By Nick Barene
In a pair of games against 5th ranked Linfield this past weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University softball team managed a 7-5 win in the first game and a 5-2 loss in the second.
In the first game, the Lutes trailed 2-1 until the fourth inning when they exploded with a five run rally. With two outs and the bases loaded, first-year Emily McConnell slapped a single that brought in the tying run.
Next up to bat was senior Spencer Sherwin, who smacked a double to right center field that scored three runs. The next batter, fellow senior Lindsey Matsunaga, reached base on a fielder’s choice and Sherwin was able to score on a throwing error on the play.
Both McConnell and Sherwin were able to handle being up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded, a high pressure situation. Neither batter let the moment get too big for them, and they came through with clutch at-bats for the Lutes.
“I fully immerse myself in the task at hand, because that’s really all I have control over in that moment,” Sherwin said.
Linfield scored two runs in the sixth inning to draw within two, but weren’t able to capitalize any further.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning, senior Katie Lowery earned an RBI on a fielder’s choice to bring the Lute’s run total to 7. The visiting Wildcats scored a run in the seventh inning, but pitcher Kelsey Robinson, a junior, recorded the save for the Lutes.
Starter Leah Butters, a junior, earned her fourth win of the season while giving up three earned runs on eight hits with one strikeout and two walks.
The second game began with both teams hitting home runs in the first inning, with senior Spencer Sherwin going yard for the Lutes. Linfield also scored a run on a bases loaded walk in the second inning, and the score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the fifth inning.
Junior Kelsey Robinson earned an RBI on a groundout to tie the game. But in the seventh inning the Wildcats put up three runs, and recorded the final outs to win the game.
Robinson, who started the game on the mound after earning the save in the previous game, took the loss. She pitched 6.1 innings and gave up four earned runs on 11 hits with two strikeouts and five walks. She also had a solid pair of games at the plate, going 4-7 with an RBI.
The Lutes struggled to find their groove offensively in the game, stranding 10 runners on base over the course of the contest.
Despite losing the second game, the team felt good about the way they played.
“Linfield has consistently been our toughest competition the four years our seniors have been here, so beating them definitely confirmed that our team has a lot of talent,” said Sherwin. “This year has been all about figuring out who we are as a team and these past couple of weeks I think we have made some great strides.”
PLU moves to 8-18 overall and 5-9 in Northwest Conference play. Linfield is now 22-6 overall and 16-2 in NWC play. The Lutes will take on George Fox April 4-6.