Whitworth softball season comes to a close

With a Northwest Conference Tournament berth on the line, the Whitworth softball team traveled to Newberg, Ore., last weekend to take on the Bruins of George Fox University. Whitworth needed to sweep the series in order to reach the conference tournament.  The Pirates went down in a hard-fought battle on Saturday afternoon, zapping their playoff hopes.

Still, head coach Cristal Brown was optimistic in her reflections.

“I’d say we actually did really well overall all weekend,” Brown said on Sunday. “Our loss yesterday came down yesterday to one pitch that could have made a difference.”

The series was ultimately split 2-2. Neither team won two consecutive games.

In Saturday’s first game, the Pirates came out energized and crushed the Bruins in a 9-1 victory, called off after six innings in compliance with the NCAA eight-run mercy rule. Taylor Gilbert allowed just two hits in the game and would be the backbone of the Whitworth team for the rest of the weekend.

“Taylor Gilbert did an awesome job,” Brown said. “She threw all but 1.2 innings for us this weekend and did amazing.”

Whitworth didn’t quite have what it would have taken to round the corner in game two. Senior second basemen Sami Parr led the team with one run, one hit and two RBIs on the game. The Bruins won 5-4, thanks to pitching, which held Whitworth to no hits following the second inning.

Gilbert was again phenomenal in Sunday’s earlier game, leading Whitworth to the 6-0 victory. Junior Jamie Brunner dominated offensively with a pair of runs, hits and RBIs, respectively.

The final game of the season for the Bucs came down to one inning. All three of GFU’s runs were scored during the fourth, and Whitworth never recovered. Again, Brunner led the team with two hits and one run. Gilbert was relieved from the circle for the first time all weekend for the final 1.2 innings.

The Pirates finish their season 19-21 overall and 13-15 in the Northwest Conference.

“I think the weekend was a little bit indicative of what the season was like, where we played some good softball and it didn’t always turn out how we wanted it to,” Brown said. “We’re excited for next year.”

 

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Softball sweeps Lewis & Clark

The Whitworth women’s softball team did not surrender to the Spokane weather last weekend. After some shuffling of the schedule, the Pirates swept the Pioneers of Lewis & Clark College in four games at their home Diana Marks Field. “The girls like to play at home,” head Coach Cristal Brown said. “We don’t get an overabundance of opportunities to do that, so it makes them proud.”

The Bucs played proud, too. Whitworth’s bats were explosive with 46 hits on the weekend.

In six innings in Sunday’s first game, the Bucs dominated the Pioneers 9-1. Freshman centerfielder Sacha Clow had two hits, two RBIs, and scored three runs. Senior second baseman Sami Parr’s RBI double gave the Pirates a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. Junior centerfielder Heather Hesselgesser, senior catcher Ashley Greig, and Parr all had two hits in the game. Freshman pitcher Taylor Gilbert pitched a complete game allowing three hits.

Lewis & Clark battled in Sunday’s later game, but the Bucs still pulled it out. Sophomore shortstop Caylan Haehl and Hesselgesser led Whitworth with three hits apiece. Hesselgesser also added two RBIs.

“Even when they started scoring some runs, we knew we were going to come back,” Brown said. “Hitting wise we were super confident.”

The Pirates entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied. Clow batted in Hesselgesser for the winning run.

The series continued on Monday to make up for being unable to play due to field conditions on Saturday. The Pirates took the first game 8-4. Parr blasted two homers for Whitworth and scored three runs, while adding two RBIs. Hesselgesser and sophomore first baseman Julia Johnson also had three hits.

Whitworth finished out the weekend strong with a 14-6 routing of the Pioneers on Monday afternoon. The game was called off after five innings in respect of the NCAA 6-run rule, however Clow impressively still tied a school record with six RBIs, while Johnson added five more.  Junior designated player Jamie Brunner had three hits and a pair of RBIs.

“They’re learning how to come back after giving up after a few runs,” Brown said. “They’re learning how to win games and bats are on fire so those are all good ingredients to take forward.”

The Bucs, who improved to 17-15 over the weekend, travel to take on Willamette University in Salem, Ore., next Friday and Saturday.

 

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Sami Parr, softball

Softball coach Cristal Brown said Sami Parr is the type of player you want on your side going into battle.

“She’s a hard worker, she’s determined, she’s competitive,” Brown said of the senior second baseman. “She has a never-say-die attitude.”

As a 4-year-old, Parr begged her parents to put her on a  tee-ball team so she could keep up with her older brother who was a baseball player. As she put it, she fell in love with the game and has been playing ever since.

