Game 2 Box Score
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Outscoring their opponent by a 21-2 margin, the Linfield Wildcats looked every bit like the nation’s top-ranked team during a doubleheader sweep of Cal Lutheran Thursday afternoon at Hutton Field.
The defending national champion Wildcats (18-2) were knocked from the top spot in the NCAA Division III coaches poll for the first time in two years after suffering back-to-back defeats 11 days earlier at the hands of Pacific Lutheran.
Since then, Linfield has gone 6-0 with all six contests ending early by virtue of the eight-run rule.
On Thursday, Linfield bounced Cal Lutheran 11-2 in five innings in the first game, then chalked up its seventh shutout victory with a 10-0, six-inning whitewash in the nightcap.
Leadoff hitter Grace Middelstadt (Sr., Battle Ground, Wash.) doubled twice, Staci Doucette went 3-for-3 with a home run and Wildcat pitchers Lauren Harvey and Shelby VandeBergh teamed up to hold the Regals to two hits in the abbreviated opener.
After Middelstadt smacked her first two-bagger to begin the game, Jaydee Baxter sent a double to center field, scoring Middelstadt. Baxter later scored on a throwing error, part of a four-run first inning.
Doucette’s second-inning single to center field made it 5-0 before the ‘Cats added to the Regals’ misery with four more runs in the third inning.
Once CLU reliever Kayla Sakamoto issued consecutive walks to start the third, Katy Brosig delivered a run-scoring double. Pinch hitter Lisa Yamamoto (Sr., Carson City, Nev.) followed up with a triple down the right-field line, scoring Brosig and Haylie Watson. A ground-out RBI from Baxter pushed the score to 9-0.
CLU got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth after a Danika Green single scored a couple of runs.
Doucette then launched her eighth home run of the season over the right-field wall, providing the final margin.
Harvey moved to 9-1 for the season, striking out five batters while giving up two hits and a pair of walks.
Emilee Lepp hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the sixth inning, and the Wildcats won the second game with apparent ease.
Lepp swatted a solo home run in her first at-bat, her seventh of the season and third in six games.
Leading off the fourth, Doucette matched Lepp with her team-leading ninth home run of the year. Watson and Brosig later added run-scoring base hits in the inning as the Wildcats went in front 4-0.
Karleigh Prestianni, who went 4-for-8 on the day, provided a RBI double in the fifth.
Things got out of hand for the Regals in the sixth. With Linfield leading 5-0, Lepp clubbed her second home run of the game to right-center field. Prestianni later drove the final nail in the CLU coffin, singling to right field to send home Doucette from second base.
Wildcats starter Karina Paavola turned in another dominating pitching performance, fanning eight Regals while surrendering two hits and a walk over the first five frames. VandeBergh recorded the final three outs, getting Sakamoto to foul out and Kathleen Watson-Otani to ground into a double play to end the game.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Doucette went 6-for-7 in the twinbill with two home runs and four RBI. . . Linfield outhit CLU 25-5, including 14 that went for extra bases. . . Wildcat pitchers Harvey, VandeBergh and Paavola combined for 14 strikeouts. . . for the season, Linfield has hit 40 home runs in 20 games . . the Wildcats have 53 stolen bases, including 12 each by Lepp and Middelstadt.
NEXT: Linfield heads south to Orange, Calif., on Friday to battle Chapman in a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. at Hart Park.