Linfield softball wins NCAA tournament
Courtesy of Linfield sports information
The verdict is in.
Confirming an outcome that many anticipated, the Linfield Wildcats are headed to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the 11th straight season. Grace Middelstadt went 4-for-4 with a rare inside-the-park home run and Karina Paavola pitched an 11-strikeout masterpiece to lead the Wildcats to an 8-0 victory over Pacific in the championship game of the Northwest Conference Tournament Saturday at Del Smith Stadium.
The Wildcats' win on their home field clinched the NWC's automatic entry to the NCAA posteason party, May 9-10 at campus sites to be announced May 5 by the NCAA. Middlestadt, Ashley Garcia and Kenzie Schmoll all homered as Linfield piled up 11 hits on Pacific pitchers Allie Sims and Maddie Collura. The victory, Linfield's 34th against seven losses, was abbreviated to six innings by the eight run rule.
As it often does, Linfield scored in bunches. The ‘Cats produced three runs in the third inning, highlighted by Middelstadt's sprint around the bases with one out.
After Erin Carson tripled, Garcia blasted her fifth home run of the season to make it 3-0. The fourth inning saw Linfield rung up four more runs. Schmoll notched the first home run of her college career, a two-run shot, and Katy Brosig followed with a two-run double moments later for a 7-0 advantage.
Freshman Erin Kinney sealed the victory for the home-standing Wildcats with a RBI single.
Paavola pushed her record to 19-3 for the season. She allowed the Boxers three hits and no walks. Carson went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Brosig and Haylie Watson each drove in two runs.
Since the NWC Tournament was established in 2011, Linfield has won 12 of 14 tournament games.
Linfield 14, Willamette 3
Linfield 9, Pacific 1
The Linfield Wildcats left little doubt they are the team to beat at the 2014 Northwest Conference Tournament, pounding playoff qualifiers Willamette and Pacific by a combined score of 23-4 to begin the four-team tournament Friday at Del Smith Stadium.
The first game, shortened to five innings by the eight-run rule, got out of hand with 12 Linfield runs crossing the plate during the third and fourth innings.
Senior ace Karina Paavola pitched a three-hitter on her way to breaking the Linfield career victories record, Katy Brosig and Haylie Watson blasted home runs while going 3-for-3, and Danielle Duman drove in three runs to pace a 14-hit Wildcats barrage.
Home runs by Garcia, Kinney and Yamamoto did the greatest damage in the second game as the Wildcats ran roughshod on the Boxers. Shelby VandeBergh earned the pitching victory, striking out three Boxers while yielding three hits through the game's first three innings. Karina Paavola and Montana McNealy provided mop-up duty to put the finishing touches on the Boxers.