Game 2 Box Score
Career Record Book
FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Claire Velaski pocketed a pitching win and a record-setting save on the same day, Lauren Harvey registered her 30th career victory, and the top-ranked Linfield Wildcats swept a Northwest Conference doubleheader from the Pacific Boxers Saturday afternoon at Sherman/Larkins Stadium.
Linfield (36-2, 25-1 NWC) entered Saturday’s twinbill needing just one victory over Pacific to lock up at least a share of its eighth straight NWC crown. In the end, the Wildcats carved out two hard-fought wins to cinch the league championship outright with two regular-season games remaining on the schedule.
Linfield ran its current win streak to 25 games, one shy of the school record of 26 set last season. More importantly, the victories assured the 'Cats of hosting next week’s inaugural NWC tournament. The winner of the four-team double-elimination tournament, set for Friday and Saturday at the Linfield diamond, earns the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Pacific (22-16, 12-14 NWC) saw its postseason hopes dashed. Following Willamette’s doubleheader sweep of Whitworth on Saturday, the Boxers are assured of finishing fifth in the final NWC standings, one spot out of playoff contention.
The Boxers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning before the Wildcats awoke and reeled off the next eight runs, putting the game out of reach by the sixth inning.
A run-scoring double by Emilee Lepp in the third inning pulled the ‘Cats even, then an RBI single from Karleigh Prestianni put Linfield in front for good.
The visitors plated five runs in the sixth inning as Lepp, Prestianni and Alex Hartmann took turns driving home runs.
Velaski was masterful in four innings of action, fanning six Boxers while allowing just one hit. The senior southpaw improved to 16-1 for the season and 43-6 for her career.
Linfield outhit Pacific 12-4 as Keagbine, Prestianni, Hartmann and Jordan Mixsell all had multiple base hits.
As Pacific’s Chelsey Chamberlain and Linfield’s Karina Paavola (Sr., Kelso, Wash.) staged an old fashioned pitcher’s duel, the game remained a scoreless standoff over the first five innings.
The Wildcats found all the offense they would need in the sixth. Emily Keagbine doubled to lead off the inning and Linfield eventually loaded the bases on Chamberlain. A bunt single by Hartmann notched the game-winner as Keagbine scored and a sacrifice RBI by Ashley Garcia (Sr., Beaveton, Ore.) added an insurance run.
Paavola limited the Boxers to three hits and a pair of walks before turning the game over to Harvey to begin the fifth. Velaski relieved Harvey in the seventh, holding Pacific hitless the rest of the way.
Earning her seventh career save, Velaski established a new school record while moving past former Wildcats All-American Brittany Miller on the all-time ladder. Harvey picked up her 30th career victory in middle relief, improving to 12-0 for the season.
Kayla Hubrich was the only Wildcat with more than one hit as both teams managed just five hits in the contest.
NEXT: Providing its home field is playable, Linfield will host Pacific in the regular-season finale Sunday at noon. The Wildcats’ diamond absorbed nearly two inches of rain in a 48-hour period Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was dry, giving the field a chance to drain.
Collects win and a save on same day
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128