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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 email@example.com.
The softball team opened regional tournament play at Central College in Pella, Iowa with a 10-0, six-inning win against Anderson University on May 12. Senior pitcher Claire Velaski held the ’Cats’ opponent to one hit and struck out six batters.
Three ’Cats hit home runs including junior outfielder Jaydee Baxter, juniors first baseman Staci Doucette and catcher Emilee Lepp who brought her season total to 28 home runs.
This game brings the end nearer for five senior softball players. With just the regional and national tournaments left, these players will say goodbye not just to Linfield, but to Wildcat softball as well.
Head coach Jackson Vaughan said this group of girls was essential to maintaining a strong program after 2007’s national championship-winning team.
“They really helped in the transition from our 2007 championship team and were highly involved in keeping the program at a high level,” he said.
He added that this group has more than just skills on the field.
“They’ve always done things the right way on the field and in the classroom and the bonus has been that they are great players,” Vaughan said.
Senior shortstop Emily Keagbine hit 16 home runs this season with a .455 batting average. She finished third place in the Northwest Conference in both categories behind her teammates Lepp and Doucette. However, Vaughan commented on more than just her offensive power.
“She brings an element of fun but is also very competitive,” he said. “She’s very talented defensively and is someone who loves the game.”
Keagbine’s performance throughout the season earned her a spot on the all-Northwest Conference first team.
Velaski has led the ’Cats’ pitching staff for two years. Her 19-1 record, including eight complete games with two shut-outs, 106 strikeouts and 2.00 ERA led her to receive a first team all-Northwest Conference selection this year.
Vaughan said she is reliable, hard working and a great teammate.
Velaski talked about what softball has meant to her.
“Having a group of people that are there with you through success, heartbreak and pain is something you don’t get in a lot of places,” she said. “I am going to remember everyone’s hard work, effort and the time they committed this year.”
Fellow pitcher, senior Elise Karscig also commented on the team’s dedication and success.
“Everyone has been really motivated throughout the whole year,” she said. “I will remember how well we did this year only losing two games, and that we never really backed down throughout the season.”
Karscig made four appearances on the mound this year, one of which concluded with a memorable complete game shutout on Senior Day against Pacific University.
“She is super team-oriented and a great supporter. She is always there to take care of everybody,” Vaughan said about Karscig.
Senior outfielder Kayla Hubrich joined Keagbine and Velaski on this year’s first all-NWC team. She led the team in stolen bases with 14 and led the NWC in triples with four. She was also second in the NWC in runs scored and hits behind Lepp in both categories.
“[Hubrich] is super hard working and gives her absolute best at everything she does, and she has improved a lot,” Vaughan said.
Hard work is something all the players are familiar with. Senior second baseman Alex Hartmann said that is one thing she will take away from her experiences in softball.
“The time we commit teaches you how to work hard and how to have good time management,” she said.
Hartmann earned her fourth all-NWC honor this year, nabbing a second team selection. Vaughan said she has been a key contributor during each of her four years as a Wildcat. This year she had 41 hits and 31 RBI with a .328 batting average.
The seniors weren’t the only Wildcats recognized in the all-NWC voting. Vaughan, who received the Coach of the Year award, and Lepp, who was voted Player of the Year, topped the list of recipients.
Doucette, junior outfielder Jaydee Baxter and sophomore third baseman Karleigh Prestianni were selected for first team honors. Junior pitcher Lauren Harvey joined Hartmann on the second team and freshman pitcher Karina Paavola rounded out the team’s selections with an honorable mention.
In addition, six players were selected for the 2011 Division III All-West Region first team. This included Prestianni, Lepp, Doucette, Hubrich, Keagbine and Velaski.
Besides hard work, Velaski, Karscig and Hartmann all agreed on the mentality that the team is taking into the regional tournament.
“It’s out there for any team to win, but we just have to be aggressive and put everything we have done over the past four months out on the field and take it,” Hartmann said.
The ’Cats’ next opponent is Washington University in St. Louis, the same team the Wildcats defeated in the national championship in 2007. The game will take place at 2 p.m. on May 13 at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Rae Smith/Staff reporter
Rae Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The baseball team is heading to regionals May 18 with the majority of the Northwest Conference all-league team. Leading the team are head baseball coach Scott Brosius, coach of the year, and senior catcher Cole Bixenman, player of the year.
Not only did Linfield earn two top awards, but the team won 14 awards in the NWC selection. Bixenman also won first team all-league, along with junior shortstop Kevin Allan, freshmen Clayton Truex and Tim Wilson; and pitchers junior Ryan Larson and seniors Robert Vaughn and Evan Hilberg.
