‘Cats Take The Fifth, Pound Pacific In Twinbill Sweep
LAKEWOOD, Wash. – The fifth inning was home run derby time for the Linfield softball team on Saturday.
The Wildcats swept a doubleheader from Pacific in a pair of five-inning, mercy-rule shortened games, hitting every one of their five home runs in the fifth inning of both games. The 'Cats defeated the Boxers 10-2 in game one and took the nightcap by a score of 12-1 to improve their Northwest Conference record to 12-2, 14-2 overall. Pacific dropped to 6-8 and 8-14 with the losses as the Wildcats swept all four games of the season series in five innings.
In game two, Pacific's only run was unearned after a double error on Karleigh Prestianni at third base put Kaitlyn Shikada (Fr., Honolulu, Hawaii) on second to lead off the third inning. Nikki King advanced Shikada to third with a single and Chelsey Chamberlain brought the freshman second-sacker home with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The Boxers threatened throughout the game, putting runners in scoring position in four of the five innings, but could only manage the lone run, stranding six on the bases.
Linfield gradually built up to its fifth-inning power surge in game two. The Wildcats scored one in the first inning, then put five consecutive runners on base in the third to push across two more runs, before Pacific cut the Wildcat lead to 3-1.
Shannon Miller (0-4) started game two in the circle for Pacific, surrendering six hits and three runs, all earned, before giving way to Jenn Yano in the fourth. The freshman righthander promptly loaded the bases with nobody out after a walk to Megan Wallo and back-to-back base hits by Jaydee Baxter and Emilee Lepp. With the power-hitting first baseman Staci Doucette at the plate, a surprising bunt put the ball right out in front of home plate. Catcher MacKenzie LaMotte (Fr., Hillsboro, Ore.), getting a rare start, pounced on the ball and dove back to tap home plate just in front of the sliding Wallo to record the first out of the inning. Prestianni followed with a line drive down the left field line for a two-run single. Ashley Garcia plated another run with a ground out and Jordan Mixsell drove in her third run of the game with a base hit to put the Wildcats up 7-1.
The Boxers got a leadoff double from Ashley Billingsley in their half of the fourth, but Linfield starting pitcher Karina Paavola, who pitched five innings of no-hit ball against the Boxers in McMinnville on March 4, buckled down to retire the next three batters, fanning Kiera Melton (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Randee Layosa (So., Lihue, Hawaii) back-to-back to end the inning.
In the fifth, two-run homers by Doucette and Garcia put the game on short notice. Erin Carson tacked on the final run with an RBI single in her only at bat of the day.
The Boxers loaded the bases with one out in the home half of the fifth off new pitcher Shelby VandeBergh, but Lauren Tuey (Sr., Redlands, Calif.) grounded into a 5-4 double play to end the game.
Linfield outhit Pacific 14-5 in game two as six different Wildcats finished with multiple hits. Mixsell went 3 for 3 with three RBI, while Prestianni finished 2 for 3 with three runs scored and three RBI. Baxter and Mixsell each finished with four hits on the afternoon for Linfield. Paavola (7-1) earned the win, giving up three hits and one unearned run with five strikeouts and one walk.
For Pacific, Chamberlain and Tuey each had two hits on the day. Chamberlain drove in two runs, going 2 for 4 across the doubleheader. Layosa had a diving catch at the right field foul line in the first inning in the defensive play of the day. Pacific committed just one error in game two after four miscues in the first game. All three of Linfield's errors in the doubleheader occurred at third base, as only one of the three runs scored by the Boxers on the day was charged to a Wildcat pitcher.
The Boxers head to Salem to take on Willamette on Sunday in a doubleheader scheduled to start at noon. That will be the final NWC game for Pacific until a trip to George Fox on the final day of March. Next week, the Boxers travel to Southern Oregon University in Ashland for a non-conference doubleheader on Wednesday, March 21 before hosting Eastern Oregon on the following Wednesday, March 28. All doubleheaders are scheduled noon starts.