryn Hatlen in the first inning of game two. The Wildcats battled back and tied the game in the bottom of the inning. PLU pushed ahead in the fourth off a King single before Linfield responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the sixth.
The Lutes took the lead for good in the seventh, pushing across two runs. Becca Sorensen drove in the winning score on a sacrifice fly while a Samantha Simundson single gave the visiting Lutes a two-run buffer. The Wildcats threatened to tie the game with a strong start to the final inning, but the Lutes gave up no runs, grabbing the win on a double play.
McConnell, Simundson, and Overland all finished with a pair of hits while Elli Rassbach collected her second win of the weekend over the Wildcats, tossing a complete game and striking out one.
"I'm proud of our team for the fight we showed and we will carry that with us into the next few weekends," head coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "We ran ourselves out of some innings so we will get to work on the base paths and keep paying attention to detail on defense to keep us in ball games and stay competitive."
As Gordon Bennett stays process-oriented, she's able to see her team go through tremendous growth since the season began. Her team delivered with another strong performance against stiff competition this weekend.
"We did a great job battling this weekend, and in each game we built on the one before it," Gordon Bennett said. "Everybody stepped up at the plate and were tough outs today. It felt good to go into a nationally ranked team's back yard and almost take three games."
The schedule doesn't get easier for the Lutes, though, they'll return home next weekend to welcome conference-leading Whitworth University. First pitch on Saturday is slated for noon.