Game 2 Box Score
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Staci Doucette swatted two home runs and Karina Paavola (Sr., Kelso, Wash.) struck out nine batters as No. 1 Linfield edged Willamette twice to clinch the Wildcats’ ninth consecutive Northwest Conference championship on Sunday.
Doucette homered twice in Game 1 of the regular-season concluding doubleheader while Paavola earned her 18th pitching victory of the season, helping the Wildcats fend off the upset-minded Bearcats 5-3 and 5-2 at the WU Softball Field.
Linfield (35-3, 25-3 NWC) won the conference title by one game over challenger Pacific Lutheran, earning the right to host the four-team NWC playoff tournament Saturday and Sunday at Del Smith Stadium.
Sluggers Doucette, Karleigh Prestianni, Katy Brosig (Sr., Forest Grove, Ore.) and Ashley Garcia (Sr., Beaveton, Ore.) combined for 14 of the Wildcats’ 17 hits.
Doucette’s two hits off Bearcats all-star Alex Watilo both sailed out of the ballpark as the Wildcats overcame an early 1-0 deficit.
Paavola (18-1) sprinkled eight hits and a walk over seven innings, outdueling Watilo’s 11-hit, five-strikeout performance. Watilo did force the Wildcats to strand eight base runners, holding the lower-third of Linfield’s batting order without a hit.
Garcia went 3-for-4 in the game while Brosig was 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Brosig’s three-run homer in the second inning, her fifth of the season, put the visitors in front 3-0. A RBI double by Prestianni in the third added to the Wildcats’ cushion. Willamette closed to within 4-2 with single runs in the third and fourth stanzas. Linfield added an insurance run in the fifth when Emilee Lepp doubled and raced home on a RBI single from Doucette.
Lauren Harvey and Shelby VandeBergh (Sr., Beaverton, Ore.) combined to hold the Bearcats to a pair of inconsequential runs. Harvey was credited with the win to improve to 15-2.
Doucette and Prestianni each had two hits but the Wildcats were held to just six hits in the game.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Paavola’s 18th win moved her to No. 5 on the Linfield single-season victories list, seven shy of the school record of 25 . . . Harvey earned her 49th career win to move to No. 3 on the all-time list . . . Doucette’s two home runs Sunday raised her NCAA-record total to 70 . . she also surpassed 500 career total bases . . . Linfield went 3-0 at last season’s inaugural NWC tournament..
COMING UP: The NWC tournament starts Saturday. Top-seeded Linfield battles No. 4-seed George Fox at 11 a.m., followed by second-seeded Pacific Lutheran facing No. 3 Willamette at 1:30 p.m. Losers of the first two games meet in an elimination game at 4, with winners playing later on at 6:30. Complete tournament information will be released later in the week once details becomes finalized. Admission will be charge in accordance with NWC regulations. The winner of the tournament will be declared NWC Tournament Champion and will earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoff field. Additional NWC teams may receive at-large berths based on their overall record and strength of schedule.
Three hits in twinbill
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128