Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – All-America pitching ace Karina Paavola piled up 15 strikeouts while playing a major role in Linfield's Northwest Conference doubleheader sweep of the Pacific Boxers Wednesday night at Del Smith Stadium.
The 11th-ranked Wildcats slipped past the title-contending Boxers 3-2 in the opener, then rallied for a 5-4 eight-inning triumph in the nightcap to push their season record to a perfect 12-0.
Pacific (11-4, 6-3 NWC), winners of seven of its last eight games, saw its modest four-game win streak ended.
GAME 1: Linfield 3, Pacific 2
Paavola struck out nine Boxers, including the game-clincher in the seventh inning, and Ashley Garcia swatted the game-winning RBI in the sixth as the Wildcats fought off the upset-minded Boxers in the opener.
Pacific starter Allie Sims conceded two singles and a walk in the bottom of the first as the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out. A Sims pitch grazed Haylie Watson, forcing home leadoff hitter Grace Middelstadt (Sr., Battle Ground, Wash.) for the game's first run. Erin Carson (Sr., Camas, Wash.) drove a fly ball to center field that was snagged by Becca Moen for the second out and Moen threw out Katy Brosig at home plate.
A double by Danielle Duman (So., Eugene, Ore.) to lead off the second inning set the table for another run. Middelstadt followed with a single to left field that scored Duman and the Wildcats led 2-0.
Pacific pulled within one run in the fourth as Quirena Natividad hammered her fourth home run of the season over the left-field wall. With two outs in the sixth, Paavola issued a pair of walks and Pacific Emmie Moser knotted the score with a RBI single that plated Natividad.
Brosig delivered a two-out double to center field, bringing Garcia to the plate. Garcia zipped a line-drive double to center, sending Brosig around the bases for a 3-2 Wildcats advantage.
Paavola asserted herself from there, clinchoing the game in the Wildcats' favor in the seventh.
Linfield outhit Pacific 7-2 but the Wildcats stranded 10 runners to keep the game close. Allowing seven hits and four walks, Sims suffered her first defeat, falling to 7-1.
Paavola (6-0) fanned nine batters while allowing Pacific just a couple of hits. Middelstadt and Brosig each turned in two hits for the ‘Cats.
GAME 2: Linfield 5, Pacific 4, 8 innings
A passed ball in the eighth inning proved fatal for the Boxers, who twice jumped to leads on the Wildcats only to watch as the home team turned the tide.
Like a bad check, Paavola bounced back to haunt Pacific in the nightcap, rolling up six more strikeouts while containing the Boxers to two hits in 3 1/3 innings of action.
Pacific capitalized on two hits and a walk for a couple of quick runs in the top of the first. Natividad hit into a fielder's choice, driving in Rachel Roberts from second base. Natividad then stole third and scored the second unearned run of the inning when Megan Winans tapped a single to center field.
Aided by a hit batsman and a walk, Linfield parked runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom of the second, but Kenzie Schmoll (So., Grants Pass, Ore.) popped up into the infield.
Montana McNealy (Sr., Aloha, Ore.) replaced Wildcats starter Shelby VandeBergh to begin the third inning but a fielding error by Brosig and a passed ball enabled Winans to reach third base. A single to right field by Nalani Antonio made it 3-0 in the visitors' favor.
Linfield rallied to square the game in the bottom of the third. McKenna Spieth (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.) drew a walk and moved to second on a bunt single by Middelstadt. Brosig singled to load the bases with no outs, setting the stage for a RBI single from Garcia that cut the margin to 3-1. A sacrifice fly by Erin Kinney (So., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) sent Middlestadt home and a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Watson soon followed, knotting the game at 3.
Pacific kept the pressure on in the fourth, snatching the lead once more on a RBI single by Oshiro with one out. The Boxers nearly pushed another run across, before Paavola returned to the circle to catch Moen looking on a called third strike.
Kinney evened the contest at 4 with two outs in the fifth, blasting her first collegiate home run past the wall in left field.
With two outs in the eighth, Erin Carson (Sr., Camas, Wash.) delivered a well-placed triple to right-center, opening the door to the game-altering passed ball.
Paavola recorded six strikeouts against the 12 batters she faced in relief, limiting the Boxers to one hit across the final 3 1/3 frames.
The Boxers had every opportunity to knock off the Wildcats, but failed to capitalize on 11 hits, four walks and two Linfield errors. Linfield was limited to six hits but Pacific stranded 11 runners.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Paavola's two pitching victories raised her career wins total to 61. . . the Wildcats extended their series winning streak over the Boxers to 22 games. . . the last time Pacific beat Linfield in softball was April 18, 2009 by a score of 4-0.
AHEAD: Linfield and Pacific reunite Saturday in Forest Grove for a NWC doubleheader starting at noon. Sunday, the ‘Cats return home to face the George Fox Bruins, also at noon.