No. 1 Linfield collects a pair of wins
Wildcats extend their winning streak to 14 games, after sweep
PARKLAND, Wash. -- Fueled by six home runs, top-ranked Linfield slugged its way to a doubleheader sweep of No. 7 Pacific Lutheran to seize command of the Northwest Conference title chase on Sunday.
The eight-time defending NWC champion Wildcats avenged their only losses of the season. The Lutes (24-10, 14-4 NWC) dropped to second place in the league standings. The NWC regular season champion earns the opportunity to host the four-team conference playoff tournament with the winner receiving the automatic berth to the NCAA championships.
Linfield (26-2, 16-2 NWC) stretched its current win streak to 14 games, including six consecutive victories against teams ranked among the top 25.
In game one, Jordan Mixsell clubbed the game-winning home run in the top of the seventh inning, providing the final dramatic moment in a topsy-turvy opener that unfolded like a well-played chess match.
Cashing in three hits and two PLU errors, the Wildcats took a fast 3-0 lead in the first inning. Staci Doucette, Karleigh Prestianni each picked up RBIs in the inning.
The Lutes countered with three runs of their own in the second. Kaaren Hatlen doubled to lead off the inning, the first of three PLU hits in the stanza. Lowery, Harshaw and Goings took turns driving in runs as the Lutes pulled even at 3.
Leading off the Linfield fourth, Katy Brosig gave the Wildcats 4-3 advantage with a solo home run over the left-field wall. Again, the Lutes answered the call as Hatlen swatted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, pushing the Lutes in front by one.
Doucette knotted the game once more with a solo home run in the sixth, setting the table for Mixsell’s heroics in the top of the seventh.
The Lutes nearly pulled the game out in the bottom of the seventh. Amanda Goings singled, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Montessa Califano and a ground out by Stacey Hagensen. An errant pickoff attempt at third base allowed goings to pull within 7-6. Karina Paavola struck out Amanda Hall looking to end the game.
Brosig and Mixsell each had two hits for the ‘Cats.
Paavola (13-1) earned the victory in relief of starter Lauren Harvey. Hagensen (13-5) took the loss, allowing 10 hits to the Wildcats. PLU was victimized by four errors.
In game two, Prestianni, Brosig and Mixsell each had multiple hits in the game while Baxter, Doucette and Haylie all sent home runs out of the park.
Shelby VandeBergh pitched a five-hitter
The Lutes were their own worst enemy in the top of first inning as the Wildcats converted one hit and an error into a 4-0 lead with the game less than 10 minutes old.
Hagensen doubled to center field to drive in a run and Hatlen’s sacrifice plated another run as PLU cut the Linfield lead in half in the bottom of the inning, 4-2.
Jaydee Baxter gave the Wildcats a three-run lead in the second, hitting her third home run of the season.
Linfield added two more runs in the third as Prestianni scored on a wild pitch and Brosig singled home Ashley Garcia.
Doucette launched her second home run of the afternoon and nation-leading 14th of the season in the fourth, giving the Wildcats an 8-2 lead.