Willamette and Pacific Each Rally, as Bearcats Triumph 8-6 and Boxers Win 4-3

Bailey Hillmick (Fr., DP/UT, Athena, OR/Weston-McEween HS)
Bailey Hillmick (Fr., DP/UT, Athena, OR/Weston-McEween HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University and Pacific University each trailed by multiple runs in one game of a Northwest Conference doubleheader on Monday, March 19 before rallying for a win at the WU Softball Field. The Bearcats fell behind 6-2 in the first game before battling back with four runs in the fifth inning and two runs in the sixth on their way to an 8-6 victory. In the second game, Pacific trailed 3-0 after six innings, but scored four runs in the top of the seventh and went on to win 4-3.

The doubleheader was originally scheduled to be played on Feb. 25, but it was postponed due to the weather and was rescheduled for Monday.  Pacific ended the day with a 12-8 record, 6-6 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette moved to 3-12 overall, 3-9 in the NWC.

"I loved seeing how the team bounced back from the weekend (four losses at Linfield). This team is very resilient," Willamette Head Coach Damian Williams said.

Up next for the Bearcats is an NWC doubleheader at Whitworth University on Saturday, March 24 in Spokane, Washington. First ptich is slated to start at 12 p.m. (PDT).

Bearcats Overcome 6-2 Deficit with Strong Finish in First Game

Willamette took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the first game. With one out, Vanessa Almaraz (So., OF, Simi Valley, CA/Simi Valley HS) hit an infield single toward third. Almaraz moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a ground out to the circle by Kea Gier (So., 3B, Kaneohe, HI/Iolani School). Breianna Mcleod (Fr., SS/UT, Kailua Kona, HI/West Hawaii Explorations Acad.) drove in Almaraz with a single to right.

The Boxers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the third. After two ground outs, Becca Bernard reached base on fielding error at second. An infield single by Nicole Martinez and a walk issued to Jill Uyeda loaded the bases. Katelyn Macaitis-Smith singled through the left side to bring home Bernard and Martinez. WU tied the scored at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning when Danielle Koontz (Fr., 2B, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) hit a leadoff double, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out by Hillmick.

Pacific tallied three runs in the fourth and added one run in the fifth for a 6-2 advantage. In the fourth, the Boxers earned one hit -- an RBI single by Montana Vaught -- but also benefited from three errors that led to two unearned runs. In the fifth, Macaitis-Smith started the inning with a single and scored three batters later on a single by Haley Kodama.

Willamette's rally began with four runs in the fifth stanza to tie the score. Jocelyn Glasgo (So., P/OF, Rochester, WA/Tumwater HS) singled with one out and Almaraz was hit by a pitch with two outs. Each runner moved up a base on a wild pitch, and then Gier walked. Mcleod drove in the first two runs with a single to center and went to second on the throw. Emily Bishop (Jr., OF, Maple Valley, WA/Tahoma HS/Pierce College) added a single through the left side to bring in the final two runs of the inning.

The Bearcats tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take an 8-6 lead. Koontz hit into a fielding error by the second baseman to start the inning. Hillmick put Willamette in front with a triple to right field that allowed Koontz to score all the way from first. Olivia Scott (So., C, San Francisco, CA/Lowell HS) pinch-ran for Hillmick and scored on a sacrifice fly to left center by Sofia Magnani (So., P/OF, Belmont, CANotre Dame HS).

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Trisha Snydar was hit by a pitch. Willamette reliever, Morgan Penn (So., P/1B, Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS), who entered the game in the sixth inning, forced Kodama to fly out to right and then struck out Vaught to end the game.

Penn moved to 1-0 with the win, while Pacific starter Ashley Martin dropped to 4-2. Penn allowed just one hit and one it batsman in two innings. She recorded one strikeout.

Mcleod was 3 of 3 for the Bearcats with three RBIs. Bishop went 2 of 3 and drove in two runs. Hillmick provided the game-winning triple and earned two RBIs. Koontz hit a double and scored two runs, including the go-ahead run in the sixth.

Boxers Trail 3-0 before Rallying in Seventh Inning for 4-3 Win

Neither team scored in the first three and a half innings of the second game. Maya Shipway (So., 1B, Bothell, WA/The Bear Creek School) of Willamette gave the Bearcats a 1-0 lead by smacking a solo home run to straight-away center as the first batter in the bottom of the fourth. Hillmick increased Willamette's margin to 3-0 when she blasted a two-run homer to right field in the fifth inning. Koontz, who walked to start the bottom of the fifth, also scored on the play.

Willamette starting pitcher Reanna Lancaster (Jr., P, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS) kept Pacific off the scoreboard in the first six innings, while allowing just three hits. In the seventh, Kodama batted first and was hit by a pitch. Vaught singled to left field. Kaitlynn Donaca bunted and beat out a close play at first to load the bases. Morgan Masters pinch-hit and sent a low line drive into left field. The sun, which was very low on the western horizon, interfered with Magnani's vision. The ball landed in front of Magnani and bounced for a double. All three runners scored to tie the game.

Kiana Kushiyama re-entered the game for Morgan and went to third on a ground out by Martinez. Kushiyama scored when pinch-hitter Taylor Nishimura hit a sacrifice fly to left field, giving Pacific a 4-3 lead. Koontz singled for the Bearcats with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but a strikeout and ground out ended the game.

Lancaster was credited with giving up the first three runs in the seventh. Hillmick, who entered the game with the bases loaded, took the loss and moved to 0-2 on the season. Pacific relief pitcher Emily Gaines went to 1-2 with the win. She allowed one hit and registered one strikeout in three innings pitched.

Masters led all players with her three RBIs. Donaca was 2 for 3 with a run scored. Macaitis-Smith went 2 for 4 with a double. For Willamette, the home runs by Shipway and Hillmick led the offense. Shipway hit a homer for the second day in a row, after blasting the first home run of her career at Linfield College on Saturday. Hillmick's home run was the freshman's first home run for the Bearcats.