Bearcats Fall to 8th-Ranked Linfield, 7-0, and 10-4, in NWC Softball

Mallory Asaro (Sr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS)
Mallory Asaro (Sr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University dropped both games of a Northwest Conference doubleheader to nationally-ranked Linfield College, 7-0 and 10-4, on Wednesday, April 5 at WU Softball Field. Linfield, ranked #8 in the NCAA Division III Top 25 Poll released by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), improved to 24-6 overall and to 13-5 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 11-13 on the season, 9-9 in the NWC.

The doubleheader was originally scheduled for March 4, but was postponed due to the weather.

Linfield scored two unearned runs in the first inning and hit two home runs in the third inning of the first game. Shelby Saylors threw a complete-game, four-hitter for the Wildcats. Saylors earned six strikeouts and allowed one walk, while advancing her record to 11-3 on the season.

In the second game, Linfield held a close 6-4 lead after WU scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Wildcats plated four runs in the top of the sixth.

Saylors Tosses Four-Hitter for Linfield in Opener

The four-hitter thrown by Saylors in the first game kept Willamette from gaining any momentum. Linfield led 6-0 after three innings and tacked on one run in the seventh.

Alissa Buss of Linfield reached base as the game's first batter when she hit into an error at second. Later, she was at third base with two outs, and scored on a double to center field by Erin Kinney. Darian Stedman reached base on an error at first, sending pinch-runner Jessica Woodruff to third. Woodruff crossed the plate on an infield single by Emily Allen.

Kinney and Stedman hit back-to-back doubles to open the third inning and create the third run of the game. Allen batted next and blasted a two-run homer to left center. One out later, Danielle Duman powered a solo homer over the left field fence.

The Bearcats prevented the Wildcats from scoring again until the top of the seventh. Kenzie Schmoll tripled to left center to start the inning. Duman walked on a full-count wild pitch that allowed Schmoll to score.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Mallory Asaro (Sr., SS, Rocklin, CA/Rocklin HS) picked up Willamette's fourth hit of the game. She was left on base after Saylors registered consecutive strikeouts to end the game.

Kinney went 3 of 4 with a run and an RBI for Linfield. Allen was 2 for 3 with a homer and a trio of RBIs. Duman finished 2 for 2 with a home run and two walks.

In addition to Asaro, other Bearcats with a hit were Alex Shields (Sr., C, Lake Forest, CA/El Toro HS), Darian Gibson (So., LF, Newport Beach, CA/Calvary HS)  and Kea Gier (Fr., 3B, Kaneohe, HI/Iolani School).

Reanna Lancaster (So., P, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS) pitched 3 2/3 innings of middle relief for the Bearcats and gave up just one run on three hits. Jocelyn Glasgo (Fr., P/OF, Rochester, WA/Tumwater HS) entered the circle three batters into the seventh inning and did not allow a run or a hit, while achieving two strikeouts.

Two Big Innings Send Linfield to 10-4 Win in Game 2

Five runs in the third inning gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. Later, Linfield scored four runs in the sixth inning to take control after the Bearcats pulled within 6-4.

A leadoff single by Miki Takara (Fr., 2B, Pearl City, HI/Maryknoll HS) and a one-out single by Asaro put Willamette runners at first and second in the first inning. A ground out advanced the runners, but Linfield starter Brooke Chapman caused Payton Reynolds (Fr., UT, Reno, NV/Reno HS) to foul out to end the threat.

Duman smacked her second home run of the game and sixth homer of the season to give Linfield a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Wildcats tacked on five runs on five hits and two errors in the third inning. All five hits were singles, including four base hits that each drove in one run.

Shields was hit by a pitch to begin the WU half of the second inning. Promise Burnett (So., C, Oakland, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) ran for Shields, and scored when Asaro doubled to left. Asaro was picked off at second base before Taiana Creekmur (Fr., C, Honolulu, HI/St. Francis HS) walked. A fielding error after a flyout allowed Creekmur to reach second. She scored on a double by Steffany Dunn (Sr., RF, Colfax, CA/Colfax HS).

Willamette scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to cut Linfield's lead to two runs. Creekmur and Reynolds walked with one out. Gier pounded an RBI double with two outs to drive in Creekmur. Vanessa Almaraz (Fr., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS) walked to load the bases. Reynodls scored when Gibson walked.

The Wildcats pulled away with four runs on four hits in the sixth inning. Fletcher provided an RBI double, Kinney recorded a two-run single, and Stedman brought home the final run with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Chapman improved to 9-2 with the win for Linfield. Tanna Benson, who allowed no hits and no runs in final 2 1/3 innings, received her second save. For WU, starter Makayla Hari (Sr., P, Salem, OR/Blanchet Catholic HS) took the loss.

Kinney went 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs for the Wildcats. Overall, Linfield outhit the Bearcats 13-7 during the game. Takara, Asaro and Dunn each went 2 of 4 for Willamette.

Up Next for Willamette

The Bearcats will host George Fox University in NWC doubleheaders on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9 at WU Softball Field. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. (PDT) each day.