Going into the Northwest Conference Tournament in the No. 1 spot, the Wildcats nearly had a perfect season.
With a record of 34-3, Linfield hosted the NWC Tournament on April 21 and 22 at Del Smith Stadium.
The Wildcats faced off with the NWC No. 2 team three times during the tournament, ultimately falling from the NWC champion spot with two losses to Pacific Lutheran University.
During Linfield and Pacific Lutheran’s first game, the Lutes took an early lead in the second inning when they scored their first run.
The game took a turn for the worse for the Wildcats when sophomore Ashley Garcia hyper-extended her elbow while making a play in the Lutes’ third inning at bat. Junior Bri Brewer stepped in for Garcia, playing second the rest of the tournament
Pacific Lutheran held the lead into the sixth inning, when the Lutes scored another two runs. In retaliation, the Wildcats fought to catch up, scoring one run in their sixth inning at bat but fell short in the final inning.
In the second game against Pacific Lutheran, Linfield came back from behind in the final inning.
The seventh inning earned the Wildcats three runs, allowing them to pull ahead of Pacific Lutheran’s two runs it earned throughout the game.
Senior Jordan Mixsell scored the first run off a single to left center hit by freshman Lisa Yamamoto. Senior Staci Doucette hit a single, which brought the final two runs scored by fellow senior Emilee Lepp and freshman Grace Middelstadt.
In the Wildcats’ final game against the Lutes, both teams fought hard to gain the lead, but Pacific
Lutheran grabbed it in the first inning scoring two runs.
With strong defense, the Wildcats pushed to stop the Lutes in their tracks, but in the end fell 3-0.
Though the team faced some struggles, the Wildcats still pushed forward.
“Of course with this sport being a game based on failure, we will all struggle individually at some point,” senior Jaydee Baxter said. “We are breaking in some players at new positions and have some young talent. We have always worked hard and strive for excellence everyday. Our struggles seem to motivate us to get better really.”
While the tournament ended in a loss, Linfield earned two wins earlier.
In the first game of the the tournament, the Wildcats faced off with George Fox University, winning 3-0.
The Wildcats also went up against Willamette University. Though the team struggled at first, it pulled ahead against the Bearcats in the end.
During the final inning, the Wildcats scored three runs, resulting in a 4-2 win.
While the team lost its reign over the NWC, it improved from last season.
“Last year we all played great at the same time, and when a team has almost every player on their game it is hard to beat them,” Garcia said. “This year we have all had our struggles, and we have had to learn how to take it for what it is and keep looking forward.”
Though the team lost the Conference title, Linfield is still likely to receive a bid for the National Collegiate Athletic Association regional competition.
“We should still get an at large bid for the regional tournament because of our record and standing,” sophomore Kim Chase said. “So we are still ready to get back in the game and keep working hard.”
Kaylyn Peterson/Sports editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.