Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball team grabbed a much needed win in the final game of its weekend series with Northwest Conference leading Whitworth University, earning a doubleheader split on Sunday afternoon at PLU Field. The Lutes dropped a 3-0 decision in the opener before turning the tables and coming away with a 7-1 victory in the nightcap to remain in third place in the NWC standings.
The Lutes' offense continued to struggle in game one on Sunday. Despite outhitting the Pirates 5-4, the Lutes (17-13, 13-11 NWC) were unable to take advantage of their scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, the Pirates (31-6, 21-3 NWC) scored their first run on an error in the third, and added two more in the fifth on a double and a fielder's choice. The Lutes got a runner on third in the bottom of the fifth, but were unable to score, and the Pirates were able to claim the 3-0 victory.
Anna Overland tallied two of PLU's hits in game one, finishing two-for-three at the dish while Whitworth's Madi Perez netted her second complete game shutout of the weekend.
Much like Saturday, the Lute offense scored more effectively in the second game, but their defense would ultimately push them to victory. Kathryn Hatlen, Becca Sorensen, and Jessica Wallace each contributed two RBIs in the game, with Wallace and Sorenson powering a strong fifth inning that saw the Lutes score four runs. The inning was capped off by Elli Rassbach, who helped her own cause by driving in a score. Whitworth got on the board in the seventh but was unable to do any serious damage as the Lutes shut down the rally attempt to secure the 7-1 win to close the series.
"It feels better to end on a win today. We talked yesterday as a team and we wanted to take more control of the games today," head coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "I'm proud of the team for coming out with the energy they brought, and we stayed the course in the second game."
Ending the Pirates 14-game win streak provides the Lutes with plenty of momentum. Pitcher Elli Rassbach led the Lutes to their dominant victory with seven innings of work, yielding just five hits and one run.
"It felt great to get a win against a team we haven't beaten in a while, and it shows that we're capable of beating anyone," Rassbach said. "The difference between that and other games was our consistent energy in every inning, it allowed us to string hits and good defensive plays together."
The win keeps the Lutes at third place in the NWC. If the Lutes can grab a few more wins next weekend against the University of Puget Sound, they'll be headed to the conference tournament in Gordon Bennett's first season as head coach.
"It's always been a goal of ours to get to the postseason," Gordon Bennett said. "At the same time, each person realizes that we have to keep up the momentum and take care of our end next weekend."
That message has gotten to the players as well.
"I think we have to respect the game, because each game doesn't know about previous results," Rassbach said. "We have to go into every game from here on out with that same mentality, and we need to have each other's backs."
The Lutes close out their home slate on Friday, hosting the crosstown Loggers at noon.