Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield is unbeaten no more.
George Fox's Allyssa DenDekker and Erin Hento combined for an unexpected six-hit shutout and the underdog Bruins knocked off the No. 11 Wildcats 2-0 in the nightcap of the teams' Northwest Conference doubleheader Sunday at Del Smith Stadium.
George Fox nearly surprised 10-time NWC champion Linfield in the opener. The Wildcats rode the arm of pitcher Karina Paavola and got just enough offense to fend off the Bruins 1-0 in 10 innings.
Game 2's upset ended one of the longest streaks of dominance by one team over another in any sport in the NWC. The Bruins at long last put a halt to a nasty 52-game series losing streak, a hex that reached all the way back to the 2001 season.
The loss, Linfield's first this season, dropped the Wildcats to 15-1, both overall and in conference play. Linfield saw its current 19-game conference winning streak also come to a close.
George Fox improved to 11-5 and 5-5 in the NWC.
GAME 1: Linfield 1, George Fox 0, 10 innings
Kenzie Schmoll (So., Grants Pass, Ore.) splashed a base hit into right field in the 10th inning, driving home Erin Carson (Sr., Camas, Wash.) for the winning run as the ‘Cats prevailed in an opening-game chess match.
Carson began the 10th with a double to left field that caught a gust of wind and sailed away from outfielder Ashley Bunce. They were the only hits of the game for both Schmoll and Carson as Hento curtailed the ‘Cats to six hits.
On the flip side of the scoresheet, Paavola struck out 17 Bruins – and was one strike from equaling the Linfield single-game record of 18 – to earn the complete-game 10-inning shutout. In her finest performance of the season, Paavola (9-0) did not allow a single walk, striking out the side in the second and eighth innings.
Paavola held George Fox to a pair of hits by Courtney Howard and Megan Furtado.
Before Carson's 10th inning double, Linfield's best chances to push across a run came in the second inning when Danielle Duman (So., Eugene, Ore.) doubled but was left stranded, and in the fifth, when Carson reached base on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Haylie Watson. But Hento calmly struck out Erin Kinney (So., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) and McKenna Spieth (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.) both swinging and the game remained scoreless.
Hento (5-3) finished with eight strikeouts and one walk.
GAME 2: George Fox 2, Linfield 0
A series of Linfield miscues produced the winning run with the game less than 10 minutes old.
Taking advantage of an error, a walk, a hit batsman and a base hit – all in the first inning – the Bruins plated an unearned run. Kayla Anderson reached base on an error by shorstop Katy Brosig, was sent to second by Amanda Woods' single, then moved to third when Linfield starter Shelby VandeBergh walked Baylee Westrick. VandeBergh pegged the next batter, Ashley Bunce, forcing home Anderson for the game's pivotal run.
In the third, George Fox tallied an insurance run on Westrick's RBI single that scored Anderson, who also singled in the inning.
Linfield put runners at first and second with one out in the fifth but failed to push them home. Pinch runner Alex Andreotti (So., San Francisco, Calif.) was picked off at second base and Watson popped out in to the glove of Furtado to end the inning.
In the Linfield seventh, Yamamoto led off with a single to short center field, but three consecutive Wildcats were called out on infield popups to end the game, touching off a mild celebration by Bruins players and coaches.
Linfield outhit George Fox 6-4 but without any run support, the Wildcats' early mistakes lingered to haunt them.
Woods and Westrick each had a pair of hits to account for the Bruins four total hits. Brosig went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Paavola came within two strikeouts of breaking graduated All-American Brittany Miller's single-game record set by against Pacific in 2009. . . Paavola raised her career strikeouts total to 442 and her career wins total to 63, eight shy of Miller's standing career mark of 71. . . George Fox's last win over Linfield before Sunday was March 10, 2001, when the Bruins blanked the Wildcats 8-0 in Newberg. . . Linfield owns a 73-9-1 all-time series advantage.
COMING UP: Linfield departs McMinnville Wednesday morning for Dallas, Texas, where the ‘Cats begin a 12-game barnstorming tour of the Lone Star State. During their time Texas, the Wildcats are scheduled to face No. 10 Texas-Tyler on March 21 and sixth-ranked East Texas Baptist on March 22.