McMINNVILLE, Ore. – One just minutes after suffering only her second pitching loss of the season, Madi Perez came back to throw a complete-game victory and lead visiting Whitworth to a Northwest Conference softball split at 16th-ranked Linfield on Friday evening. Linfield won the opener 5-0 but the Pirates took the nightcap 4-1 to move within one win of a third straight outright NWC title.
The Bucs are 31-7 overall and 22-4 in the NWC and have clinched at least a tie for the 2017 NWC title. Linfield is 31-7, 20-6 and needs to sweep Saturday's doubleheader to share the conference crown with Whitworth and earn the right to host the NWC tournament, based on a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Saturday's doubleheader will begin at noon.
Game 1 – Linfield 5, Whitworth 0
Shelby Saylors threw a complete-game shutout while Kenzie Schmoll drove in three runs and Danielle Duman went 3-3 at the plate to lead the Wildcats to a win in the opener.
Duman singled in Linfield's first run during a two-run rally in the second inning off of Perez. Kenzie Schmoll added a run-scoring single.
The Wildcats added three runs off of Megan Truesdale in the sixth inning. Schmoll's two-run double drove in the first two and Alissa Buss plated the third run.
Whitworth struggled to string together hits against Saylors. The Pirates loaded the bases with only one out in the top of the sixth inning. But Saylors worked out of the jam with a pop up and a fly out.
Saylors improved to 15-3 with her six-hitter. She struck out six and walked none. Perez tossed the first four innings and fell to 18-2 after allowing two runs on six hits. She struck out four and walked none.
Kinsey McNaught was the only Pirate with more than one hit in the game.
Game 2 – Whitworth 4, Linfield 1
Perez won her 19th game of the year by scattering nine hits in the complete-game effort.
Linfield pulled within 2-1 in the fourth inning after Buss led off with a single and eventually scored on Erin Kinney's fielder's choice.
Perez induced Kinney to ground out with a pair of runners on base in the sixth inning. Perez also allowed a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the seventh before she got leadoff hitter Jacinda Swiger to ground out to end the game.
Perez (19-2) struck out three batters and walked one while tossing her NWC-leading 15th complete game of the season. Brooke Chapman (11-3) started for Linfield and allowed four runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings.