Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – It may have been a first for the league, but it was business as usual for the Linfield softball team as the No. 1 Wildcats went 2-0 on the first day of the inaugural Northwest Conference Softball Tournament Friday at the Linfield softball diamond.
Claire Velaski pitched a complete game to help Linfield (40-2) open tournament play with a 4-2 win over the fourth-seeded Willamette Bearcats (19-18) by a score of 4-2.
Playing their first home game of the season under the lights, the Wildcats then defeated Pacific Lutheran 11-2 in five innings. The Lutes (30-2) are the only NWC team to defeat the Wildcats this season. Emilee Lepp provided the game-winning grand slam home run in the bottom of the fifth.
It was Willamette that struck first in the top of the first frame. With one out and a runner on second, the Linfield defense failed to turn a double play to end the inning. Batter Courtney Galli was safe at first as baserunner Nichole Robertston scored.
The ‘Cats quickly erased the deficit in their first chance at offense. Lepp hit a long ball off the center field fence to drive home Kayla Hubrich from second, but was out on the play as she tried to stretch the hit into a double. Next at the plate was Staci Doucette, who hit a solo homer to give Linfield a 2-1 lead.
After three scoreless innings, Doucette once again provided the offense for the top-seeded team with a double to score Jaydee Baxter from second in the bottom of the fifth. The ‘Cats extended their lead to three runs with an RBI single by Karleigh Prestianni (Sr., Grants Pass, Ore.).
Willamette’s Kelli Snyder hit a leadoff home run at the top of the seventh to pull the Bearcats to within two. But three of the next four batters popped out to end the rally and the game.
Velaski earned her 18th win of the season after pitching the full game for the Wildcats. She tallied two strikeouts and gave up seven hits over seven innings of work.
Offensively, Doucette was 2-for-2 and Hubrich was 3-for-4.
Linfield lit up Pacific Lutheran’s starting pitcher Stacey Hagensen early and often. First up was Hubrich, who used her wheels to turn a hit to center field into a triple. Two batters later, Lepp brought her home with a double down the left field line. Doucette then blasted a two-run homer over the center field and Alex Hartmann finished up the scoring spurt with a two-RBI single to give the ‘Cats an early 5-0 lead.
The Lutes got on the board in the top of the second thanks to a defensive miscue by the Wildcats. Haley Harshaw singled, allowing Shelby Hasse to advance to third and then score due to an error on the throw to first base.
With the score sitting at 7-2 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, NCAA Division III home-run record holder Lepp stepped up to the plate. She rose to the occasion, blasting a grand slam to end the game.
Lauren Harvey picked up the win for the ‘Cats, getting in three innings of work before being relieved by Karina Paavola (Jr., Kelso, Wash.). PLU’s Hagensen pitched four innings, giving up 10 hits.
Emily Keagbine had a monster outing at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a home run, totaling five RBI. Lepp was 2-for-4 with five RBI, Hartmann was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and Baxter went 2-for-4 with one run scored.
NEXT: Linfield plays the winner of the loser-out morning game between Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.
Grand slam in Game 2
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128