by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates secured third place in the Northwest Conference with a pair of eight-run wins over the Willamette Bearcats in Tuesday's Northwest Conference softball doubleheader.
In addition to sowing up third place with the wins, the Bucs moved to 24-16 on the year and 17-11 in the NWC. The Bearcats fell to 5-28 overall and 5-21 in conference play.
Game 1: Whitworth 13, Willamette 5 (5 innings)
The Pirates broke out the bats to clinch third place in the Northwest Conference with a win in the opener.
A seven-run second inning paced the Pirates, who scored ten or more runs in a game for the sixth time this season. Allie Rude's two-RBI single and Sara Gayer's three-run double to left-center field did most of the damage for the Bucs in the frame.
After the Bearcats scored a pair of runs in the third, the Bucs essentially put the game away in the fourth. After Whitworth loaded the bases on a bloop single from Gayer, Kelsey Downey took a low fastball out to dead-center field for a grand slam. The slam was Downey's second in her Pirate career.
Willamette narrowly avoided a mercy-rule loss initially by scoring one run in the top of the fifth inning, but the Bucs finished off the ballgame win a run in the bottom of the frame. Desi Graham lead off the fifth with a triple, and Michelle Silva finished the game with a three-base hit of her own, giving the Pirates a 13-5 win.
Madelyn Carlson (16-7) battled through the wind to earn a win in a complete game effort. Reanna Lancaster (1-7) was hit with the loss for Willamette.
Game 2: Whitworth 10, Willamette 2
The second game was a much lower-scoring affair until Whitworth blew it open with an eight-run fifth inning to sweep the Bearcats
The Bucs got on the board first when Gayer's groundout to shortstop scored Kaylie Lowery from third. They weren't able to drive in Kinsey McNaught from second, however, as a strikeout and pop up ended the threat.
The Bearcats took the lead for a moment in the third inning. After Breianna Mcleod tied the game in the second with a home run, Danielle Koontz tripled in the third inning to give Willamette a 2-1 lead.
The Bucs rallied back, tying the game in the fourth on Morgan Portlock's sacrifice bunt before exploding for an eight-spot in the fifth inning.
With the game tied at 2, Gayer drove a two-RBI single up the middle to kick-start the rally. Downey followed Gayer by nearly blasting her second homer of the day out to left field. Instead, the ball hit a foot from the top of the wall and Downey coasted into second with a double.
After Portlock singled home Downey, Natalie Edlin provided what was perhaps the highlight of the inning with a home run to left field. Edlin's two-run blast soared over the scoreboard in right-center field and put the Pirates up 8-2. Graham added another run with a single, and Gayer finished the game by walking with the bases loaded.
Ashley Trueblood earned the win and moved to 7-6 on the year with a complete game effort. Bailey Hillmick (0-4) was hit with the loss for the Bearcats.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates travel to the Northwest Conference Tournament, which is hosted by George Fox. Whitworth opens the weekend by taking on second-seeded Linfield at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 20.