Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University softball team wrapped up its 2018 season winning two of three games on Sunday as they wrapped up Saturday's second contest before finishing the weekend with another doubleheader. The Lutes finished with an overall record of 15-23, with an 10-18 record in conference play. PLU took the resumed game 16-1 and game one 9-4 before dropping the season finale 6-5.
"We played well, and it was fun to watch us almost come back in that second game," head coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "We had some great at bats, Marissa pitched a great final game and the players were having fun and getting fired up, which was cool to see."
In continuing their Saturday contest, the Lutes boosted their 12-run lead with an additional run in the third with a ground out RBI. The Lutes then added a run in the fourth and fifth innings off of Anna Lennox and Rebecca Sorensen's bats, pushing the lead to 16-1. The game was then called after the Loggers failed to cut into the lead in the fifth.
The Lutes continued their dominance into the second game, taking advantage of a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Kathryn Hatlen to take an early 2-0 lead. The Loggers responded with a run in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead.
The Lutes quickly fought back in front with a three-run fourth which was kicked off by Kathryn Hatlen single. The inning was capped off on a fielder's-choice RBI from Anna Overland and a single from Elise Freund.
A solo-homer from the Loggers cut the Lute lead in half, but a 3-run shot from Samantha Simundson pushed the Lutes ahead 8-4. Finally, Kathryn Hatlen sent another run home on an RBI single, as the Lutes secured the 9-4 victory.
An early RBI single from Kennedy Robillard gave the Lutes their first lead in game 3, but the Loggers responded with 5 runs over the next three innings to take a commanding lead. Robillard, Simundson, and Anna Lennox each provided an RBI in the sixth inning to pull the game close, but another UPS home-run pushed the lead back up to 2. In the bottom of the seventh, Delaney Salter delivered a leadoff homer to celebrate her birthday in style and bring the Lutes within a run again. After threatening to tie or take the lead by loading the bases with two outs, an infield pop-up ended the Lutes' rally one run short at 6-5.
"The thing that stood out to me the most about this year was that, regardless of the situation, this team gave everything that they had in every inning and for every pitch," Gordon Bennett said. "These players always put their Luteball family first, and I hope that our returners are hungry to come back and deal out some damage next year."
For the Lutes' three seniors, Anna Lennox, Jessica Alcomendas, and Marissa Miller, Sunday's contests marked the final ones in their storied careers. In the midst of all of the celebration, four-year starting pitcher Marissa Miller welcomed her family onto the field where she had created many fond memories through the years.
"It feels great to be able to play here one last time," Miller said. "I've had an incredible four years, and I'm really going to miss my teammates, as well as this whole experience."
As her storybook Lute career ends its final chapter, Miller is already looking ahead to nurture the next generation of softball stars, some of whom may one day become Lutes themselves.
"I love helping out younger kids, and I'll actually be getting back to teaching pitching lessons now that the season has ended," Miller said. "I just love watching young women succeed in playing softball while helping them get there."
For now, the Lutes 13 returners will take some time to rest before returning to the field to prepare for the 2019 season.