PHEONIX, Ariz. – The Pacific women's softball team went 2-0 in their season debut on Friday, edging past Weber State, 5-4, and Montana, 7-6, in the Grand Canyon University Kickoff Tournament.
The Tigers' wins came off go-ahead runs late in the game to help the Orange and Black advance over the Wildcats and Grizzlies.
"We had a couple good at bats in the 7th [inning] to get us going and help us pull through late but I think it was the little things that we did throughout that really put us in position to win and I think we took advantage of that today," Head Coach Brian Kolze said.
The victories bring Pacific to 2-0 on the year, giving the Tigers a clean start to the season as they move onward to Day 2 of the GCU Tournament. Weber State drops to 0-1 while the Grizzlies fall to 0-3 for the year.
Pacific vs. Weber State – Box Score
The Tigers kicked off the season just how they wanted against Weber State, scoring early in the top of the first and taking advantage of runners in scoring position.
The Wildcats then responded in the bottom half of the first as Hailey Reed gave up an RBI single to Ashlyn Visser.
Reed had a successful day in the circle overall, pitching a full seven innings of work and allowing just three earned runs. The sophomore pitcher struck out eight batters in total for Pacific, opening up the match with a strikeout in her first three innings.
The Orange and Black struggled to get things going on offense after the first however, recording only one during the second and sixth inning. The Wildcats capitalized during the Tigers' batting drought scoring three runs, two in the fourth and one in the fifth, to put them late with the score 4-2.
Despite their batting woes, Pacific got deep in the pitch count each time they were up to bat and let the pitches come to them, setting a single-game record 11 walks for the day. Sydney Lahners tied an individual game-record reaching base on balls four times throughout the match.
"We did a good job seeing the ball [this game] and it goes back to doing those little things that kept us in position," Kolze stated.
Down two in the top of the 7th inning, Reed reached base off of a Weber State error. Now with Rachel Sellers up to bat and the pitch count 3-1 in her favor, Sellers drove a ball over to left field for a two RBI homer which tied the game up at 4-4.
Fields followed suit by hitting a double down to left field and putting herself in scoring position. Shepherd took care of the rest, knocking in her first collegiate hit with a ground-ruled single that brought Fields to home plate for the go-ahead run and put the Tigers in the drivers' seat with the 5-4 lead.
The Tigers' three-run, four hit inning gave Pacific the momentum it needed as Reed got out of a bottom half jam with two runners on, grounding out three batters to end the game.
Pacific vs. Montana – Box Score
In a matchup that seemed out of reach for the Tigers, the Orange and Black exploded for a five-run 7th inning and erased a 6-2 deficit for their second straight match of the day against last year's Big Sky Champion, Montana.
Pacific grabbed a 1-0 lead on the Grizzlies in the first inning, as Molly Bourne recorded her first hit of the season singling to right field and bringing home Hailey Reed from second base. Bourne finished with two hits and two RBI's.
Pitcher Marissa Young struggled early on, giving up five earned runs in three innings for the Tigers as well as four hits and three runs in the second inning. The Orange and Black trailed 5-1 heading into the 4th.
Megan Walters came in as relief and finished the game for Pacific allowing only two hits, one run, and struck out seven batters.
"Marissa didn't have her best performance [today] but Megan did a phenomenal job picking things up for us in relief," said Coach Kolze. "We were a bit passive and didn't compete very well [in the circle] to start out both matches today but we got things together later on".
Bourne picked things up for the Tigers in the fifth, tallying her second RBI of the game with a two-out double to right centerfield bringing in Reed all the way from first base. This cut the lead to 5-2.
Another run scored by Montana made the score 6-2 heading into the 7th. With Caitlin Reynolds and Starr Vang each advancing on their at-bats, a pop fly by Madison Hopper and Reed gave Pacific two outs with runners on.
Two straight walks by Bourne and Lahners made the score 3-6 with the bases loaded. With the game winning run on, Samantha Owen hit a bomb down to left field for a grand slam bringing home all three runners and giving the Tigers their first lead of the game since the first inning.
Walters struck out the side in the bottom 7th to cap off a remarkable win for the Orange and Black.
"You have to tip your cap to [Weber State and Montana], but our players made some clutch hits down the stretch to get us the win," Kolze said. "Credit to [Samantha] for squaring up and hitting a rocket out of the park to give us the lead…There's some things we need to clean up but overall a job well done."
Pacific gets set for Day 2 of the GCU Tournament tomorrow with another rematch against Weber State (0-1) at 1 P.M. and hosts GCU (2-0) at 5:30 P.M.