Willamette Battles Early in Both Games, but Bearcats Fall to Bruins in Twinbill

Vanessa Almaraz (Jr., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS)
Vanessa Almaraz (Jr., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

NEWBERG, Ore. -- Willamette University took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of both games, but George Fox University rallied to defeat the Bearcats, 6-3 and 13-2, during Northwest Conference action on Friday, April 19. The Bruins won the second game on the run rule in five innings. GFU improved to 23-13 overall, 15-10 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 7-30 on the season, 6-20 in the NWC.

GFU pitcher Winter Ridgeway threw a complete-game, three-hitter in the opener. She struck out two batters and allowed one walk. The Bruins broke extended a 3-2 lead by scoring three run in the fourth. Willamette relief pitcher Aaliyah Lopez-Martinez (Jr., UT, Northridge, CA/Cleveland HS/L.A. Valley College) allowed no hits and tow runs over the final 2 1/3 innings on defense.

In the second game, Sarah Storton and Caitlyn Rhoades of GFU combined on a one-hitter. Vanessa Almaraz (Jr., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS) earned Willamette's only hit with a single to right center in the fourth inning.

It will be Senior Day at Willamette when the teams complete the series with a doubleheader at the WU Softball Field on Saturday, April 20. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. (PDT).

Bishop's Single Starts 2-Run First Inning for Bearcats in Opener

Emily Bishop (Sr., OF, Maple Valley, WA/Tahoma HS/Pierce College) hit a single to center field as the leadoff batter in the first inning. Bishop moved to third after Jocelyn Glasgo (Jr., P, Rochester, WA/Tumwater HS) and Payten Healy (Fr., SS, Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS) were both hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Bailey Hillmick (So., DP/UT, Athena, OR/Weston-McEwen HS) sent Bishop across the plate with a ground out to second. Almaraz batted next and hit a pop-up caught by the second baseman that allowed Glasgo to score for a 2-0 lead.

George Fox tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Kimi Ito went to first on a fielding error and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Alyssa Gonzalez, who walked as the second batter, also attempted to score, but was throw out at the plate. Roni Braun later scored a second unearned run when Allison Meyer reached base on an error.

Claire Fountain blasted a solo home run for the Bruins as the leadoff batter in the bottom of the third, giving GFU a 3-2 advantage. The Bruins added three runs in the fourth, with Aaliyah Kautz hitting a two-run single and Meyer driving in one run with a single to left.

The Bearcats pulled within 6-3 in the top of the seventh, but couldn't keep the rally going. With two outs, Kea Gier (Jr., 3B, Kaneohe, HI/Iolani School) walked and stole second. She scored on a single by Cassie Cosler (Fr., 1B, Albany, OR/West Albany HS). Danielle Koontz (So., OF, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) pinch-ran for Cosler, and Kaitlyn Wells (So., UT, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) pinch-hit. Wells singled to advance Koontz to third, but Ridgeway forced Sailor Mickey (Fr., 2B, Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge HS) to ground out.

Willamette's three hits were earned by Bishop, Cosler and Wells. Gonzalez was 2 for 2 with two walks and a run scored for GFU. She was the only player with more than one hit.

Bearcats Hold 2-1 Lead into Fourth Inning in Second Game

The Bearcats scored twice in the first inning of the second game without the offense recording a hit. Bishop was hit by a pitch to open the game. Glasgo also was hit by a pitch. Two outs later, the runners were at second and third. Almaraz hit into a error at shortstop that also allowed Bishop and Glasgo to score. Almaraz stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher, but a ground out ended the threat.

Ito blasted a solo homer to right field to start the bottom of the first, as GFU cut the margin to 2-1. Neither team scored in the second inning, but the Bruins plated four runs in the third for a 5-2 edge. All four runs scored on a grand slam homer by Kautz.

In the top of the fourth, Almaraz registered WU's only hit of the game. She singled with one out and went to second on a wild pitch. Kelsey Wong (Fr., UT, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) walked. Both runners advanced on a foul out by Cosler, but Storton earned a strikeout to escape the inning.

The Bruins extended their lead to 13-2 with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth. Key hits for GFU were a two-run homer by Tanner Higgins, a three-run double by Meyer, and a two-run homer by Allisa Yabumoto.

Only two players earned more than one hit for the Bruins, who had eight hits during the game. Braun was 2 of 3 and scored twice. Yabumoto went 2 for 3.

Emily Bishop (Sr., OF, Maple Valley, WA/Tahoma HS/Pierce College)

Big Moment of the Day for Willamette

Emily Bishop singled to open the first game and went on to
score, helping Willamette take a quick 2-0 lead. In the second
game, she was hit by a pitch to start the first inning, and scored
again to help the Bearcats grab a 2-0 lead.