Softball swept by Linfield

by Sena Hughes

It was a long weekend for the Whitworth softball team. What had originally been planned as a Saturday-Sunday home series here at Whitworth’s Diana Marks Field, ended up being played on Sunday in Pasco, Wash. at Columbia Basin College and into Monday at Hermiston High School in Hermiston, Ore.  The defending NCAA division III national champions, Linfield College, swept the Pirates in four games.

“It’s annoying to not be able to play at home but I think as athletes and [especially] spring athletes, we’re all pretty used to it,” sophomore Jessica Ross said.

Coach Cristal Brown agreed with Ross, but additionally acknowledged the benefit of being able to practice on the field in Pasco for a day before competitive play actually started. In regards to the losses, Brown recognized the rigor of Whitworth’s schedule in the first few weekends of play.

“[It’s sort of like] you take your licks, but then keep moving,” Brown said. “It will make us stronger.”

Sunday the Bucs were outscored 23-3 by the Wildcats.  The first game, Whitworth lost 13-2.  Linfield got out to a quick 7-0 start, then scored its last six runs in the sixth inning alone. Ross had a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to give the Pirates their only runs of the game.

In the afternoon, Linfield buried Whitworth, 10-1. The Wildcats were unstoppable offensively early in the game, scoring 9 of their 10 runs in the first two innings. Freshman Sacha Clow had one of Whitworth’s three hits in the game and later batted in sophomore Hanna Boyd on a ground out in the third for Whitworth’s only run of the afternoon.

Brown noted that the coaching staff just switched Boyd to a left-handed bat last month and complimented her progress in the change.

“We’re looking forward to what her bat will bring for us,” Brown said.

Monday wasn’t much better to the Bucs. The earlier game of the day also came out 10-1, Linfield. Clow batted in junior Sami Parr in the first to get Whitworth out to the quick lead. The rest of the game was all Linfield. The Wildcats exploded in the sixth and final inning, scoring five of their 10 runs. Freshman Riley Fritz pitched 5.1 innings for the Pirates.

“As long as she looks at this weekend as a learning experience, I think we will see good things out of Riley as the year continues,” Brown said of the pitcher.

Monday afternoon the Wildcats momentum carried them to their fourth victory. Linfield got out to the quick 3-0 lead in the first two innings, but Whitworth battled back in the bottom of the second to make it a 3-2 game. The Wildcats came out with a booming nine runs in the fourth inning, following three in the third to blow the game open.

Brown commented on her team’s resilience throughout the weekend.

“Linfield took it to us on Sunday, but our girls still bounced back on Monday and even led for [part of the game],” Brown said.

Whitworth has also been at a disadvantage due to field conditions in Spokane. While other league teams have been practicing on their home fields, the Pirates have been in a gym trying to do as much as they can to prepare for the season. Brown and her team know that this was a weekend to learn.

“We just need to keep our heads up and remember that this is just one weekend in our season,” Ross said.

Due to the scheduling shifts in the week, the Bucs will only practice twice this week before traveling to Tacoma, Wash., to take on Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday and Sunday.

“PLU is going to be tough but we’re hoping the fact that we dealt with Linfield this weekend will just make us stronger,” Brown said. “[We have] 2 days of practice to try to pinpoint some individual things that each girl can work on. If we can do that we will be stronger as a team.”

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