“I think it was just a combination of being in the right place at the right time and being a senior. I have been around the league for a few years now and just having that experience under my belt I think really helped me out this year,” Bixenman said. “I could have never accomplished any of it if it weren’t for my teammates surrounding me. Baseball is a team game and I have great teammates.”
Bixenman has played baseball all four of his years at Linfield, starting his freshman year on the junior varsity team.
“I feel I have grown a lot as a person first, in my time at Linfield. Going to college to play sports is exciting because you have to start back at the bottom of the totem pole and work your way back up again. It’s been fun to go through that growth to being a senior now,” Bixenman said. “I definitely think being a senior now I have been much more comfortable and relaxed. Just being completely comfortable and at ease with your surroundings and teammates makes a big difference.”
Not only was Bixenman a baseball player for the Wildcats, but he played quarterback as well. He also balances school as a finance major with an outstanding 3.78 GPA. According to Linfield’s athletic website, Bixenman was named to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District DIII Baseball Team for academic honors. He was named part of the team, along with junior infielder Kevin Allan.
Bixenman is one of two players who has started all 40 games this season. He also is tied for Linfield’s home run career mark with 32 runs. He has proven himself as a leader on the team.
Senior Gunnar Cederberg agreed that Bixenman is a leader.
“He leads by example and gets the job done during our games,” Cederberg said. “I think he has grown in the understanding of how the other team is going to get him out, and he has worked hard at turning that knowledge into productive at bats, which has led to his success.”
After graduation, Bixenman has an internship at R.V. Kuhns, an investment consulting firm in Portland, Ore., working as an analyst in the Investment Manager Research division.
As for playing baseball, Bixenman’s Linfield career is quickly approaching an end as the team heads to Texas next week, and possibly to Wisconsin the following week.
“I would love to continue playing baseball. Who wouldn’t want to play a game and get paid for it,” Bixenman said. “We will see where it might take me. For now we have a few big goals to accomplish as a team first though.”
Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at email@example.com.
Hey ’Cats. With less than two weeks remaining before finals, it’s time to slam on the gas and never look back until summer vacation is ours at last. Make sure to take breaks while studying, folks, for as the saying goes: all work and no play makes Jack want to stab his study buddies with a sharp pencil…something like that. Anyway, when you do decide to take a chill pill to de-stress for a bit there’s still going to be plenty of sports action around Linfield and beyond to keep you busy.
Early Thursday morning, our top-ranked softball team had its first matchup at the NCAA Division III softball playoffs at Central College in Iowa. Their opponent was Anderson College, the surprise champion of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference who had to claw its way through 12 innings of hard play in the HCAC title game just to make it to the playoffs. But the Ravens of Anderson were no match for our ’Cats, and led by the ace pitching of senior stud Claire Velaski, Linfield romped to a 10-0 shutout. Velaski only allowed a single hit in six innings while three Linfield sluggers (juniors Emilee Lepp, Stacy Doucette and Jaydee Baxter) nailed homers, extending the team’s own NCAA single-season home run record to 86.
Some days before the game, star Anderson pitcher Monica Crowe made a bit of an error that surely only fired up the ’Cats future when she went on record to the Herald Bulletin.
“I think it will feel good after we beat them. This is like when we got to Florida and we don’t know the other teams but they don’t know us. I think this is to our advantage,” Crowe said.
Oops. While Crowe’s impressive season (a 1.84 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 112 innings) is certainly something that deserves accolades, perhaps somebody should have told her how Catball plays when they have extra motivation.
In other news, the women’s tennis team went off to the NCAA D-III playoff regional in Claremont, Calif., to face the University of Texas-Tyler in first-round action.
They triumphed in dramatic fashion in a 5-4 victory, including impressive wins by Abby Olbrich (1-6, 6-4, 6-4) and Sarah Click (7-5, 6-4). This is the second time Linfield has advanced to the second round in the last four years. Linfield faces the University of Pomona-Pitzer at 10 a.m. on May 13.
Look for more playoff updates as they come online at www.linfield.edu/sports and on The Linfield Review’s sports blog. Go ’Cats!
Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eight members of the Linfield Review staff went to Albany, Ore., May 6 for the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association
Collegiate Day. The Review won first place in Best
Website, Best Photography, Best Sports Photo, Best Cartooning; second place in General Excellence, Best Graphic, Best Headline Writing, Best Cartooning, Best Section; and honorable mention in Best Series and in Best Sports Photo.