Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball team made it a memorable senior day for the squad's nine seniors, clinching a spot in the Northwest Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep of crosstown rival University of Puget Sound. The Lutes blasted the Loggers 7-1 in the opener before rallying to the 6-3 win in game two.
The Lutes (19-13, 15-11 NWC) came out firing in the first game, scoring three runs over the first two innings, receiving RBI hits from Kathryn Hatlen and Amy King with a fielding error bringing in the third run.
PLU doubled its lead in the fourth, as Emily McConnell kicked off another offensive onslaught with a double. Samantha Simundson switched spots with McConnell with an RBI double while Anna Overland brought in Simundson for the 6-0 edge. Hatlen finished off the Lute scoring with a double in the sixth to send Overland home. The Loggers (12-25, 5-21 NWC) got a solo home run in the fifth but were unable to muster any more offensive power as the Lutes cruised to the 7-1 win.
Marissa Miller allowed just four hits and struck out five for the complete game win while Hatton and Overland paced the team at the plate, both finishing the opener with three hits.
The Loggers responded in the second game with a three-run homer in the first inning to take the early lead. Despite being put in a tight spot early, the Lutes tightened up their defense, refusing to allow another run for the rest of the afternoon.
The Lutes slowly battled back into the game. Entering the sixth inning trailing 3-2, the Lutes then came through with a four-run inning capped off with a two-run homer from Anna Overland. Amy King belted in pinch runner Bailey Plumb to tie the game before a McConnell groundout plated Becca Sorensen for the go-ahead score. Overland punctuated the inning with the two-run blast, giving the Lutes the 6-3 lead. The Lute defense then retired the first three batters faced in the seventh inning to secure the 6-3 win.
Seniors King and McConnell led the offense, both collecting a pair of hits while Elli Rassbach secured the complete game win, striking out four.
"It was exciting for us to come out scoring early and often, it set a good tone for the weekend," head coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "We took care of business on our end, and it's great to have another good day tomorrow to get momentum."
The Lutes thanked their senior class after the games on Friday, honoring nine seniors who collected 80 wins over the last four seasons, including 58 in NWC play. It was an emotional day for the whole team, but the players are thrilled to be entering the postseason for the first time in their careers.
"I'm honestly grateful for everyone on the team, we were all ready to play today," senior Nichole Schroeder said. "I'm excited to go play hard next week, and we played really well today so I know we're ready."
The Lutes wrap up their regular season on Saturday at noon with a twinbill at UPS, and then they'll head to the NWC Tournament next weekend to see how far they can go into the postseason.