Tag Archives: Softball

Softball fumbles in first preseason games

Sophomore catcher McKenna Spieth receives a pitch during the game against Whitworth University on Feb. 24. Spieth had four hits and caught one runner stealing during the course of the weekend. The Wildcats split a four-game series against Whitworth. The ’Cats next games are at home against Pacific University at noon March 2.

Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer
Sophomore catcher McKenna Spieth receives a pitch during the game against Whitworth University on Feb. 24. Spieth had four hits and caught one runner stealing during the course of the weekend. The Wildcats split a four-game series against Whitworth. The ’Cats next games are at home against Pacific University at noon March 2. Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer

Sophomore catcher McKenna Spieth receives a pitch during the game against Whitworth University on Feb. 24. Spieth had four hits and caught one runner stealing during the course of the weekend. The Wildcats split a four-game series against Whitworth. The ’Cats next games are at home against Pacific University at noon March 2.
Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer

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 linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com

Sophomore catcher McKenna Spieth receives a pitch during the game against Whitworth University on Feb. 24. Spieth had four hits and caught one runner stealing during the course of the weekend. The Wildcats split a four-game series against Whitworth. The ’Cats next games are at home against Pacific University at noon March 2.

Tyson Takeuchi/Senior photographer

Doucette receives athlete of the year honors at Oregon Sports Awards

She has the highest batting average, highest slugging percentage, highest on base percentage, has started the most games, holds the record for the most home runs and is tied for most games played among numerous other Linfield softball records. Can you guess which 2012 graduate holds these records? If you answered Staci Doucette, you were correct.

Linfield alum Staci Doucette was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments, while playing at Linfield College. She was awarded the Ad Rutchman Small-College Athlete of the Year Award on Feb. 10 at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

Keisha Gordon, a basketball player at George Fox University and Junia Limage, a runner at Concordia University were the other nominees for the female Athlete of the Year category.

Doucette knocked the other nominees out of the park as Jay Locey, former head coach of Linfield football (1996-2005) and current Oregon State University chief of staff, announced her as the winner.

“It was truly an honor to win the award, and to even be mentioned with some of the other nominees and award winners of the evening,” Doucette said.

She was a standout among the other athletes at the 61st Oregon Sports Award ceremony. Some of her career accolades include 73 home runs, 259 RBIs later and four-time All American.

She was happy to celebrate her accomplishments with her family at the Oregon Sports Awards. Softball has always been a big part of her life, and she has her parents to thank for that. Both of her parents played slow pitch when they were younger, so Doucette has been around the game since she was very little. Her parents rarely missed her games.
She is also grateful for the support she has received from her coaches and teammates through the years. Her coaches pushed her to think about her swing mechanics and game strategies.

“I’ve had some pretty amazing coaches, namely my summer ball coach, Tom Bequette,” she said. “Obviously, [Coach] Jackson was a huge influence, as well. Also, my Linfield teammates did a great job of pushing me, and the rest of the team, to work hard every single day.”

One of her greatest contributions to the Linfield softball program was her positive leadership. She led Catball to a second place finish at the National Tournament.

“The atmosphere of Linfield softball is amazing,” she said. “The Catball philosophy has always been to do things right, not only on the field but off of it as well. We have very high standards for ourselves, and we’re often our harshest critics. Seeing how hard everybody works every single day is pretty amazing.”

As Doucette has transitioned from a college athlete to a college graduate, she has continued to commit herself to Linfield softball. Since her move to McMinnville in December, she has been serving as the assistant coach for her former Catball teammates.

“I think softball will definitely always be apart of my life,” Doucette said. “I expect to coach for quite awhile. I’m definitely going to take some time off from playing for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I pick it up again in a few years.”

Doucette feels honored to be apart of the Linfield softball tradition and is thankful for her family, coaches and teammates.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without my teammates, so thanks you guys.”

Sarah Mason
Staff writer

Sarah Mason can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@linfield.edu

Wildcats pounce through tournament

Freshman Grace Middelstadt gives senior Staci Doucette a high five after hitting a single and failed attempt at stealing second against Benedictine on May 10. The first game set the tone for the rest of the tournament. Photo courtesy of Kelly Bird

After three games in the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament, the softball team enters the championship round with complete domination.

In the third game on May 12 versus Illinois Wesleyan University, the Wildcats kept the Titans from scoring. The first hit made by Titans outfielder Audra James, who singled to third base, but was quickly tagged out while trying to steal to second base.

The first three innings remained tight as both of the top teams made no runs.

During the third inning, three runs were scored by freshmen Grace Middelstadt and Kate Hasty and a home run from senior catcher Emilee Lepp.

No more runs were scored throughout the remainder of the game. The Wildcat defense remained strong allowing only at most one hit per inning for the Titans.

Senior Lauren Harvey allowed three hits during her four innings and sophomore Karina Paavola had one during the three innings she pitched.

The Wildcats took home the win with a score of 3-0, leading them to enter the winner’s bracket.

