Softball earns weekend split at Linfield

by Korey Hope

The Whitworth women’s softball team split its season-opening series against 5th-ranked Linfield last weekend in McMinnville, Ore. Two of the four games went into extra innings, including a 15-inning marathon on Saturday night that the Pirates won 7-6.

On Saturday, the Bucs held the lead for most of the first game, but the Wildcats managed to tie it up in the bottom of the seventh, which sent the game to extras. It remained tied at six until the bottom half of the ninth, when Linfield’s Lisa Yamamoto smacked a solo walk-off homer to seal it for the Wildcats 7-6.

But the Pirates fought back in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, and it was a complete team effort. Six different Pirates drove in a run, including freshman third baseman Bailey Kasler, who already had three RBIs in game one earlier that day.

Linfield, ranked 5th in the nation, was not going away quietly, and the game also went into extra innings. Each team scored two runs in the eighth to keep the game alive, until the 15th inning, when sophomore Riley Fritz broke the deadlock and drove in senior shortstop Caylan Haehl with a sacrifice fly to left field. The Bucs shut the Wildcats out in the bottom half of the 15th inning to finally bring the game to an end. Fritz also pitched 14 innings and faced 58 Linfield hitters, earning the victory.

The two teams played well past 7 p.m. on Saturday despite a scheduled 2:30 p.m. starting time for game two. A total of 24 innings were played in the two games combined, compared to the scheduled 14.

Sunday was a completely different story. Linfield led the Pirates 4-0 heading into the Whitworth’s half of the fourth inning, and the Bucs rallied for three runs thanks to Fritz and Haehl RBIs. Then, in the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats exploded for 11 runs on 10 hits to take a commanding 15-3 lead. The Bucs were shut out at the plate next inning, and the eight-run mercy rule came into play to end the game at 15-3 in five innings. Yamamoto led the Wildcats again, going 2-2 with three RBIs.

But the Pirates bounced back in the second game of the doubleheader yet again, with a constant barrage of power at the plate en route to a 7-6 victory. Kasler and Fritz continued their stellar weekends at bat, driving in three runs combined. Junior Julia Johnson and sophomore Sacha Clow also drove in one run each on a combined three hits. And despite a five-run 6th inning for Linfield, Fritz managed to put away the Wildcats to earn her second win in the weekend.

The Pirates are back in action this weekend, hosting 1st-ranked Pacific Lutheran for a four-game set March 2-3. Game one of the doubleheaders on both days are scheduled to begin at noon.

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