The softball team swept Lewis & Clark College 12-4 and 18-4 in a makeup doubleheader April 7.
Freshman pitcher Shelby VandeBergh earned her first win of the season during the ’Cats first win of the day. She was supported by 4-for-4 hitting from junior catcher Emilee Lepp, who hit one home run and batted in five RBIs.
Four players hit 2-for-3 duringthe second game, but Lepp, junior designated hitter Staci Doucette and senior outfielder Kayla Hubrich recorded 1.000 hitting percentages for the game.
Doucette and Hubrich went 3-for-3, and Lepp was 2-for-2. Doucette drove in an astounding seven RBIs.
The ’Cats are at the top of the Northwest Conference standings at 18-1 and 29-2 overall.
The weather abated long enough for the team to take down Pacific Lutheran University on April 2 and the University of Puget Sound on April 3.
The team’s only conference loss came against PLU on March 12, when the second game doubleheader was canceled because of darkness.
Junior outfielder Jaydee Baxter said the team worked hard during practice this week to prepare for the games.
“We were more mentally prepared and definitely had a little fire in our bellies from the [earlier loss],” she said.
Senior pitcher Claire Velaski also cited the previous loss as a factor in the team’s improvement.
“Generally in the past when we have lost to a team, it motivates us to work harder and makes us want to beat them even more,” she said.
The ’Cats finished the second game of their March 12 doubleheader with PLU on April 2. The game resumed in the fifth inning with the ’Cats up 6-3. The final score was 9-4 in favor of the ’Cats, which gave junior pitcher Lauren Harvey her eighth win of the season.
The ’Cats then took both games of the regularly scheduled doubleheader against PLU, 7-6 and 6-3.
In the first, Doucette finished off a four-run frame with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.
PLU scored one run in the top of the fourth and followed it up by adding five more runs in the fifth, giving it a 6-4 lead.
Freshman pinch hitter Haylie Watson tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning hitting a two-run double. The game ended when Lepp scored from third base off of a bunt from senior second baseman Alex Hartmann.
Hartmann said the weather conditions that the team has dealt with this year have had some positive effects.
“Having to tarp our field adds about an hour to each practice, and having put in so much time at practice has made us more mentally tough,” she said. “So if we get behind in games, we know that we can come back because we have that mental toughness.”
In the second game, the ’Cats did all their scoring during the first two innings, with three runs in each frame. Hubrich led the team offensively went 3-for-3 and Doucette went 2-for-3 with another home run.
PLU scored once in the fifth and twice in the seventh inning but the ’Cats pitching and defense held on for a third win.
Velaski and freshman pitcher Karina Paavola also picked up wins in the first and second games, respectively, of the doubleheader.
April 3 saw the ’Cats sweep UPS in three games with scores of 6-1, 1-0 and 8-0. Two of the games were part of the regularly scheduled doubleheader, followed by a makeup for an earlier postponement.
Both Velaski and Baxter said some aspects of the team’s play weren’t in top form but that the team pulled together to get the wins.
“Our defense and pitching were pretty amazing and picked up for our offensive slump,” Baxter said.
Hartmann added that the team still made some decisive hits in spite of the slump.
“We didn’t necessarily hit our best, but we had a lot of timely hits and people stepped up when we needed runs,” she said.
Velaski won her 12th game of the season in the team’s first outing of the day. She pitched a complete game and allowed just four hits while striking out 10 of the UPS batters in the seven innings.
Doucette again led the ’Cats offensively, going 3-for-3, batting in three RBIs and hitting her 12th home run of the season.
Freshman outfielder Katy Brosig put up the only run scored by either team in the second game when she hit her second home run of the season in the third inning.
Harvey pitched the complete shutout and improved her record to 9-0.
Pitching dominated the last game of the day again. This time it was Paavola’s turn to record a complete game shutout. She matched Velaski’s 10 strikeouts and allowed only three hits.
The ’Cats’ offense came back to life in this game. Eight runs paired with Paavola’s performance brought the game to an early conclusion after five innings.
Hubrich, Lepp and sophomore third baseman Karleigh Prestianni all went 2-for-3 in the game.
The ’Cats now hold sole possession of first place in the NWC.
The team will travel to Salem for doubleheaders against Willamette University on April 9 and 10.
Rae Smith/Staff reporter
Rae Smith can be reached at email@example.com.