By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Four pitchers for Linfield College -- two in each game -- combined to hold Willamette University to a total of seven hits, as the Wildcats were victorious in both games of a doubleheader, 12-1 and 8-0. on Sunday March 31 at WU Softball Field. The Wildcats, who are ranked #15 in this week's NCAA Division III Top 25 Poll released by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), won both games on the run rule in five innings.
Linfield improved to 22-4-1 overall, 15-1 in the Northwest Conference. The Wildcats lead the NWC standings by one-half game over Whitworth University (14-1). Willamette slipped to 3-24 on the season, 2-14 in the NWC.
In the first game, Darian Stedman and Paige Smotherman each hit a homer for Linfield, while Payten Healy (Fr., SS, Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS) smacked her first college homer for Willamette. In the second game, Katie Phillips of Linfield blasted a homer.
Healy Belts Homer in Opener, but Linfield Throws a 4-Hitter
In the first game, Linfield pitchers Shelby Saylors and Eliza Rossman combined on a four-hitter. Saylors threw the first three innings and amassed seven strikeouts with no walks. She gave up three of the four hits as well as Willamette's only run. Rossman allowed only one hit and one walk in two innings.
Linfeld's offense scored one run in the first inning, and surged away with seven runs in the top of the third. After adding four runs in the fifth, the Wildcats had 15 hits in the game.
Maddy Colson and Phillips started the game with singles, leaving runners at first and third. Colson ran across the plate on a sacrifice fly by Kelsey Wilkinson. The Linfield half of the third included six hits by the Wildcats. Key hits driving in the first five scores were a two-run double by Makenna Clizer, a one-run double by Abi Proffitt, and a two-run homer by Smotherman.
Healy blasted a solo home run to center field with one out in the bottom of the third inning. The freshman infielder now has four extra-base hits on the season, including the homer, two doubles and a triple.
In the fifth inning, the Wildcats plated four runs. Colson singled down the left field line and advanced to second. She scored on a double by Phillips. The other three runs scored on a homer by Stedman.
Phllips was 3 for 3 at the plate for Linfield with two runs and two RBIs. Earning two hits for the Wildcats were Colson, Stedman, Proffitt and Smotherman. For Willamette, Healy was 1 for 1 with a homer and a walk.
Benson and Podnar Hold Bearcats to 3 Hits in Game 2
Tanna Benson and Maddy Podnar went to the circle for Linfield in the second game. Benson tossed the first four innings and allowed all three of Willamette's hits, but did not give up a run. She had three strikeouts and one walk. Podnar threw a scoreless and hitless fifth inning to close out the run-rule win.
Linfield took control with seven runs in the second inning. The Wildcats scored the runs on six hits, plus a walk and a hit batsman. Chelsea Horita earned a two-run double and Phillips drove in two runs with a homer. Stedman and Clizer each added an RBI double during the inning, while Smotherman hit an RBI single. Proffitt tacked on an RBI double in the fourth.
Kelsey Wong (Fr., UT, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) hit a single for Willamette with one out in the fourth inning, but was later thrown out attempting to steal second base. Danielle Koontz (So., OF, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) also earned a base hit for the Bearcats in the fourth inning.
Earlier, Koontz sent a single into right field to start the bottom of the second. She stole second base. Later in the inning, Koontz was thrown out attempting to steal third base.
A total of four Linfield players earned two hits in the second game. They were Phillips, Stedman, Clizer and Smotherman.
Up Next for the Bearcats
Willamette will play four games at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, next weekend. The teams will play doubleheaders on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. (PDT).
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Payten Healy earned her first career home run for
the Bearcats in the third inning of the first game
on Sunday. She smacked the ball over the center
field fence. During the game, she was 1 for 1 and
also received a walk.