Softball sets up title fight with series win over PLU

by Andrew Goodwin | Sports Editor

Whitworth softball’s winning streak ended at 14 games after winning the first three games, but dropping the fourth in a four game series against Pacific Lutheran this weekend.

Senior Madi Perez led the way from the circle by picking up a pair of wins and a save on the weekend. The wins were Perez’s 16th and 17th of year. She currently leads the nation in victories.

Whitworth’s weekend started well as the Bucs snagged a Saturday sweep. Perez shut out the Lutes in game one as the senior struck out two batters and allowed just four baserunners. It was the first of two shutouts on the weekend for Perez.

““When Madi, or any of our pitchers, are throwing well, I think it really gives us confidence in our ability to win,” Shannon Wessel, ‘17, said. “It makes us want to work hard for them as well both on defense and offense.”

In game two, Ashley Trueblood, ‘19, continued a nice day for the Pirates in the circle. The sophomore tossed 5 1/3 innings. She gave up just three runs on six hits and struck out three Lutes.

The Pirate offense scored all of their Saturday runs after the third inning, but did enough damage to win both contests. The Bucs scored four in each game to secure 4-0 and 4-3 wins on the day. Wessel led the offense with four hits and two RBIs.

“Sometimes it takes us a bit to figure out what the pitcher is throwing,” Wessel said. “Each pitcher we face is different, but our offense is really good at making adjustments.”

On Sunday, the offense sputtered, totalling just four runs between the two games. Freshman outfielder Kinsey McNaught scored two of the Bucs’ four runs in a 3-0 game one win where Perez threw her second shutout. Wessel, Michelle Silva, ‘18, and Logan Miller, ‘20, drove in the Bucs’ three runs.

Sunday’s second game marked the end of the Pirates’ 14 game winning streak. PLU’s Elli Rassbach allowed just five Bucs to reach base and allowed only one run to earn her ninth win of the year. The PLU offense heated up as well, getting 17 runners on base in a 7-1 win.

Whitworth’s series win sets up a huge weekend for the Bucs on the road. The Pirates travel to Linfield next weekend to take on the Wildcats for the Northwest Conference title. If Whitworth wins one of the four games in McMinnville, they will win their third straight conference title. If Linfield sweeps Whitworth the conference tournament will be in McMinnville.