Wednesday, July 26, 2017 This Week's Paper

Lutes cruise past winless Loggers for sweep

// Defending national champs eyeing late surge

The Puget Sound softball team was looking for any sort of break to get them into the win column as they faced their crosstown rival and defending national champion Pacific Lutheran in the second half of two straight doubleheaders against the Lutes on April 2-3. But the end results would be more of the same for the Loggers at home on April 3, as they were shut out twice by PLU to remain winless this season.

The Lutes’ Leah Butters scattered five hits in a complete-game win in game one, and Kaaren Hatlen and Kelsey Robinson duplicated that feat in game two as PLU completed the four-game, two-day sweep by scores of 7-0 and 8-0. The Lutes improved to 12-6 in Northwest Conference play, but sat four games behind league-leading Linfield.

“We’ve been pretty inconsistent for most of the year and today was no exception,” said PLU coach Erin Van Nostrand, who was still looking for some consistency in her defending champs’ play. “We’ll have to play better than we did today if we hope to advance far in the playoffs this year.”

The Lutes would get all the runs they would need in the first inning of game one, as Hatlen drove in Melissa Harrelson with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Glenelle Nitta would punctuate the opening-game win for the Lutes with a solo home run to right center field in the second inning. Hatlen later helped make it 5-0 with a two-run triple in the third to put the icing on the cake in game one.

Struggling to find any kind of consistent offense all day, the Loggers would manage to get only one runner – first baseman Shannon Reed – as far as second base.

The Lutes would coast in the nightcap, with Hatlen throwing five shutout innings and adding a first-inning solo home run to right field, as she finished with two runs batted in.

“I made up my mind to go after the hitters early, and I hit my spots for most of the five innings that I threw,” Haatlen said. “I’ve been swinging the bat really well too.”

Despite all the of the trials and tribulations they have experienced this year, the Loggers are not without bright spots. Third baseman Amy Schmeckpeper has been a real sparkplug for first-year coach Kellyn Tate. She provided much of the offense for UPS in game two, going 2-for-3 while getting little support from her teammates. While she hopes for better results in all facets of the game, Van Nostrand is hoping her squad can close with a rush and possibly repeat as Division III champs. “Linfield is really playing well right now, but if we can get some semblance of consistency we could make things interesting in the (league) tournament and beyond. We’ll see what happens.”