The softball team left no doubt that it is seeking a national championship. Linfield pounded the Whitworth University Pirates in four games Feb. 26 and 27.
The doubleheader saw several impressive offensive performances. The ’Cats tallied eight runs in the first inning of the first game.
Junior outfielder Jaydee Baxter went 4-for-4, knocking in three RBIs.
Junior first basemen Staci Doucette and Sami Keim went 2-for-3, combining for five RBIs.
Senior pitcher Claire Velaski praised the team’s bats.
“Our hitters had a phenomenal weekend. They got a ton of hits, and that is a testament to how hard they have been working,” she said.
Velaski, last year’s NWC Pitcher of the Year, allowed the Pirates only one run off of two hits in four innings.
Freshman Karina Paavola finished off the game’s last inning, giving up one run as well.
The ’Cats trounced the Pirates with a score of 10-1 in the second game. Junior Lauren Harvey pitched all six innings and allowed six hits.
The teams competed in Pasco, Wash., on Feb. 27, for the second doubleheader. The offense continued to dominate, scoring 11 and 16 runs, respectively, in the first and second games.
Velaski allowed four runs in the first game while Harvey, Paavola and freshman pitcher Shelby VandeBergh all had a hand in shutting out the Pirates during the second game.
Coach Jackson Vaughan recognized how well the team played despite the cold conditions.
“I thought we handled the weather well — the cold, on Saturday and the 30-mph winds on Sunday in Pasco,” he said. “Usually teams don’t hit well in the cold but we hit really well and our pitchers performed well considering what the cold does to your hands.”
The ’Cats hit nine homeruns — three off Doucette’s bat — on their way to gaining 49 runs during the four games. Harvey and Velaski ended the weekend with two wins and combined for more than 19 innings pitched.
The team’s strong leads allowed the majority of the roster time in the game.
“I think we used more kids last weekend than we ever have at Linfield in one series,” Vaughan said.
Velaski recognized some of the players.
“I think the freshmen did a good job of stepping up when they were put into the games, especially [freshman] Katy Brosig, who came up with a big home run and a great suicide squeeze,” Velaski said.
The ’Cats lead the NWC with a 4-0 record but are staying focused on getting better.
“The cool thing about our team is that we can score 49 runs but we aren’t as good as we can be yet, and everyone knows that there is room for improvement,” sophomore third baseman Karleigh Prestianni said.
Weather permitting, Linfield will take on George Fox University in a noon doubleheader at home March 5, and the ’Cats face Lewis & Clark College at noon March 6 in Portland.
Rae Smith/Staff reporter
Rae Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior first baseman Staci Doucette hits against the Pirates on Feb. 26. The Wildcats won both games 12-2, 10-1.