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April 21, 2012

Lutes Win Twice, Advance to NWC Softball Title Game

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Pacific Lutheran won twice on Saturday, including its third win this season against No. 1-ranked Linfield, to advance to the Northwest Conference Softball Tournament title game on Sunday afternoon.

Senior pitcher Stacey Hagensen improved her season record to 19-5 in a 3-1 opening-round win over Willamette, and she picked up her fourth save of the season in the Lutes' 3-1 victory over Linfield in a winner's bracket contest played this evening.

Game 1 - PLU 3, Willamette 1

The Lutes will face the winner of Sunday morning's loser-out game between Linfield and Willamette, and they need one win to claim the conference postseason tournament title and with it an automatic berth in the Division III national tournament.

Hagensen was impressive in shutting down the Willamette offense to an unearned run on just two hits. While Hagensen didn't strike out a batter, she increased to 45 the number of consecutive innings that she has not walked a batter.

Willamette scored its run on a hit and Hagensen's error in the first inning before the Lutes tied the game in the bottom of the third on two hits and a Bearcats miscue. Amanda Goings led off with a single and reached second when Haley Harshaw reached on the error. After Hagensen advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, Kaaren Hatlen hit a run-scoring single.

Pacific Lutheran scored twice in the fourth on four hits, with Goings driving in the first tally following hits by Lindsey Matsunaga and Montessa Califano. Hagensen drove in the final run with a base hit.

Hagensen then went to work, retiring the side in order in the final three innings.

Goings was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI and Matsunaga had two hits to lead Pacific Lutheran's 10-hit attack.

Game 2 - PLU 3, Linfield 1

Kaaren Hatlen beat the nation's top-ranked team for the second time this season, limiting the Wildcats to just one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Hagensen entered the game with a runner on second base and two out in the sixth inning and retired the last four batters to send the Lutes to the NWC title game.

All of PLU's runs were unearned as the Linfield defense committed four errors. The first tally came in the second inning on a two-out error following base hits by Katie Lowery and Amanda Hall. The other two runs scored in the sixth on two hits and two errors, both by pitcher Karina Pavola.

Lowery, who started the first rally with a one-out single, led off the top of the sixth with a double, and she moved to third on Hall's sacrifice bunt. When Paavola tried to get Lowery at third on a comebacker by Matsunaga, Lowery dove back safely while Matsunaga reached second base on Paavola's errant throw. Glenelle Nitta put down a bunt only to see Paavola miss fielding the ball which rolled out toward second base, allowing both Lowery and Matsunaga to score.

Linfield got its only run in the bottom of the sixth on Emilee Lepp's 12th homer of the year, but that was it for the Wildcats, who managed just three hits.

Lowery had two of PLU's seven hits and she scored two runs.

Now the Lutes wait until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow when they play the winner of the 11 a.m. game for the conference tournament title and a berth in the national tournament.

- PLU -