The second game against the Anderson University Ravens was the biggest shut out of the tournament. The Ravens entered with a 33-11 record, while Linfield had a record of 40-5. Within the first inning, the Wildcats scored six runs with the Ravens’ starter pitcher having to be relieved after five hits and five runs were scored while on the mound.

Throughout the game, the Ravens had difficulty  hitting against the all-star pitcher Paavola. They were only able to gain three in comparison to Linfield’s 12 hits.

The Wildcats made two errors during the last inning, allowing the Ravens to load the bases. Paavola ended it quickly as she struck out the next two batters with her powerful pitches. The game ended with the score 8-0, allowing them to enter the next round.

The first shut out of the tournament against Benedictine gave the Wildcats a great start for the tournament.

No runs were gained during the first two innings. One ground ball was hit by the Eagles’ sophomore outfielder Kelly Mieszala. Another hit was made by their senior outfielder Laura Christenson in the top of the third.

When Linfield came up to bat, senior Jaydee Baxter, Middelstadt, and Lepp scored the three game-winning runs. Two of the runs were brought in by a successful double hit by senior Staci Doucette.

Harvey pitched a strong seven innings with only five hits made by the Eagles. Linfield brought in its first win with a score of 3-0.

The Wildcats are now placed in the champion bracket against the Illinois Wesleyan to defend their title as NCAA Division III Regional champions.

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Ivanna Tucker/
Sports editor
Ivanna Tucker can be reached   at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

 

 

Mental toughness will make or break softball

I hate to say I told you so. I really do. But unfortunately, Pacific Lutheran handed the Linfield softball team two more home losses and broke an eight-year streak of Northwest Conference titles. In both cases, PLU’s pitching unit was just too much for the ’Cats to overcome. Just as I wrote about last week, we seem to be unable to beat them at home.

I was informed of the first defeat Saturday night by a friend of mine, Walt Haight, husband of Linfield professor Dawn Graff-Haight. I shook my head, saying, Well, I guess I’ve got my column for tomorrow. PLU has just got its number this season. Walt looked at me and, with a grin, asked, why? Why do they have their number? Is it pitching? Hitting? I couldn’t answer. There’s your angle, he told me.

Well Walt, when you’re right you’re right. I looked at the box scores of all three defeats and it took time to find any consistent pattern. In the first PLU loss this season, the Lutes piled it on
early and then late to out-score the ‘Cats. In the second, it took until the seventh-inning for PLU to find a six-run outburst to bury Linfield. This time, two close games came down to the final inning and Catball just couldn’t come from behind a 3-0 deficit late.

I’ll admit that I’m not the best at reading softball box scores, but I did eventually manage to find my answer for Walt. In three losses to PLU before Sunday, the ’Cats were averaging 3.3 errors per game opposed to their overall season average of 0.7. That’s a staggering 2.6 errors more against one opponent! And in the NWC match on Saturday, all three of the Lutes’ runs were scored on Linfield errors.

It’s clear to me now that the answer to Linfield’s PLU struggles is 100 percent in the mind. The Lutes have gotten into Catball’s head and shaken the mental toughness that was so key in last season’s championship run. The grit, the focus, the mental fortitude has been rattled by a pair of come-from-behind home losses to a dangerous team in March.

What I saw from PLU this weekend was swagger. They oozed confidence and looked like they were salivating at a chance to send the ’Cats packing in their own house. It looked familiar; it looked like us last season. And they rode that confidence straight to the house for a 3-1 record against Linfield in the NWC tourney.

Here’s the thing though. Sandwiched between these two heartbreaking PLU losses were two impressive wins. A tough 4-2 victory over Willamette was followed by a cardiac-inducing, come-from-behind thriller over the Lutes in which Catball scored the tying and winning runs on their last out in the bottom of the seventh.

When I got to the field at the bottom of the sixth, you could have heard a pin drop in Del Smith Stadium. It was utterly lifeless in the dugout and stands, at least among those wearing purple. It was the first time I’d ever seen this team truly scared.

But by the end of the game, a complete change had come over the Wildcats. They were scrapping, fighting and struggling with every ounce of their ability. The focus was back. The mental toughness, the grit, was back, and the result was a victory for the ages. Sadly, it didn’t take more than two hours for PLU’s bullpen to pitch it back into submission.

Honestly, this loss doesn’t really matter in the scope of a playoff bid. They may have lost the NWC and this may hurt like hell, but they’re going, and that really hasn’t ever been in question. But if this loaded team with title aspirations wants to hoist the D-III title trophy for a second year in a row, they’re going to need to find that mental toughness and focus from last year and hold onto it for dear life. Catch the seventh inning of Sunday’s first PLU game in a bottle and drink it before every contest. Otherwise, it’s going to be a short post-season for Catball this spring.

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Chris Forrer/
Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Wildcats face crushing losses to PLU Lutes

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.”

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Kaylyn Peterson/
Sports editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.