Whitworth Claims First-Ever NWC Softball Championship - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth Claims First-Ever NWC Softball Championship

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by Whitworth Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. - Tessa Matthews' double to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning drove in Peyton McMahon with the run that not only gave Whitworth an 11-3 6-inning win over Lewis & Clark College in Sunday's series finale, it capped off the first Northwest Conference softball championship in Pirate history.

Whitworth finished the regular season 30-10 overall and 21-7 in the NWC to win the league championship by two games over both George Fox (29-11, 19-9) and Pacific (29-13, 19-9).  Linfield, the 11-time defending champion heading into this season, finished fourth at 28-12, 17-11.

Whitworth added softball as a varsity sport in 1998.  Gary Blake, the first-ever Pirate softball coach, was in attendance at today's doubleheader.  Cristal Brown, in her fourth season as the current coach, has progressively led the Bucs up the standings in each of her four seasons.

Whitworth will host the 2015 NWC tournament on Friday and Saturday.  The Pirates will play the fourth-seeded Wildcats, while GFU and Pacific meet in the other first round match up.  The tournament is a double-elimination event and will determine the NWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Chelsey Hayes went 5-8 and drove in five runs on the day for Whitworth.

Game 1 - Lewis & Clark 7, Whitworth 2
Pioneer pitcher Hallie Knife cut through the Pirate batters to earn the complete-game victory in the opener, delaying Whitworth's opportunity to clinch an outright NWC title.  Knife (2-2) limited the Pirates to two runs (none earned) on five hits.  She struck out five batters and walked one.

Hannah Dal Pra gave L&C a quick 3-0 lead with a three-run homer in the top of the first inning.  It was her team-leading sixth home run of the season.

Stephanie Garcia's infield single in the sixth inning drove in Ateisha Norton and increased the lead to 4-0.  The Pioneers scored three more times in the top of the seventh, including two on Jenai Rojo's fifth home run of the year.
Whitworth broke through in the bottom of the seventh against Knife when Chelsey Hayes doubled in a pair of runs.

Makayla Lefever (16-3) started the game for Whitworth and allowed three runs on four hits in two innings to pick up the loss.  Madi Perez came on in relief and gave up one run on five hits in four innings of work.  Megan Fisher pitched the final inning and allowed three runs on three hits.

Garcia went 3-5, while Rojo finished 3-4 at the plate for L&C.  Hayes was the only Pirate with two hits in the game.

Game 2 - Whitworth 11, Lewis & Clark 3 (6 innings) This time Whitworth bounced back from an early 3-0 deficit with 11 consecutive runs to claim the win.  Hayes and McMahon each drove in three runs for the Pirates.

Norton's bases-loaded triple to right field in the top of the third inning gave L&C its early lead.

But Whitworth came back with four runs in the bottom of the third.  Hayes drove in two with a single threw second base.  Megan John added a run-scoring single to centerfield and McMahon drove in Hayes with a sacrifice fly.

The Pirates added five runs in the fourth to break the game open.  Hayes drove in Sacha Clow with a double to left field.  John added her second RBI single of the game and Shannon Wessel tripled to right to drive in Hayes and John.  McMahon's single up the middle sent home Wessel.

Wessel singled to start the sixth and scored on McMahon's triple.  Matthews followed with her blast to the wall in left field to give Whitworth an eight-run lead and end the game on the NCAA's mercy rule.

Hayes finished 3-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.  McMahon went 2-3 with her three RBIs, leading a group of five Pirates who had a pair of hits in the game.

Lefever started the second game of the day in the circle for Whitworth.  She allowed three runs on five hits in 2.2 innings.  Perez (14-6) completed the rest of the game in relief to earn the victory.  She allowed no runs on two hits in 3.1 innings of work.

Hollenbeck (3-12) was the starting pitcher for L&C and took the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits in three innings.  Whitworth finally got to Knife in the second game, scoring five runs on five hits in only a third of an inning.  Jill Pinder finished off the game for the Pioneers, allowing two runs on five hits in 1.2 innings.

Lewis & Clark finished 9-30 overall and 6-22 in the NWC this season.
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