Willamette Wins 4-3 in 9 Innings to Start Doubleheader with #24 Whitworth

Ashley Pender (Sr., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS)
Ashley Pender (Sr., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS)

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, Ore -- Kathryn Moore (So., 3B, Reno, NV/Robert McQueen HS) scored from third base when Elaine Norcia (So., 1B, Santa Ynez, CA/Santa Ynez Valley HS) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to send Willamette University past #24-ranked Whitworth University, 4-3, in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday, March 28. Whitworth edged the Bearcats in the second game, 1-0.

Willamette ended the day with an 11-6 overall record, including 7-5 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth, ranked nationally in NCAA Division III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), went to 18-7, 10-4 in the NWC.

The teams will complete the four-game series of make-up games on Tuesday, March 29. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (PDT) at the WU Softball Field.

Bearcats Earn Victory in Extra Innings

Norcia's at bat in the ninth inning completed a battle in the opener that lasted two hours and 38 minutes. The game was tied at 3-3 from the middle of the fifth inning until Moore scored the winning run.

Moore was the first batter in the bottom of the ninth. She hit a single to right center. Danielle Saunders (So., LF, Salem, OR/McNary HS) was hit by a pitch, and then Alex Shields (Jr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS) flied out to third base.

Victoria Bradshaw (Sr., OF, Discovery Bay, CA/Liberty HS) batted next and was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Kathryn Hammitt (So., DP, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) flied out to shortstop. Norcia was hit by the fifth pitch she faced, forcing in Moore.

The Bearcats plated three runs in the first inning to take the lead. Ashley Pender (Sr., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS), who went 3 for 5 during the game and 4 for 8 on the day, started the inning with a single through the left side, and stole second base. With one out, Saunders grounded out to the pitcher to advance Pender to third.

Shields was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and third. After Shields stole second, Bradshaw connected for an RBI single to left field, allowing Pender to score. Bradshaw went to second on the throw home. Hammitt singled to left, scoring Shields and Bradshaw.

Whitworth earned its first run in the top of the third. With one out, Alyssa Hall bunted a single toward first. After an unsuccessful fielder's choice left runners at first and second, Chelsey Hayes doubled past first base to bring home Hall. Myranda Ramirez was tagged out at third on a fielder's choice. Kelsey Downey flied out to third base to end the inning.

The Pirates tied the game by scoring two runs in the top of the fifth. Runners were at second and third with two outs when a fly ball by Shannon Wessel was dropped by Bradshaw in right field.  Hayes and Ramirez scored on the play.

Reanna Lancaster (Fr., LHP, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS) went to the mound for Willamette in the sixth and pitched the final four innings. She allowed three hits and one walk, while holding the Pirates scoreless.

Willamette left the bases loaded in the seventh and had runners on first and second at the end of the eighth inning. Whitworth left a runner at second in the eighth and again in the ninth.

Pender's three hits led the Bearcats. She also scored a run. Moore was 2 for 3 with a run scored, while Hammitt went 2 for 5 with two RBIs. For Whitworth, Hayes was 3 for 4 with a double, a run and an RBI.

Lancaster improved to 4-1 with the win. Makayla Lefever, who went to the circle with two outs in the eighth inning, took her first loss of the season (10-1) for Whitworth.

Whitworth Wins Pitcher's Duel in Game 2

The second game was a tremendous pitcher's duel between Jade Smith (Jr., RHP, Chico, CA/Chico HS) of Willamette, who also threw the first five innings of the opener, and Lefever of Whitworth.

Both pitchers kept the game at 0-0 until the top of the sixth inning. A single by Hayes in the first inning and a double by Wessel in the second were the only hits in the first five stanzas, with Lefever still holding a no-hitter against the Bearcats.

In the sixth, Hall hit an infield single toward third base. She stole second, and then went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ramirez. Hall scored on a ground out by Hayes. Another grounder ended the inning.

Willamette earned its first hit of the game on a double to left center by Pender with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Lefever prevented Pender from advancing the final two bases by recording back-to-back strikeouts.

The Pirates threatened to extend their lead in the top of the seventh. With one out and Michelle Silva at first base, Downey singled through the left side. One out later, Silva and Downey completed a double-steal. Megan John received a walk, loading the bases. Smith struck out pinch-hitter Kymber Devlin on three pitches to end the inning.

Bradshaw walked with one out in Willamette's last at bat. Hammitt hit into a fielder's choice toward the circle, with Bradshaw thrown out at second base. When Desi Graham threw toward first to complete a double play, the ball went wide of the base and Hammitt moved to second on the error. Promise Burnett (Fr., UT, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) pinch-hit and sent the ball into the outfield, but Hall made the catch in left center.

Lefever upped her record to 11-1. She pitched a one-hitter, while striking out two batters and allowing one walk. Smith, now 5-5, gave up just four hits and two walks. She earned three strikeouts. Smith has lost three games by 1-0 scores. All five of her losses have been by one run.