Catball leads, going to regional playoffs

Gabriel Nair, Staff writer

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This past weekend, Linfield softball played in the tournament to decide who would go the NCAA regional playoffs. The Wildcats played three games this weekend. Their first game was on Friday against the Whitworth Pirates.

The Wildcats were superb in Friday’s game, forcing the game to stop at seven innings instead of the usual nine. The Wildcats scored five runs, as opposed to Whitworth’s one run, before the game was called.

Shelby Saylors, ’19, pitched well with three strikeouts and only allowed one run from an RBI by Natalie Eldin. The Wildcats racked up the runs, scoring three in the third inning, and one a piece in the fourth and fifth, which sent them into the next round to play the Pacific Boxers.

Against Pacific, the Wildcats fought a hard game. The first inning opened with Pacific scoring three runs off of a homer from Hailey Miller. Linfield was able to get two runs in the bottom of the first.

The Boxers continued to pile on the runs, scoring another four in the top of the third inning. But the Wildcats put themselves within striking distance of the Boxers, with two singles from Makenna Clizer, ’20, and Chelsea Horita, ’20, making the score 7-5.

In the fifth inning, Linfield proved to be the better competitor. Paige Smotherman, ’19, hit a double for a run to bring Linfield to 7-6.

This set up for the greatest comeback this season and Darian Stedman, ’19, succeeded when it counted. She hit a three-run RBI home run, which then sent the Wildcats to play against the other champion of the Northwest Conference, the George Fox Bruins.

The Wildcats had a total 13 hits agsint the Bruins as they paved the way to head to the NCAA regional championship. Jacinda Swiger, ’18, hit three out of her four at-bats and scored twice.

“I think that my performance this weekend was okay, but definitely could’ve been better- especially the first two games of the tournament. However, my teammates had my back and picked me up with some huge hits and performances of their own, which I’m super proud of. I think that going into the NCAA regional playoffs, I’m just ready to compete again,” Swiger said about her performances throughout the tournament.

During the game, the ‘cats scored runs in every inning except the fifth. On the other hand, the Bruins only scored in the first inning, leading to an anti-climatic matchup for the co-champions who split the regular season series.

“It was awesome to pull out the three wins we needed to make it to regional’s and we cannot wait to keep playing together,” Jessica Woodruff, ’18, said after qualifying for the NCAA regional playoffs.

In this game, Saylors pitched even better than she did on Friday, with five strikeouts.

“Our team has improved immensely from the beginning of the year, and I think that we’ve finally figured things out and have started to play to our full potentials—which I think should scare the opposing teams.

“We have two weeks to get after it and get better before the regional tournament, and you can bet that catball is going to come and play with a vengeance—we’re here to prove that we have earned the chance to play at the regional tournament, and that we deserve a spot at the national tournament,” Swiger said on her expectations for the regional playoffs.

Linfield will be playing in the regional playoffs on May 11-13. The location and the opponent will be revealed on May 7.