COLLEGE PLACE — The Walla Walla University softball team hunted duck here Sunday afternoon against the University of Oregon club team, chewing on the Ducks in 9-1 and 5-1 victories.
The Wolves prevailed over the Ducks in game one in five innings due to the eight-run mercy rule, and gutted out a victory in an early-game pitching duel in game two.
Walla Walla’s Karissa Barton was top dog on the day with two home runs. Barton smacked a grand salami in game one to bust it open, and hit a solo shot in game two to begin the scoring.
The Wolves plated three runs in the opener’s first inning to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the third, where they tacked on four more on the grand slam.
The three-run rally in the first inning started on Rilei Hill and Nicole Beeks’ back-to-back singles to left. Kate Wilson reached on an error to load the bases. Karly Joseph walked to force in a run and the next two hitters followed with RBI singles.
Taylor Larsen singled to centerfield and Brittany Gutierrez knocked in a run on her hit to center.
Loading the bases for Barton in the third were Wilson, Larsen and Gutierrez with two hits and a walk.
Next, Barton slammed a shot to deep left field near the foul line and over the fence.
It was 7-0 going into the fourth inning, where the Ducks scratched out a single run.
With the score 7-1 Wolves, going into the bottom of the fifth, WWU was able to score two more runs to get the win in the shortened game.
Gutierrez and Barton singled in the rally while Hill had an RBI groundout. The final run scored on a wild-pitch with the courtesy runner for Gutierrez, Kira Thornton, scampering in from third.
Gutierrez got the complete-game win while in the circle. She gave up just the one run on five hits.
“If we’re around the plate and use speed change,” WWU coach Mike Jimenez said, “it throws their batters off. The combination of that good pitching and the girls playing fundamental defense kept us in the game until we could really get the bats going.
“I’ve been telling the girls that the fundamentals are important even if they are boring or monotonous to practice. Our practice of the fundamentals is finally paying off, especially on defense where they’re most important.”
Game two was a pitcher’s duel between WWU’s Nicole Beeks and Oregon’s Serenil Sierra for the first four innings of scoreless ball.
Sierra was rolling in the circle with seven strikeouts and just two hits through four innings. Beeks was holding down the Ducks to zero runs as well.
Then, up stepped Barton again with one out and the bases empty.
This time, she sent a shot to deep center over the fence to make the score 1-0 and start the Wolves rally.
Barton’s teammates followed suit with three consecutive singles to score two more runs in the inning. The hits were by Hill, Beeks and Andrie Iwasa.
The Wolves scored two more insurance runs in the sixth inning with the help of a Larsen single, a Gutierrez hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch and a costly throwing error.
The Ducks managed to score a run in the top of the seventh before the game’s conclusion. Kim Boyd doubled and scored on an error off the bat of Sierra.
“The second game we grinded through some innings with both pitchers throwing well,” Jimenez said. “We kept battling at the plate and stayed the course. It was nice to see the team finally break through offensively. I’m not sure if it was us making adjustments against their pitcher or her just tiring out. Either way I’ll take the runs and the victories. To also see the girls stay with defense until the bats come through, I love that.”
The Wolves (5-8) take to the field again Tuesday against Big Bend Community College at 2 p.m. in a twin bill.
Oregon Club 000 100 — 1 5 1
Walla Walla 304 02X — 9 13 1
Steinmetz and Downey. Gutierrez and Jones.
HR — WWU: Barton.
Hits — Oregon: Downey, Thompson, Diller, Miller, Armagost. WWU: Jones 2, Hill, Beeks, Wilson 2, Larsen 3, Gutierrez 2, Barton 2.
Oregon Club 000 000 1 — 1 11 2
Walla Walla 000 032 X — 5 8 2
Sierra and Downey. Beeks and Jones.
HR — WWU: Barton.
Hits — Oregon: Boyd, Sierra 3, Downey, Steinmetz, Thompson 2, Diller 2, Milne. WWU: Jones, Hill, Beeks, Wilson, Larsen, Barton, Iwasa 2.