By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer
HERMISTON, Ore. -- Michelle Silva of Whitworth University hit a grand slam in game one, and the Pirates pounded out 11 hits in game two, as the Whitworth defeated Willamette University, 6-2 and 6-2, in a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday, March 11.
Although the games were officially home contests for the Pirates, snowy conditions on Whitworth's home field in Spokane, Washington, forced the doubleheader to be played at the Hermiston High School Field in Hermiston, Oregon.
The Pirates, playing their first conference games of the season and improved their overall record to 11-3, while moving to 2-0 in NWC play. The Bearcats, who have seen several series canceled or postponed due to bad weather, fell to 1-4 overall, and 1-2 in the NWC.
Grand Slam Leads Pirates Past Willamette in Game One
A two-run double from Kealaulaikalani Gier (Fr., 3B, Kaneohe, HI/Iolani School) gave Willamette a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, but Michelle Silva hammered a one-out grand slam in the bottom of that same frame to give Whitworth a win in game one.
After Silva gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single to left center, Jade Smith (Sr., P, Chico, CA/Chico HS) tossed three scoreless innings to keep the game close.
Then, in the top of the fifth inning, the Bearcats used a two-out rally to take the lead.
Payton Reynolds (Fr., UT, Reno, NV/Reno HS) started the rally with a single to left, before advancing to third on a double to right center by Mallory Asaro (Jr., 1B, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS). Promise Burnett (So., C, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) came in to pinch-run for Reynolds, then scored with Asaro on Gier's clutch double.
In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Pirates loaded the bases on three singles, including two bunts, before Silva's homer to left gave Whitworth the lead.
The Pirates added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, but Morgan Penn (Fr., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) did well to work out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, inducing a pop up, a foul out, and a ground out.
Madi Perez, who pushed her record to 7-0, pitched a complete game for Whitworth to pick up the win, allowing four hits, two runs, and striking out six. Smith took the loss for the Bearcats, dropping to 1-3 on the season.
Miki Takara (Fr., 2B, Pearl City, HI/Maryknoll HS) reached base during all three of her plate appearances for Willamette, notching a single, two walks, and a stolen base. Nine different Pirates reached base, though Silva's homer was Whitworth's only extra-base hit.
Bearcats Leave Ten Runners on Base in Game Two
Willamette earned 10 hits over six innings against Whitworth starter Ashley Trueblood in game two, but a lack of clutch hitting and 11 hits by the Pirates gave Whitworth another 6-2 victory.
Whitworth scored one run each in the bottom of the first and second innings, but after a two hour rain delay, the Bearcats battled back to tie the game with runs in the top of the third and fourth.
Takara started the third inning with a leadoff walk, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Darian Gibson (So., OF, Newport Beach, CA/Calvary HS). Alex Shields (Sr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS) singled, sending Takara to third, before Asaro drew a walk to load the bases. Gier then earned her third RBI of the day with a bases-loaded walk, but Penn struck out to end the inning.
In the fourth, Steffany Dunn (Sr., OF, Colfax, CA/Colfax HS) hit a leadoff single, then advanced to third base on two ground outs. Gibson then came through with a two-out RBI single.
Two runs each in the fifth and sixth put the Pirates back in front. Shannon Wessel gave Whitworth the lead with a one-out, two-run single against Bearcat reliever Makayla Hari (Sr., P, Salem, OR/Blanchet Catholic HS), and Natalie Edlin padded the lead with a pinch hit, two-run homer off of Penn.
Trueblood (2-1) threw six innings for the Pirates, scattering 10 hits and recording seven strikeouts. Perez pitched the seventh inning to earn her first save. Hari (0-1) took the loss for Willamette, pitching in relief of Bearcat starter Reanna Lancaster (So., P, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS).
Wessel led Whitworth's offense in the second game, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Perez went 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run. For the Bearcats, Shields went 3 for 4, Asaro went 2 for 3, and Takara went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.
Up Next for the Bearcats
Willamette is scheduled to complete its four-game season series against the Pirates with another doubleheader on Sunday, March 12, in Hermiston. First pitch at Hermiston High School Field is set for 10 a.m. (PDT).