by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Cheyenne Fletcher hit two home runs to lead the Linfield Wildcats to a sweep of the Whitworth Pirates in a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates drop to 17-8 overall and 10-8 in the NWC with the losses, while the Wildcats are now 25-7 overall and 17-3 in conference play.
Fletcher finished the day 4-6 with 4 RBIs and 5 runs scored. Kaylie Lowery led Whitworth at the plate, going 5-8 with 3 runs and 1 RBI.
Game 1: #25 Linfield 15, Whitworth 6
The Wildcats pulled away from the Pirates with eight runs in the final two innings to earn a win in the opener.
Melanie Oord led Linfield, going 3-4 with 4 RBIs and 2 runs. Lowery went 3-4 with 2 runs and 1 RBI for the Bucs.
For the first five innings, the two offenses traded blows with multi-run frames. In the first, Linfield tallied two runs on an error and a double from Oord. Whitworth responded when Kinsey McNaught drove in Lowery, who had tripled the pitch before, and Sara Gayer singled home McNaught.
Linfield re-took the lead in the following frame when Oord drove a two-run single into left field and held its 4-2 advantage into the fourth inning, when they extended it to 5-2 on a sacrifice fly to right.
The Pirates bounced back to tie the game with a big fourth inning. With Brynn Radke on third and Desi Graham on second, Lowery singled through the middle, scoring Radke. Then, McNaught pushed a ground ball through the left side of the infield to score Graham and cut the lead to one. Whitworth tied the game when Lowery scored just before the tag was placed on McNaught, who was caught in a pickle between second and third.
After Linfield added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning, Kelsey Downey drove in the Pirates final run of the day on a double to right-center field to cut the deficit to one run, but the Wilcats pulled away with eight runs in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win.
Shelby Saylors (11-5) struggled early, but recovered and held Whitworth scoreless in the final two innings to earn the win. Madelyn Carlson (12-6) had a difficult time finding her rhythm in the loss, allowing 13 earned runs.
Game 2: #25 Linfield 5, Whitworth 4
Fletcher's go-ahead home run in the fifth inning propelled the Wildcats to a win in the nightcap.
The senior finished the game 2-3 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs to lead Linfield. Lowery went 2-4 with a run for the Pirates.
The Bucs jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Lowery opened the frame with a single up the middle and was immediately driven in when McNaught's triple snuck past Fletcher's glove in center field. Chelsey Hayes followed with a single to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead.
Linfield responded with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Oord doubled in Fletcher and Darian Stedman kocked in Alana Nuttman, Oord's pinch-runner, with a single to even the score. After the Bucs went back ahead on a sacrifice fly from McNaught, the Wilcats responded with three runs, including Fletcher's home run.
Down 5-3, Michelle Silva pulled the Bucs within one by sending a home run over the left field wall, but the blast would be the last run Whitworth was able to push across. Eliza Rossman held the Pirate bats silent in the sixth and seventh innings to give Linfield a series victory.
Rossman (14-1) earned the complete game win for the Wilcats. She allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks. Kaylee Rosenbaum (1-1) took the loss in relief for the Pirates.
Looking Ahead: Whitworth returns to Marks Field on April 7-8 to take on Lewis & Clark.