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March 27, 2010

Linfield Sweeps Softball Twinbill From PLU

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - In a Saturday afternoon battle for first place between the two two teams in the Northwest Conference softball standings, Linfield snatched both ends of a doubleheader from Pacific Lutheran at the Linfield diamond.

The 16th-ranked Wildcats (17-4, 9-1 NWC) turned a tight game in the opener into a rout, winning 10-2 in six innings. The nightcap, in which Linfield scratched out a 4-3 victory, was much more in line with what was expected. PLU (10-5, 8-2 NWC) saw its eight-game winning streak snapped.

In the opener, Claire Velaski tossed a three-hitter, fanning eight Lutes on the way to her sixth pitching victory of the season. Velaski and PLU starter Ramona Lorton matched four shutout innings before the Wildcats exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning, including aa three-run homer from Emily Keagbine.

The Lutes fought back in the top of the sixth. Stacey Hagensen’s triple drove home Caitlin Brown from first base. Another run-scoring single by Beth Haahr cut the PLU deficit to 7-2. Linfield came right back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game on the eigth-run rule.

Lepp went 3-for-4 to pace the ‘Cats at the plate. Doucette, Keagbine and Baxter each had two hits as the Wildcats logged 12 hits in the scorebook. Lorton took the loss, her first against four victories this season.

Lepp’s RBI single in the fourth inning proved to be the difference in the second game, though the outcome remained in question until the final out.

Linfield built a 3-0 lead after three innings, with Karleigh Prestianni hammering her eighth home run of the season to score two of the runs.

PLU plated a run in the fourth when Kaaren Hatlen doubled down the right-field line and then scored on a single by Lauren Watson.

Linfield pushed across the winning run in the fourth when Lepp drove in Kayla Hubrick, who led off with a double.

PLU made the game interesting in the final two innings. Brown and Hatlen took turns driving in runs with singles to draw the Lutes within one run. The Lutes had the tying run in scoring position in the seventh, but Glenelle Nitta popped out to Friend in right field, clinching the doubleheader sweep for the Wildcats.

Wildcats pitcher Lauren Harvey gave up nine hits and struck out just two batters, but the sophomore righthander weathered the storm, holding the Lutes without a run in a bases-loaded situation in the sixth.

Monti Califano went 3-for-3 for the Lutes and Hatlen and Watson each had two hits for PLU.

Pacific Lutheran returns to Northwest Conference action tomorrow when it plays the host Pacific Boxers in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The game time has been moved back from noon because of expected early Sunday morning showers.

(Courtesy of Linfield Sports Information Office.)