Now a senior leader on the Whitworth softball team, Parr acknowledges she didn’t necessarily see herself several years ago where she is today. Upon applying and being accepted to Whitworth on somewhat of a whim, she was offered the opportunity to play the game she loves.

“I just really liked the mission of the school; it really hit home for me,” Parr said. “The opportunity to get a great education and play the sport I love was an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up.”

Last year as a junior Parr was named to the honorable mention All-Northwest Conference squad. She led the Pirates in total runs scored on the season — an accomplishment she is on track to repeat this year. But Parr is recognized as a leader in more ways that just her play.

“She’s definitely a leader for us,” Brown said. “She’s not as vocal [and] you probably won’t hear Sami when you’re sitting in the stands, [but] the girls look to Sami because she leads by example. If you’re emulating Sami’s work ethic then you’re on the right track.”

Regardless of her individual achievements, Parr says one of her favorite things about playing softball is the teamwork.

“I love being a part of a team,” Parr said. “There’s really no other feeling like that. I love competing and being out on the dirt and leaving it all out there.”

Junior teammate Heather Hesselgesser reiterated Parr’s desire to be a team player.

“Sami leads by example; she is always giving her best effort and makes others want to do better,” Hesselgesser said. “She is a student of the game and understands the ins-and-outs better than any teammate I have ever had.”

After graduation, Parr plans to attend graduate school at Eastern Washington University to earn her doctorate in physical therapy. Until then, she wants to make the most of her final season. Contributing to wins is definitely an ambition, but Parr says her biggest goal right now is to make an impact on her team.

“I would just tell [younger players] to not have any regrets throughout their college career,” Parr said. “It’s going to be over before they know it. Put the extra hours in, don’t take anything for granted, try to make the most of it, practice hard every day.”

Those are the values that Parr has tried to build upon during her collegiate career.

“Sami has been a consistent and vital player every year here at Whitworth,” Hesselgesser said. “She is someone a coach would be proud to have representing their team.”

Brown would agree with that.

“Sami is a huge part of our team,” Brown said. “We’re going to miss her next year with her being a senior. She has the spirit you want to see in all of your athletes so it’s a joy to coach her.”

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

File photo by Chrissy Roach

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Boxers best Bucs in four-game series

The Whitworth softball team went 1-3 last weekend in a four-game series in Forest Grove, Ore., last Saturday and Sunday against the Boxers of Pacific University. “It was a tough weekend starting out, but we came together at the end to have a successful last game,” freshman Whitney Byrom said of the weekend.

In Saturday’s earlier game, Whitworth got out to quick start, scoring three runs in the first inning. Senior second baseman Sami Parr scored on a fielder’s choice, which was followed by two runs off of bases-loaded walks by freshman center fielder Sacha Clow and sophomore first baseman Julia Johnson. Pacific caught up quickly and went on to score three more runs in the third. Byrom, a pinch runner, scored again for Whitworth in the seventh, but Pacific walked away with the 7-4 home victory.

The second game came down to the wire. The Pirates exploded in the third inning, scoring five runs after Pacific jumped out to the quick 2-0 start. The Boxers answered with five more runs in the bottom of the third. Freshman pitcher Megan Fisher scored in the fourth then Johnson hit a homer in the fifth. Parr and Clow both scored in the sixth, giving Whitworth a 9-8 lead going into the bottom of the inning. Key Pirate errors lead to a Boxer comeback in the final innings, giving Pacific a 10-9 win, their second victory of the weekend.

“In the second game, we started hitting really well, but I don’t think we were all expecting to win,” sophomore third baseman Hannah Boyd said. “That’s what we need to work on: we need to expect to win every game.”

Sunday’s games were delayed due to rain, but eventually got underway. In the first game, Whitworth put up a good fight, but Pacific pulled out the win in the end. Junior right fielder Heather Hesselgesser had the Pirates’ first run of the game in the second inning. The Boxers answered with three runs in the third.

“In the first game instead of shutting them down when we were ahead, we let them score runs that they shouldn’t have been getting,” Byrom said.

Parr scored in the fifth, then Boyd singled to bat in sophomore pitcher Jessica Ross in the sixth. The final runs weren’t enough to overcome the Boxers, though, and Pacific came out on top, 4-3.

Whitworth rallied in the final game of the weekend, earning a 6-3 victory. The Bucs came out ready to play, quickly jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first three innings.

“Today we came out with a little different [attitude],” Byrom said Sunday. “We decided we didn’t want to lose to a team that we should be beating. We were hitting more as a unit than we were as individuals.”

