The Wildcats’ softball season started Feb. 23 and 24, splitting a four game series against the Whitworth University Pirates.
The second double header of the series took place Feb. 24.
The first game started out well for the Wildcats. After a scoreless top of the first, the ’Cats went to work.
After two outs, senior all-American third baseman, Karleigh Prestianni walked. Sophomore designated player Lisa Yamamoto followed with a walk, which brought up junior shortstop Katy Brosig. Brosig doubled driving in Prestianni, putting Catball ahead of the Pirates 1-0.
The ’Cats would not look back, as they scored three more runs in the third. After Whitworth scored three runs at top of the fourth, the Wildcats responded with 11 runs in the bottom half of the inning, sealing the game, which was ended after five innings of play.
The second game of the day was a nail biter. After falling behind 7-1 through five and a half innings, the ’Cats made their comeback. With four singles, a hit batter and a double from Brosig, the ’Cats were able to cut the lead down to a one-run ball game 7-6.
After a scoreless top of the seventh, Linfield had one last opportunity to tie the Pirates. With two outs, sophomore outfielder Chelan Guischer doubled to centerfield. With Guischer in scoring position, sophomore outfielder Grace Middelstadt grounded out to third, ending the game in a 6-7 loss.
The previous day produced two extra inning thrillers. In the first game, Whitworth jumped out to an early 4-1 lead before the Wildcats responded with two in the bottom of the third.
Whitworth tacked on one run in the top of the fifth, but Catball came right back with two in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 5-5.
In the top of the seventh, the ’Cats brought in junior pitcher Shelby VandeBerg to close. With two outs and two on, an error by junior first baseman Haylie Watson allowed one run to score, giving the Pirates a lead 6-5.
Catball would not fold, though. In the bottom half of the inning, with two outs, the Whitworth first baseman made an error on a ball hit by senior outfielder Megan Wallo. The error allowed sophomore catcher McKenna Spieth to score, and tie the game 6-6.
The eighth and top of the ninth innings went by without any scoring, but in the bottom of the ninth, Yamamoto ended the game in one swing, blasting a ball over the centerfield fence, ending the game 7-6.
The final game Feb. 23 was a 15-inning battle that featured nine pitchers and 32 hits.
With the game knotted up at six a piece in the top of the 15th, Whitworth center fielder Caylan Haehl singled. A passed ball by Spieth and a sacrifice bunt by Whitworth catcher Sacha Clow left Haehl on third with one out. Left fielder Riley Fritz flew out to left field, scoring Haehl.
The Wildcats were unable to get a runner on base in the bottom of the 15th, ending the game 7-6 in favor of Whitworth.
Prestianni hit 6-13 on the weekend with one home run, two doubles and three runs batted in. VandeBerg led the way for the pitching staff with 14 and a third innings pitched, allowing nine earned runs on 18 hits and 12 strikeouts.
“I think this weekend showed that we are going to have to fight for every win this season,” VandeBerg said. “As we get ready for next weekend, we just need to learn from our mistakes and keep making adjustments.”
The ’Cats play two games against the Pacific University Boxers on March 2, before heading up to Portland to face off against the Lewis & Clark University Pioneers on March 3.
Chris Haddeland/ Senior reporter
Chris Haddeland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org