by James Silberman
The Whitworth softball team scored early and often last weekend in a four-game sweep of Puget Sound with an 8-0 shutout followed by a 19-0 dismantling of the Loggers in the second half of the Sunday doubleheader. Both games on Saturday ended with convincing wins, 9-1 and 6-2. The quartet of wins bring the Pirates to 18-6 on the season and 11-3 in conference.
The first game began with a scoreless first inning for both teams, followed by freshman pitcher Madi Perez retiring the Loggers in order in the top of the second.
Then the Pirates opened up the flood of scoring.
Junior left fielder Peyton McMahon and sophomore right fielder Brittany Connor began the inning with a pair of singles followed by a two-RBI triple from senior shortstop Caylan Haehl to give Whitworth a 2-0 lead.
Another three-up, three-down inning from Perez kept the Loggers off the board while the Pirate offense used back-to-back doubles from Connor and McMahon to add three more runs to their lead.
The Pirates kept their offensive momentum going in the fourth with a sacrifice groundout from senior pitcher Taylor Gilbert followed by a two-run homer from senior first baseman Julia Johnson, her fifth on the season, to finish off the 8-0 victory.
Sophomore center fielder Alyssa Hall as well as McMahon were both 3-3 at the plate with a pair of runs apiece and Haehl was 2-2 with three runs batted in.
Perez improved to 9-3 on the season with a gem, tossing a complete-game shutout, giving up only two hits and striking out five.
Even though there had not been a close game in the series, head coach Cristal Brown said she wants her players to keep improving.
“We talk to the girls every day about going pitch-by-pitch,” Brown said. “Even if we happen to pull away in a game, they know that they still have to work hard because what they do pitch-by-pitch in this game is going to make them better in the next game.”
The Pirates were in fact able to improve on the 8-0 shutout as the second game turned into an even more lopsided victory than the first.
After a quick top of the first inning for the Pirate defense, their offense exploded, putting eight runs on the board before UPS could record an out.
After a single and two walks to load the bases, Johnson singled to center field scoring two. McMahon would keep the streak going with a single to left field, bringing the lead to 3-0. Then, following junior right fielder Sacha Clow being hit by a pitch, sophomore third baseman Bailey Kasler singled up the middle clearing the bases and giving the Pirates a 6-0 lead. Freshman catcher Kayla Batastini would then single, scoring Kasler. After that, a single from freshman shortstop Tessa Matthews, along with sophomore designated hitter Megan John being hit by another pitch, loaded the bases again.
Hall would then reach first on an error, scoring Batastini to take a seven-run lead and keeping the bases loaded. Gilbert would then groundout for the first out of the inning; however, Matthews would score on the play, extending the lead to 9-0. Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to center scoring John, but Hall was doubled up at third trying to tag-up. Despite the late-inning mistake, the damage had been done as the Pirate offense had taken a commanding 10-0 first-inning lead.
Gilbert gave up the first of three UPS hits in the third inning, but once again no damage would be done by the Logger offense.
The second inning would be more of the same for the Pirate hitters as they plated six more runs, including a two-RBI single from sophomore first baseman Lyss Martinez.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, and a 1-2-3 top of the fourth for junior pitcher Riley Fritz, Whitworth hitters showed their power in the bottom of the fourth.
A double down the left field line from Clow would score Martinez setting the stage for Kasler. Kasler took the 1-1 pitch and blasted it over the center field fence to extend the Pirates’ biggest offensive output of the season to 19 runs.
“I don’t even remember the pitch to be honest,” Kasler said. “I usually can’t remember what happened on most home runs I hit.”
Fritz retired UPS in the top of the fifth to close out the season sweep of the Loggers.
“We had good pitching, good defense and good hitting, but the hitting is definitely what made the difference,” Brown said. “Our bats came alive and we put a lot of runs on the board.”
Kasler led the Pirates with a 3-3 performance at the plate to go with four runs batted in and three runs scored. Batastini went 3-4 with a pair of RBI and runs scored while Matthews added three hits and a run.
Gilbert improved to 4-2 with the win recording three shutout innings while giving up only two hits and Fritz came in for her second save tossing two shutout innings while giving up just the one hit and striking out three.
Even though the scoreboard would indicate a pair of easy victories, the Pirates still believe they can improve.
“I think these games make us better,” Kasler said. “It’s easy to get complacent but we have to keep our intensity up.”
Contact James Silberman at email@example.com