by Brandon Loiler, Sports Information Assistant
HERMISTON, Ore. - The Pirates and Bearcats split day two of Northwest Conference softball action in Hermiston, Ore. with Whitworth taking game one, scoring seven unanswered runs in the first three innings.
The Pirates improve to 12-4 (3-1) in the NWC after the weekend and the Bearcats sit at 2-5 (2-3 NWC).
Game One: Whitworth 9, Willamette 4
Madi Perez sat down the first three batters in the top of the first inning with two strikeouts and a pop out to left field. Shannon Wessel opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with a two RBI home run to left field that scored Kinsey McNaught to go up 2-0.
The Pirates retired the next three Bearcat batters in the second inning on a pop out, groundout, and strikeout. In the bottom of the inning, Whitworth's Maria Smith came in to pinch run for Perez who singled down the right field line and advanced to second and third on a fielding error and a sacrifice bunt by Allie Rude. Rheanne Lewis stepped up and hit a sac fly to score Smith for a 3-0 lead.
Two singles from McNaught and Wessel and a hit by pitch putting Michelle Silva on first loaded the bases for Tessa Matthews who singled on the next at bat, scoring McNaught and Wessel. Silva tried to steal home and was caught at the plate, but Perez doubled on the next at bat, scoring Matthews for a 6-0 Pirate lead.
Whitworth retired three straight batters in the top of the fourth and in the bottom of the inning, Wessel launched her second home run to left field to go up 7-0.
Willamette gained some momentum in the top of the fifth with back-to-back batters hitting home runs to left field on Megan Truesdale who came in for Perez to start the inning. Perez reentered the game and forced two groundouts on the next at bats. Miki Takara walked and advanced to third on a single from Taiana Creekmur, putting two runners in scoring position for the Bearcats. Alex Shields doubled down the left field line scoring both Takara and Shields to cut Whitworth's lead to three, 7-4.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Matthews stretched the lead back to five on a two RBI double down the line, scoring Silva (singled) and Ramirez (walked).
The Pirates sealed game one in the top of the seventh with Takara and Payton Reynolds grounding out and Creekmur being thrown out at second on a fielder's choice.
Matthews went 2-3 with four RBIs to lead the Pirates and Wessel went 3-4, hitting two home runs for three RBIs and scoring three times. For the Bearcats, Creekmur went 2-2 and scored once and Gibson went 2-3 with a home run.
Perez improved to 8-0 on the season, recording four strikeouts and giving up five hits. Sofia Magnani gets the loss to move to 0-1 after only pitching one inning, but giving up three runs, one home run and a walk.
Game Two: Willamette 10, Whitworth 6
Gibson kicked off game two with a home run to center field on the first at bat of the game. Shields got on with a double and Whitworth's Ashley Trueblood came in to pitch for Sarah Ballinger. On the next at bat, Creekmur sent a two run bomb to center field for a 3-0 Bearcat lead.
In the top of the second, Steffany Dunn launched Willamette's third home run of the game over the left field fence to go up 4-0 and then Alex Shield scored Takara on a double to left field with two outs.
The Pirates finally got on the board in the bottom of the third when Silva singled, scoring Ramirez who reached on a fielding error. Perez hit a sacrifice fly to score Logan Miller and with the bases loaded, Natalie Edlin was walked, scoring Silva to cut Willamette's lead to one, 4-3.
In the top of the fifth, another Takara single scored Kea Gier, but The Pirates responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, scoring Silva on a fielding error.
Takara earned her third RBI of the game, singling through the left side, scoring Dunn and Gibson hit her second home run of the day over the left field fence scoring Takara to go up 10-4. Whitworth attempted a comeback when Perez doubled to left field, scoring silva. With two on and one out, Rude singled to second base and scored Perez, but the Bearcats stopped Whitworth's sweep with a double play to seal the game.
Downey, Perez, and Silva added two hits apiece for the Pirates and combined for three RBIs. Willamette's Gibson went 3-5, batting in three and hitting two home runs and Creekmur added another home run and two RBIs.
Ballinger (2-1) gets her first loss of the season after giving up the go ahead scores in the top of the first inning. Jade Smith improves to 2-3 for Willamette, pitching all seven innings and giving up 10 hits.
Next Up: Whitworth will host its home opener against Lewis & Clark on Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11 at Marks Field. Games will begin at 12:00 p.m. both days.