Pacific scored two runs in the bottom of the third but Whitworth didn’t let up. Freshman pinch hitter Peyton McMahon singled to drive in Ross in the fifth and Clow clubbed a homer in the sixth. The Boxers scored once more in the bottom of the sixth, but the Pirates came out on top.

Though the Pirates finished the weekend with a win, improvements are still necessary.

“We’re just looking forward to next weekend and showing what we can actually do as a team,” Boyd said.

Next weekend the Bucs take on the Loggers of Puget Sound at home before heading south for the Tucson Invitational March 21-23.

Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Softball battles PLU

The Whitworth softball team went 1-3 last weekend in its trip out to Tacoma, Wash. to take on the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes. Saturday was a rough start to the two-day series for the Bucs who failed to score a run on the day.  The Lutes got out to a quick start in Saturday’s earlier game and didn’t give the Pirates a chance to get back into it. Their 5-0 lead after the first inning had doubled by the fourth inning and the game was over by the fifth due to the mercy rule, the Lutes winning 12-0. Senior Sami Parr led the Bucs with two hits.

The second half of the day wasn’t much better for Whitworth. PLU exploded with nine runs and eight hits in the first two innings, once again leaving the Pirates in the dust. Parr led Whitworth again with two hits. PLU came out on top in another five-inning game posting a final score of 14-0.

The Pirates battled back in Sunday’s first game, however, it still wasn’t enough to overcome the dominant Lutes. Freshman pitcher Riley Fritz, after struggling in her appearances on Saturday, held PLU scoreless for the first three innings.

“She kept PLU on the ropes the whole day,” head coach Cristal Brown said of Fritz. “We’ll live and die by her in some regards.”

The Lutes caught their groove, though, in the fourth and built a 5-0 lead. Whitworth caught some momentum at the end of the game as junior designated hitter Jamie Brunner brought in the Bucs’ first run of the weekend. PLU won the game 5-1.

“We just got hammered on Saturday,” Brown said. “We had got hammered the weekend before and we were fed up.”  

Whitworth wouldn’t rollover for the final game of the series, though. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when junior third baseman Heather Hesselgesser homered and brought Brunner in with her. PLU answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore right fielder Makenzie Hope scored in the fifth, then Hesselgesser batted Brunner in once again to earn another run in the sixth. Parr and freshman center fielder Sacha Clow scored in the seventh and PLU’s late three-run rally wasn’t enough to put away the Bucs. Whitworth came out on top, 6-5.

“I was super proud of the way the girls came out on Sunday,” Brown said. “They could have come out and rolled over and said ‘we’re not supposed to win.’ It says a lot about the team character and the team fight and what they can do together as a team when they become determined.”

Next weekend Whitworth travels to Forest Grove, Ore., to take on Pacific University in another Northwest Conference matchup.

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Softball swept by Linfield

It was a long weekend for the Whitworth softball team. What had originally been planned as a Saturday-Sunday home series here at Whitworth’s Diana Marks Field, ended up being played on Sunday in Pasco, Wash. at Columbia Basin College and into Monday at Hermiston High School in Hermiston, Ore.  The defending NCAA division III national champions, Linfield College, swept the Pirates in four games. “It’s annoying to not be able to play at home but I think as athletes and [especially] spring athletes, we’re all pretty used to it,” sophomore Jessica Ross said.

Coach Cristal Brown agreed with Ross, but additionally acknowledged the benefit of being able to practice on the field in Pasco for a day before competitive play actually started. In regards to the losses, Brown recognized the rigor of Whitworth’s schedule in the first few weekends of play.

“[It’s sort of like] you take your licks, but then keep moving,” Brown said. “It will make us stronger.”

Sunday the Bucs were outscored 23-3 by the Wildcats.  The first game, Whitworth lost 13-2.  Linfield got out to a quick 7-0 start, then scored its last six runs in the sixth inning alone. Ross had a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to give the Pirates their only runs of the game.

In the afternoon, Linfield buried Whitworth, 10-1. The Wildcats were unstoppable offensively early in the game, scoring 9 of their 10 runs in the first two innings. Freshman Sacha Clow had one of Whitworth’s three hits in the game and later batted in sophomore Hanna Boyd on a ground out in the third for Whitworth’s only run of the afternoon.

Brown noted that the coaching staff just switched Boyd to a left-handed bat last month and complimented her progress in the change.

“We’re looking forward to what her bat will bring for us,” Brown said.

Monday wasn’t much better to the Bucs. The earlier game of the day also came out 10-1, Linfield. Clow batted in junior Sami Parr in the first to get Whitworth out to the quick lead. The rest of the game was all Linfield. The Wildcats exploded in the sixth and final inning, scoring five of their 10 runs. Freshman Riley Fritz pitched 5.1 innings for the Pirates.

