PLU Edges Bearcats 4-1 in 9 Innings to Sweep Twinbill; Lutes Win Opener, 10-3

Morgan Penn (Fr., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS)
Morgan Penn (Fr., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, Ore. -- Pacific Lutheran University used two hits and two errors to score three unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning, and the Lutes went on to defeat Willamette University, 4-1, in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, March 19 at the WU Softball Field. The Lutes led 5-3 after five innings in the first game, before pulling away from the Bearcats for a 10-3 win.

PLU upped its overall record to 13-5, including 9-3 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette ended the day at 2-7 on the season, 2-5 in the NWC.

Mallory Asaro (Sr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS) of Willamette hit a solo home run in the first game. Steffany Dunn (Sr., RF, Colfax, CA/Colfax HS) went 4 for 5 on the afternoon, including a double and an RBI in the first game.

Four Runs in Sixth Inning Help Lutes Win Game 1

The Lutes scored one run in the first inning of the opening game, and then tacked on three runs in the second inning for a 4-0 lead. After Willamette cut the lead to 5-3, PLU scored four times in the top of the sixth inning.

With one out in the first, Becca Sorensen singled to center and Samantha Simundson walked. Anna Overland reached first on a fielding error to load the bases. Sorensen scored on a sacrifice fly by Nichole Schroeder. Kathryn Hatlen flied out to end the threat.

PLU registered four hits with two outs in the second inning. Jessica Alcomendas singled and Emily McConnell blasted a two-run homer to left center. Sorensen doubled, Simundson was hit by a pitch, and Overland provided an RBI single through the left side.

The Bearcats earned their first run in the bottom of the second. Kea Gier (Fr., 3B, Kaneohe, HI/Iolani School) hit a single up the middle to start the inning. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Maya Shipway (Fr., 1B, Bothell, WA/The Bear Creek School) and went to third on a single by Dunn. Gier scored on a double-steal, but Dunn was thrown out at second.

Hatlen singled in the third inning and eventually scored on a dropped fly ball in the outfield with two outs. The unearned run gave PLU a 5-1 margin. Shipway walked for the Bearcats in the fourth inning and scored on a double by Dunn. In the fifth, WU added another run on Asaro's solo homer.

Pacific Lutheran responded with four runs on five hits in the sixth inning. The frame began with  Alcomendas earning an infield hit by barely beating out a throw from third base. McConnell earned a bunt single in front of home plate, and then Sorensen hit a bloop single down the right field line. Amy King drove in two runs with a double to left field. Overland added a sacrifice fly to score Sorensen. King tallied the fourth run later in the inning by stealing home.

The Lutes added one runs in the top of the seventh. Alcomendas tripled down the right field line with one out. McConnnell followed with an RBI single.

Marissa Miller of PLU threw a complete game on 134 pitches to earn the win. She improved to 7-2 on the season. Miller struck out three batters and recorded five walks. WU starter, Jade Smith (Sr., P, Chico, CA/Chico HS) allowed five runs -- three earned -- and fell to 2-4 on the season.

McConnell and Sorensen each went 3 for 5 during the game for the Lutes. McConnell registered three RBIs and scored two runs. Sorensen crossed the plate three times. Dunn was 2 of 2 for the Bearcats, while Asaro finished 2 for 4.

Starting Pitchers Battle it Out in Game 2

The starting pitchers in the second game limited each team to just one run in the first eight innings. Three unearned run in the ninth led to the 4-1 win by Pacific Lutheran.

Elli Rossbach of PLU threw all nine innings. She allowed six hits with two strikeouts and two walks. The victory gives her a 5-3 record this season.

Morgan Penn (Fr., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) pitched the first eight innings for the Bearcats. She gave up a single to the first batter in the top of the ninth inning before leaving the circle. Penn, now 0-1, limited the Lutes to two runs (one earned), one walk, five singles and one double.

The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Darian Gibson (So., LF, Newport Beach, CA/Calvary HS) smacked a triple down the right field line. Asaro hit an infield single to bring home Gibson. A throwing error at the end of the play allowed Asaro to reach second. Rossbach earned a strikeout to end the inning.

PLU tied the game in the top of the fourth. Overland hit a double to right center with one out. Hatlen singled through the right side one out later to score Overland from second.

Neither team scored again until the ninth inning. Even so, Willamette had a runner at second in the seventh stanza and again in the eighth.

In the seventh, Vanessa Almaraz (Fr., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS) received a pinch-hit walk with two outs. Promise Burnett (So., C, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) re-entered at first base and went to second on a wild pitch. Rassbach struck out Alexia Pratt (Sr., OF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) for the third out.

Miki Takara (Fr., 2B, Pearl City, HI/Maryknoll HS) led off the eighth with a single through the left side. Alex Shields (Sr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS) sent Takara to second with a sacrifice bunt. Gibson popped out to third base. With two outs and first base open, Asaro was intentionally walked. Gier flied out to left field.

Overland opened the ninth with an infield single. Schroeder reached base on a throwing error from third, as Overland advanced two bases. Hatlan struck out, but pinch-runner Kailyn Osaki stole second. Jesseca Wallace batted next and hit the ball toward shortstop. Asaro threw home, but the ball hit Overland as she neared the plate. Osaki also scored. Rassbach provided an RBI single to drive in Wallace.

Only two batters -- one from each team -- earned two hits in the second game. Dunn was 2 of 3 at the plate for the Bearcats, while Overland went 2 for 4 with two runs scored for the Lutes.

Up Next for Willamette

The Bearcats and Pacific Lutheran are scheduled to play another doubleheader on Monday, March 20. First pitch at the WU Softball Field is set for 11 a.m. (PDT).