By John Tveter, sports writer
The Lutes looked to start off their season, as well as the tenure of first-year head coach Erin Brooks, with a step in the right direction. Making the drive down to Portland to compete in the Northwest Cup, the Lutes’ first opponents were the Coyotes from the College of Idaho. Pacific Lutheran University eked out an 8-7 win.
Entering the fifth inning, the Lutes faced a 5-4 deficit. But a two out rally sparked by hits from first-year Emily McConnell, senior Spencer Sherwin and senior Lindsey Matsunaga helped the Lutes take a 6-5 lead.
After the Lutes added two insurance runs in the sixth inning to extend their lead to 8-5, starting pitcher Kelsey Robinson, a junior, headed back out to the mound. Robinson attempted to pitch a complete game and clinch the win for the Lutes.
The College of Idaho refused to go quietly, grinding out two runs and cutting the lead to one. But with two outs in the ninth inning, Robinson forced a groundout to give the Lutes their first win of the season.
After starting off the season with a win, the Lutes’ second game for Saturday was rained out. This forced PLU to prepare for a triple header Sunday.
The Lutes headed back to the diamond the next day to take on the Beacons of Northwest Christian, looking for a 2-0 start. Instead, the Lutes were the victims of a 10-5 loss.
The Lutes started hot, taking a quick lead by scoring three times in the opening inning. They held their 3-0 lead for two innings, but in the third, the Beacons bats heated up.
They seemingly chased Lutes starting pitcher Kelli Crawford, a sophomore, from the game after they had scored six runs. Junior Leah Butters replaced Crawford and slowed the Beacons down, but the damage had already been done.
The Lutes attempted to come back by adding two runs in the fifth inning, but the Beacons tacked on another run in the fourth inning, two more in the fifth and one more in the sixth to win convincingly.
In Pacific Lutheran University’s third game of the Northwest Cup, the team squared off against Oregon Tech, losing 10-4. The game was a back and forth affair, with Oregon Tech taking an early 1-0 lead.
The Lutes quickly struck back however, taking a 2-1 lead. After an exchange of runs for each team, Oregon Tech scored in the sixth inning, and took a slim 4-3 lead into the final frame.
Junior Kelsey Robinson, the winning pitcher from Saturday’s game against Northwest Christian, was on the mound. After a complete game the day before, she had pitched well for six innings, but the Oregon Tech bats caught fire in the top of the seventh inning.
They managed to push across six runs, extending Oregon Tech’s lead to 10-3. The Lutes fought back in the bottom of the seventh, but were only able to score one run in the lopsided loss.
In the final game of the weekend, the Lutes took on the host Cavaliers of Concordia University from Portland.
Looking to end the weekend on a high note, junior Leah Butters took the mound for PLU and got the Lutes off to a strong start with three straight 1-2-3 innings. That wouldn’t be enough though, as the Cavaliers went on to win 9-1.
With the game tied at 1-1, things unraveled for the Lutes in the fifth inning when the Cavaliers managed to score five runs on three PLU errors. The Lutes were unable to mount any offensive comeback, and Concordia tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh to close out its win over the Lutes.
Butters threw a complete game for the Lutes, surrendering only three earned runs and striking out three.
The Lutes (1-3, 0-0) return to action with a pair of Northwest Conference double-headers next weekend at home. PLU will take on Pacific at noon and 2 p.m. Feb. 22. Afterward, the Lutes will face George Fox at noon and 2 p.m. Feb. 23. 🅼