Pirates extend NWC lead with strong week

by Andrew Goodwin | Sports Editor

While many college students traveled to exoctic locales for their spring break, Whitworth softball headed to Portland this week to take on a pair of Northwest Conference foes.

The Bucs exited the weekend with seven wins and just a single loss. The successful week brings their record to 21-5 with a league-leading 14-2 mark in the Northwest Conference.

Pirate pitchers Madi Perez, ‘17, and Ashley Trueblood, ‘19, had outstanding weekends from the circle. The two starters combined to allow one run or less in six of the Bucs’ eight games, including an extra innings showdown with George Fox in the final game of the week.

Despite Perez’s best efforts, however, the Bucs dropped the first game of the week against Pacific 1-0. Kinsey McNaught, ‘20, and Desi Graham, ‘19, picked up the Pirates’ only two hits, and Pacific’s Katelyn Macaitis-Smith punished a rare mistake pitch from Perez for the Boxers’ lone run.

The Bucs bounced back after the loss to snag a series win with three consecutive victories over Pacific. Whitworth’s offense came to life, scoring 24 runs in three games to earn the wins by scores of 3-0, 15-1, and 6-4.

“As a team, we don’t let little things defeat us mentally and came back strong in the last three games,” McNaught said.  

Though their record against George Fox doesn’t support this fact, the Bucs had a bit more trouble with the Bruins in their second series of the week.

Whitworth pulled out a pair of 1-0 wins, one each on Wednesday and Thursday, thanks to Perez’s outstanding work in the circle. In fourteen total innings of work Perez struck out seven Bruins and allowed just five hits.

The Pirates won their other two games against the Bruins after trailing in the late innings. On Wednesday, George Fox lead the Bucs 6-4 late in the game. The Pirates would need a comeback in the top of the seventh to secure the win.

Rheanne Lewis knocked in fellow freshman Natalie Edlin to close the gap to 6-5 before Shannon Wessel tripled to right-center field, scoring Lewis. The Bruins then intentionally walked junior Michelle Silva to no avail, as Perez drove home Wessel with a single to third base, making the score 7-6.

In the final game of the weekend, the Bucs needed an extra inning to finish off a 5-2 win.

Myranda Ramirez, ‘17, singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth, but Whitworth wouldn’t have made it to extras without the work of McNaught. The freshman drove in both of Whitworth’s two runs during the first seven innings to keep the Pirates in it. She also scored Whitworth’s second run of the eighth inning.

“My coaches pulled me aside between games and helped me out mentally,” McNaught said. “They helped me remember to trust my skills and just do what I always do.”

The Pirates will look to continue their seven game win streak this weekend, when they will play at home for the first time this season.

“I actually don’t even know what it’s like to play at home yet,” McNaught said. “ I know it will mean a lot to the seniors to finally be back on our field.”

Whitworth will take on Puget Sound this weekend in another four-game series April 1-2. The Loggers currently own an 11-14 overall record with a 4-10 mark in Northwest Conference play. The first games of both days will take place at noon with the nightcaps scheduled for 2 p.m.