by Sena Hughes
The Whitworth softball team kicked off its season last weekend, going 2-4 in the Northwest Cup in Clackamas, Ore. The Pirates dealt with constant rain all weekend, making for wet fields and cold conditions.
“It was really good for us to get out on the dirt and work as a team,” freshman pitcher Riley Fritz said.
The Bucs went 1-1 Friday, losing their season opener to the College of Idaho and beating Concordia University (Ore.) later in the day. Whitworth hung with C of I for most of the first game, but fell to the Coyotes 2-1. Senior Sami Parr had the lone run in the top of the first inning when junior Jamie Brunner was walked. After its initial run in the fourth, the C of I hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win. Fritz pitched in her first career start for the Pirates.
Concordia and Whitworth duked out a hard-fought battle in the second day of competition. The Pirates started strong with nine runs coming in the first two innings. Concordia cut the lead to 9-5 in the fifth inning, but Parr clubbed her first homer of the season to keep Whitworth in control of the game. Redshirt freshman Taylor Gilbert pitched the first 2.1 innings and was relieved by Fritz, who secured the victory for the Bucs.
Whitworth split again on Saturday beating North- west Christian University 6-5 and losing to Corban University 12-4. In the NCU game, Whitworth got off to a quick start and led most of the game. NCU made a run, but the Bucs pulled out a close win thanks to three runs in the final inning.
“I think the biggest highlight [of the weekend] was our comeback win against Northwest Christian,” Parr said. “Everyone showed a lot of character and didn’t give up going into last inning.”
Freshman Megan Fisher pitched 4.2 innings in her first career start. Junior Heather Hesselgesser had a team-high two hits.
In Saturday’s second game, Whitworth could not match the late momentum of Corban University who scored eight of its 12 runs in the final few innings. Fritz started the game again, pitching for the first 5.1 innings, but Gilbert came in to close. Parr led the team with three runs and three hits.
“As a team the biggest area of improvement would be consistency,” Parr said. “We need to string some stuff together and perform [our best] each inning both offensively and defensively.”
After beating Concordia Friday, the Pirates fell 8-0 in the rematch on Sunday. Whitworth struggled at the plate; they were held hitless and were on base just twice due to walks.
“As a team, we need to improve on some things, but nothing that a few practices can’t work out,” Fritz said.
Sunday afternoon the Bucs lost 7-3 to the defending NAIA National Champion Oregon Tech Owls in their final game of the weekend. In the third inning, the Owls exploded offensively scoring all eight of their runs and leaving Whitworth in the dust. Fritz pitched 6.1 innings. Freshman Ashlyn Mundo led the team with three hits.
“I think it was even if we didn’t play to our full potential it was good to get out and play this weekend and travel with the girls,” Fritz said. “I think we’ll be ready when league starts.”
Whitworth plays its first Northwest Conference series against Linfield on Saturday and Sunday at home.
“It’s just really good to see the character of the team,” Parr said. “We had a couple [of] big losses but it’s really good to see people bounce back from that. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the season goes.”
Contact Sena Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org.