Wildcats up winning streak to 17 games
For the Review
After last Saturday’s doubleheader was postponed because of poor weather, the Linfield softball team was ready to play for an eager crowd of Wildcat fans the following afternoon.
As the sun shone, Linfield reigned over Pacific University, winning 1-0 and 8-3. The victories drove the fourth-ranked Wildcats closer to the Northwest Conference title.
“Both games were very competitive, and we really pushed through to the end,” sophomore pitcher Samantha Van Noy said. “We were prepared, and we came out on top like we wanted to.”
The Wildcats and Boxers (27-5, 16-4 NWC) fought to break the 0-0 tie throughout the first game, yielding six scoreless innings and plenty of defensive play.
Junior pitcher Brittany Miller threw a nearly flawless first game, with only one walk and three hits.
Pacific sophomore pitcher Miranda McNealy began the first game strong, striking out seniors outfielder Stephanie Rice and first baseman Amanda Attleberger in the first inning.
However, McNealy’s arm didn’t stop the Wildcats from getting on base in the second inning, with senior Erica Hancock advancing to third off a hit to center field by freshman second baseman Alex Hartmann.
Linfield eventually made it to third base in the third and fifth innings, but the Boxers’ defense stopped them from reaching home.
The ’Cats showed their own defensive prowess with three consecutive outs in the sixth inning.
A stunning play by Hancock secured the Wildcats’ win in the bottom of the seventh inning, when she hit a line-drive double to the fence.
After a tough victory, the Wildcats’ momentum carried them through to capture the second win.
In the first inning, senior short stop Meredith Brunette and Rice each scored a run off Boxer senior pitcher Andrea Bansen.
Pacific didn’t score until the third inning when sophomore second baseman Kelly Nishitomi slid into home off a hit to center field by sophomore third baseman Brooke Fogwell.
Linfield responded with a home run by Hartmann, pushing Hancock and Attleberger home for a total of three points.
“The games went well for us,” head coach Jackson Vaughan said. “It was huge for us to get two wins out of it.”
The Wildcats will continue their battle for the NWC title against Willamette University this coming weekend in Salem, and in a rescheduled match against Pacific on May 1 at 5 p.m. in McMinnville.
“In the series with Willamette this weekend, we control our own destiny,” Vaughan said. “The enthusiasm and intensity is picking up, and if we play well, we should be in fine shape to get us ready for the playoffs.”