FOREST GROVE – The Pacific softball team finally hit the home field at Sherman/Larkins Stadium for the first time Saturday, splitting a Northwest Conference doubleheader with Willamette.
The Bearcats took advantage of a couple of mental errors in the field to force extra innings, scoring five runs in the top of the eighth to come from behind and defeat the Boxers 12-7 in game one. Pacific came back two slug four extra base hits, ending game two 12-4 by the mercy rule on a two-RBI double by Jordan Mittelsdorf with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Boxers move to 3-3 in Northwest Conference play and 5-9 overall, while Willamette went to 4-2 and 5-6 with the split.
Chelsey Chamberlain (Sr., Grants Pass, Ore.) started at pitcher in both games for Pacific, earning the win in game two with a no decision in game one. Chamberlain, who came into the game batting .214, had a breakout performance at the plate, socking her second home run of the season in game one and adding an RBI triple in game two, part of a 5 for 8 performance for the day.
In a back and forth opener, Pacific also struck early, batting around in the first inning. The Boxers pushed across three runs on RBI singles by Lauren Tuey (Sr., Redlands, Calif.) and Ashley Billingsley (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) and a bases-loaded walk to Jenny Yano (Fr., Ontario, Ore.). With the bases loaded and one out, Willamette pitcher Alex Watilo got out of the jam by striking out Kiera Melton (Fr., Pleasanton, Calif.) looking and retiring Kaitlin Shikada (Fr., Honolulu, Hawaii) on a foul pop.
Down 4-2 in the fourth, the Bearcats loaded the bases with nobody out on back-to-back walks to Mica Romero and Nichole Robertson, followed by a single by Courtney Galli. Chamberlain retired pinch-hitting Kelli Snyder on a groundout to second, but made a crucial mental mistake when the next batter, Jessica Barry, sent a grounder into her glove. Chamberlain threw home apparently thinking a force was still in play. Catcher Jordan Mittelsdorf (Sr., Boardman, Ore.) quickly fired the ball to first, but not in time to get Barry. With the bases reloaded, Allison Martin sent a triple to the wall in right-center, pushing across three runs to put the Bearcats in front 6-4.
Chamberlain had an quick shot at redemption and made the most of it, following Jenna Stevens' (Sr., Medford, Ore.) one out double in the fourth inning with a two-run homer to right, her second of the season, tying the game 6-6. Pacific took the lead in the fifth on Shikada's two-out RBI double, then had a chance to extend in the sixth inning after loading the bases with one out on singles by Stevens, Chamberlain and Mittelsdorf. But Watilo again buckled down to get a big strikeout, fanning Billingsley before retiring Yano on a soft liner to second base to end the threat.
With a 7-6 lead in the top of the seventh inning, relief pitcher Shannon Miller (So., Vancouver, Wash.), who came in for Chamberlain with one out in the fourth, walked the leadoff batter Mica Romero. Romero stole second, then advanced to third base on a swinging strike three in the dirt by Nicole Robertson. With one out and the tying run at third, Courtney Galli sent a grounder to Yano at second base. Romero went halfway down the line at third, then broke for home when Yano underhanded the ball to Billingsley at first base, easily beating the relay throw to tie the score.
In the eighth inning, Chloe Hanson (Fr., Trail., Ore.), Pacific's third pitcher of the game, retired Barry and Allison Martin back-to-back to open the frame, then started trouble by hitting Heather Winslow with her next pitch. The next five batters would reach base as Winslow stole second and scored on Theresa Martin's infield hit. Hope Kloczko doubled in Martin, later scoring on pinch-hitter Amanda Abscher's RBI single. Galli plated two more runs with a base hit to make it 12-7 Bearcats.
A potential Boxer rally in the eighth ended when Tuey hit a leadoff double, but was caught off second base after Mittelsdorf lined out to right field into a 9-6 double play.
Kloczko homered and doubled in game one for the Bearcats, driving in two and scoring two runs. Galli and Allison Martin each had three RBI in the Willamettte win. Watilo pitched all eight innings, allowing 14 hits and four walks with three strikeouts for the complete game victory. Stevens went 3 for 3 with a double and three runs scored for the Boxers in the loss. Chamberlain was 3 for 5 with two RBI. In game two, Mittelsdorf and Shikada each drove in four runs with two hits. Chamberlain, Tuey, Billingsley and Becca Moen (Fr., Gresham, Ore.) each scored two runs. Barry went 3 for 4 for Willamette in the loss. Snyder and Yvonne Drabin were each 2 for 2 with a run scored.
The Boxers return to action at McMinnville Sunday, taking on the defending NCAA Division III champion Linfield Wildcats at Del Close Field in a doubleheader that starts at noon.