Willamette Splits Doubleheader with George Fox by taking Second Game, 7-2

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

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director

NEWBERG, Ore. -- After giving up a five-run lead and eventually losing to George Fox University in the first game of a doubleheader, the Willamette University Bearcats took a 3-2 advantage in the second game and continued to pull away for a 7-2 win on Saturday, April 9 at the Morse Athletic Fields. In Willamette's victory, Ashley Pender (Sr., 2B, Reno, NV/North Valleys HS) smacked two home runs and Kathryn Hammitt (So., OF, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) belted one homer.

GFU trailed 7-2 in the first game, but scored five unearned runs in the sixth inning to tie the score. The Bruins won the game on a two-run homer by Annie Veatch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

By splitting the doubleheader, Willamette ended the day at 14-13 on the season, including 10-12 in the Northwest Conference. George Fox moved to 22-12 overall, 12-10 in the NWC.

Big Rally Helps George Fox in Game 1

Willamette took a 2-0 lead in the opener on a two-run homer by Alex Shields (Jr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS) with two outs in the first inning. Danielle Saunders (So., LF, Salem, OR/McNary HS), who was hit by a pitch with one out, also scored on the play.

GFU left runners at second and third in the second inning, after Amanda Woods reached base on an error and Courtney Howard doubled to right center with one out. WU pitcher Jade Smith (Jr., RHP, Chico, CA/Chico HS) got Ashley Bunce to line out to shortstop and forced Alex Parker into a ground out to end the inning.

Willamette extended its lead to 4-0 with a run in the third and another run in the fourth. In the third, Dunn was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a single to center by Mallory Asaro (Jr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS).

In the fourth, Carrie Fox (So., OF, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS) reached first on a fielder's choice and later crossed the plate when Saunders went to first on an error with two outs. WU left two runners on base in the third and left the bases loaded in the fourth.

The Bruins cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer by Veatch. Willamette countered with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth. Shields tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth. The sixth inning featured an RBI single by Saunders, who later scored on an error.

Woods singled to start the GFU half of the sixth. Veatch batted next and struck out. Howard fouled out toward first base. Bunce went to first on a throwing error from third base to keep the inning alive. Four hits later, including a two-RBI double by Rebecca Pridmore and a two-run single by Kimi Ito, and the Bruins were within 7-6. Kayla Anderson singled to drive in Ito with the tying run.

The score remained tied until Veatch hit her second homer of the game with Anderson at first base and two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

Veatch went 2 for 5 during the game with two runs and four RBIs. Pridmore was 2 for 4 with a run and a pair of RBIs. Ito finished 2 for 5, scored once and earned two RBIs. For Willamette, Shields was 3 for 4 with a single, a triple and a home run, plus two runs scored and an RBI.

Madison Sorenson, who pitched the final two innings for the Bruins, struck out four batters and allowed one walk. She improved to 9-3. Smith, who left the game after 5 1/2 innings, returned in the eighth inning, and fell to 5-9 with the loss.

Three Homers Lead Bearcats to Win in Game 2

Home runs provided five of Willamette's seven runs in the second game, as the Bearcats put together a solid overall effort.

WU again took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, this time on the first of Pender's two home runs. Kathryn Moore (So., 3B, Reno, NV/Robert McQueen HS), who singled to begin the game, also scored on the play. GFU tied the score in the bottom of the inning, as Ito belted a leadoff triple and crossed home plate on a sacrifice fly, while Woods hit a solo homer with two outs.

Kathryn Hammitt (So., OF, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) The Bearats moved in front 3-2 in the top of the third. Saunders was hit by a pitch to begin the frame. She was still at first with two outs, but she went to third on a ground out to second by Shields, and scored when  he play ended with a throwing error by the pitcher.

For the second time in the game, Moore singled to start an inning when the Bearcats went to the plate in the fifth. She was at first one out later when Pender blasted her second two-run homer. With two outs, Asaro doubled to left center, but was left on base when the inning ended.

Hammitt increased Willamette's margin to 6-2 with a leadoff home run to left center in the sixth. Alexia Pratt (Jr., OF, Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) singled and went all the way to third when the ball was thrown wildly by the second baseman. Two outs later, Pratt stole home.

Starting pitcher Reanna Lancaster (Fr., LHP, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS) of Willamette threw the first six innings and limited the Bruins to five hits. She registered four strikeouts and did not allow a walk. Lancaster's record improved to 7-2. Smith pitched a scoreless sixth inning and did not allow a hit. Sorenseon slipped to 9-4 for GFU after allowing five runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings.

Pender was 2 for 3 with two runs and four RBIs. Moore went 2 for 4 and scored twice. Pratt was 2 for 3. The Bruins received a 2-for-3 performance from Anderson. Willamette outhit GFU 9-5 during the game.

The teams will complete the four-game NWC series with a doubleheader on Sunday, April 10. First pitch in set for 12 p.m. (PDT).