Wildcats sweep Pirates in last regular season series

by Tyler Jezierski

Whitworth’s softball team was swept against Linfield in two doubleheaders last weekend at Marks Field. Whitworth’s record fell to 22-12 overall and 14-8 in conference. The Wildcats improved their overall record to 28-6 and in conference 22-2.

Whitworth quickly fell behind in the first game against Linfield as junior pitcher Riley Fritz gave up an RBI double and two-run homer in the first inning, allowing Linfield to take a 3-0 lead. In the bottom of the second inning, Fritz was able to convert after senior first baseman Julia Johnson started the inning with a single up the middle. An RBI by Fritz made the game closer, 3-1.

In the top of the fifth, the Wildcats were able to score three more runs, extending their lead, 7-2. A sacrifice fly from Johnson allowed senior outfielder Mackenzie Hope to score, bringing Whitworth closer, 7-3. Despite a solid pitching performance the last couple of innings, the Bucs were unable to come back. The final score of the first game was 7-3, giving Linfield’s Karina Paavola the win (14-3), and Whitworth’s Fritz the loss (3-1).

“We need to keep believing, knowing we can do this as a team. We also need to play with confidence and make sure that every at-bat is a good at-bat and we’ll succeed,” freshman Kelsey Stroshine said.

The second game on Saturday lacked offense early, as neither team would be able to get a hit until Linfield struck at the top of the sixth. An RBI double from the Wildcat’s Katie Brosig, followed by an RBI double from Erin Kinney allowed Linfield to take the go-ahead lead, 2-0. Whitworth had a slim sight of hope at the end of the game when senior pitcher Taylor Gilbert singled up the middle. Unfortunately, junior pinch runner Sacha Clow was unable to score when Paavola collected her third strikeout of the inning and ending the game 2-0 in favor of the Wildcats.

In the third game against Linfield on Sunday, Hope started off the bottom of the first inning with a single but resulted in no runs scored. In the top of the third, Linfield was able to score three runs after a pair of hits and two errors by Whitworth’s defense. Linfield then went on to score three more runs in the seventh inning to seal a 6-0 victory. Sophomore outfielder Alyssa Hall and Hope marked the only hits of the game for Whitworth.

“The bats weren’t as good even though the defense was solid. We are going to focus on keeping our defense strong and next weekend pull through with those bats and get a win,” Hall said.

Linfield’s Haylie Watson hit a two-run home run in the top of the second inning to start the final game of the weekend.

After Johnson doubled to right center in the bottom of the inning, sophomore Brittany Connor pinch ran and scored the Bucs’ first run of the game due to a throwing error by Linfield after  a bunt from freshman second baseman Shannon Wessel. Wessel was able to score after junior Peyton McMahon hit an RBI double. Then, McMahon scored when Kelsey Stroshine hit a sacrifice fly, making the score 3-2. Linfield collected three more runs in the top of the fourth on four hits, sealing the sweep at 5-3.

“We’ll receive another opportunity to play as a team and we will get better each time. I look forward to playing together and making the most of our season,” Wessel said.

Whitworth will wrap up the regular season on the road, visiting Pacific Lutheran for a makeup game on Thursday, April 10, before taking on Lewis & Clark April 12-13.

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