Records, streaks and playoff berths in spring
Hey ’Cats. There’s been a whirlwind of activity in the last few weeks as spring athletics wind down and begin getting geared up for the playoffs. An impressively high number of Linfield spring teams have captured post-season berths or remain close in the hunt, so I’d like to dole out a few shout-outs and take a look at who’s playing through and who’s staying home.
The men’s golf team wrapped up a fourth Northwest Conference title in the past five years April 22. Senior Alex Fitch putted his way to first place in the tourney, his staggering seventh individual tournament title this season. A pair of promising freshmen in Connor Mangnuson and Taylor Klopp also netted fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively. The team will take its talents to Orlando, Fla., to play for the NCAA title later in May. On the other side of things, women’s golf played hard at the NWC tourney but couldn’t climb any higher than fifth on the second day.
On the same day that the Linfield softball team dropped the NWC tourney crown to Pacific Lutheran, the women’s tennis team took its 13-0 conference record into the NWC Championship match against Whitman and got swatted 5-1. Besides ending an impressive 13-game conference winning streak, it also put the team in jeopardy of staying home for the playoffs despite its solid overall record of 13-5. The NCAA’s most recent release of regional rankings has Linfield slotted at eight, with senior ace Abby Olbrich individually ranked eighth and her doubles team sophomore Caroline Brigham ranked sixth. Keep in mind that the top 12 teams will be selected for regional berths. The regional selections will be announced May 6 for tennis and May 7 for softball.
Meanwhile, senior pole vaulter Catherine Street has captured another record, this time breaking the Division-III national record for outdoor pole vault with an impressive clear of 13 feet, 9.75 inches. The clear secured her fourth consecutive NWC crown and earned her a chance to claim the NCAA outdoor crown to go with her previously earned indoor championship earlier in the semester. While Street was soaring, sophomore Anna LaBeaume tossed her way to a repeat title in the shot put and a first-time championship in the hammer throw. Overall, the ’Cats finished third in the NWC meet and have a few opportunities to qualify individuals and the team for the NCAA championships in May.
Finally, the Linfield baseball team appears to have hit free-fall mode. The team is 2-8 during its past 10 games and currently sits on a five-game losing streak heading for what looks to be its final four games of the season. At fourth place in the NWC and with a 21-15 overall record, things aren’t looking so great for a regional berth. Last week, Linfield dropped out of the NCAA’s Top 30 rankings as well as www.d3baseball.com’s Top 25.
With only a few precious games or meets left on the docket, now is the time to get out for some Linfield sports. Our men and women will be on the road come playoff time, so give your love now while you still can.
Good luck in the playoffs to our post-season qualifiers, and congrats to all for a successful spring season.
Chris Forrer/Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.