“As long as she looks at this weekend as a learning experience, I think we will see good things out of Riley as the year continues,” Brown said of the pitcher.

Monday afternoon the Wildcats momentum carried them to their fourth victory. Linfield got out to the quick 3-0 lead in the first two innings, but Whitworth battled back in the bottom of the second to make it a 3-2 game. The Wildcats came out with a booming nine runs in the fourth inning, following three in the third to blow the game open.

Brown commented on her team’s resilience throughout the weekend.

“Linfield took it to us on Sunday, but our girls still bounced back on Monday and even led for [part of the game],” Brown said.

Whitworth has also been at a disadvantage due to field conditions in Spokane. While other league teams have been practicing on their home fields, the Pirates have been in a gym trying to do as much as they can to prepare for the season. Brown and her team know that this was a weekend to learn.

“We just need to keep our heads up and remember that this is just one weekend in our season,” Ross said.

Due to the scheduling shifts in the week, the Bucs will only practice twice this week before traveling to Tacoma, Wash., to take on Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday and Sunday.

“PLU is going to be tough but we’re hoping the fact that we dealt with Linfield this weekend will just make us stronger,” Brown said. “[We have] 2 days of practice to try to pinpoint some individual things that each girl can work on. If we can do that we will be stronger as a team.”

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Women’s softball opens season on road

The Whitworth softball team kicked off its season last weekend, going 2-4 in the Northwest Cup in Clackamas, Ore. The Pirates dealt with constant rain all weekend, making for wet fields and cold conditions. “It was really good for us to get out on the dirt and work as a team,” freshman pitcher Riley Fritz said.

The Bucs went 1-1 Friday, losing their season opener to the College of Idaho and beating Concordia University (Ore.) later in the day. Whitworth hung with C of I for most of the first game, but fell to the Coyotes 2-1. Senior Sami Parr had the lone run in the top of the first inning when junior Jamie Brunner was walked. After its initial run in the fourth, the C of I hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win. Fritz pitched in her first career start for the Pirates.

Concordia and Whitworth duked out a hard-fought battle in the second day of competition. The Pirates started strong with nine runs coming in the first two innings. Concordia cut the lead to 9-5 in the fifth inning, but Parr clubbed her first homer of the season to keep Whitworth in control of the game. Redshirt freshman Taylor Gilbert pitched the first 2.1 innings and was relieved by Fritz, who secured the victory for the Bucs.

Whitworth split again on Saturday beating North- west Christian University 6-5 and losing to Corban University 12-4. In the NCU game, Whitworth got off to a quick start and led most of the game. NCU made a run, but the Bucs pulled out a close win thanks to three runs in the final inning.

“I think the biggest highlight [of the weekend] was our comeback win against Northwest Christian,” Parr said. “Everyone showed a lot of character and didn’t give up going into last inning.” Freshman Megan Fisher pitched 4.2 innings in her first career start. Junior Heather Hesselgesser had a team-high two hits.

In Saturday’s second game, Whitworth could not match the late momentum of Corban University who scored eight of its 12 runs in the final few innings. Fritz started the game again, pitching for the first 5.1 innings, but Gilbert came in to close. Parr led the team with three runs and three hits.

“As a team the biggest area of improvement would be consistency,” Parr said. “We need to string some stuff together and perform [our best] each inning both offensively and defensively.”

After beating Concordia Friday, the Pirates fell 8-0 in the rematch on Sunday. Whitworth struggled at the plate; they were held hitless and were on base just twice due to walks.

“As a team, we need to improve on some things, but nothing that a few practices can’t work out,” Fritz said.

Sunday afternoon the Bucs lost 7-3 to the defending NAIA National Champion Oregon Tech Owls in their final game of the weekend. In the third inning, the Owls exploded offensively scoring all eight of their runs and leaving Whitworth in the dust. Fritz pitched 6.1 innings. Freshman Ashlyn Mundo led the team with three hits.

“I think it was even if we didn’t play to our full potential it was good to get out and play this weekend and travel with the girls,” Fritz said. “I think we’ll be ready when league starts.”

Whitworth plays its first Northwest Conference series against Linfield on Saturday and Sunday at home.

“It’s just really good to see the character of the team,” Parr said. “We had a couple [of] big losses but it’s really good to see people bounce back from that. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the season goes.”

Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

File Photo: Chrissy Roach Photo caption: Junior Heather Hesselgesser throws the ball during a game last spring.