Conference games have come to a close, but the Wildcats prepared for regionals with extra games in Lewiston, Idaho, May 6-8.
Linfield won two of three games against Lewis-Clark State College, George Fox University, and Pacific Lutheran University.
The first game of the series was against Lewis-Clark State on May 6, during which Linfield lost 6-3.
Senior second baseman Eric Evenson said that Lewis-Clark State proved to be a challenge.
“Lewis-Clark State had some of the best arms we’ve faced all season so that game was a great challenge for us,” he said.
The Wildcats faced off against Pacific Lutheran for the second game of the series on May 7. Linfield won this game 10-4. Evenson and sophomore center fielder Tim Wilson scored the first runs of the game for Linfield during the first inning.
Linfield scored five runs during the second inning. Junior shortstop Kevin Allan scored first. Seniors right fielder Gunnar Cederberg and first baseman Kevin Coleman, Wilson and Evenson also scored during the second inning.
Starting out the fourth inning, Linfield’s senior third baseman Dustin Smith and Wilson scored at the start of the fourth inning. Allan scored Linfield’s last run of the game during the seventh inning.
Freshman Zach Brandon started on the mound for the Wildcats; senior K.C. Wiser replaced him after five innings. Juniors Spencer Crepeaux and Jacob Nolte also pitched during the game.
The Wildcats played against George Fox University for the final game of the series. Linfield won against the Bruins 6-4. George Fox freshmen Derek Dixon and Derek Blankenship tallied the first two fourth-inning runs. Linfield’s senior catcher Cole Bixenman hit a home run, scoring the first run of the game for the ‘Cats. Linfield pulled farther ahead when Cederberg, Evenson and Smith scored during the fifth inning. The bats were swinging strong for the Wildcats during the eighth inning. Senior first baseman Kevin Coleman made it on base, and freshman Kramer Lindell subbed in as a designated runner for him. Then Lindell and Cederberg scored the final two runs of the game for the Wildcats.
Some of the players reflected on how the season prepared them for what lies ahead.
Brandon said that a great deal of their preparedness came from the strong teams they faced during the course of the season.
“I think our schedule has prepared us well for the regional. We faced solid competition in the preseason including games against teams outside Division III,” he said. “Each series we had in conference challenged us in its own way and our ability to win every conference series should give us a lot of confidence heading into regionals.”
Bixenman also said that a strong lineup prepared the team for regionals.
“I think we play a very competitive schedule and get to see a lot of quality opponents throughout the year. Our non-conference games were almost all against tough opponents, some of which we will see again at regionals,” he said.
“I think our games in Arizona against California and Texas schools, along with our series against Chapman prepares us well for our competition at the regional,” he said.
Freshman Nate McClellan said that the bond has helped the team grow. He also said that having teammates who were able to step up in times of need helped as well.
“I think over this season we have not only played many good teams, including a couple that we may play in the regional, but we have grown a ton as a team,” he said.
“Having to deal with several big injuries has helped us because we know that any player can
step up if we need them to, which is a big help going into regionals.”
The Wildcats will have a weekend to rest and practice before leaving for Texas on May 16. Regionals are scheduled for May 18, however, it has not been determined which team the Wildcats will play first in Texas.
Kaylyn Peterson/Sports editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.