TUCSON, Ariz. – Riley Fritz and Taylor Gilbert tossed a pair of pitching gems to lead the rapidly improving Whitworth softball team to a pair of wins to conclude the Pirates' stay at the Tucson Invitational on Friday. Whitworth beat Carleton 11-1 in five innings in the first game and topped nationally-ranked Carthage 4-1 in the finale.
Since a 3-14 start the Pirates have won 10 of their last 11 games to improve to 13-15. Whitworth is now off until next Saturday (March 31) when the Bucs begin a four-game Northwest Conference series against Lewis & Clark.
Game 1 – Whitworth 11, Carleton 1 (5 innings)
Fritz tossed a four-hitter and the Pirates took advantage of six errors by the Knights, who dropped to 1-11.
After Fritz allowed a leadoff triple by Jenny Ramey and a squeeze bunt to Kelsey Parsons in the first inning she shut down Carleton on three more hits the rest of the way. Fritz improved to 7-10 after striking out five batters and walking none. She retired the final eight batters in a row after she shut the door on a potential rally by Carleton in the third inning.
Two errors on one play with Johnson at-bat in the second allowed Whitworth to score the first two runs in a three-run rally that gave the Pirates an 8-1 lead.
Johnson added a two-run double in the third inning and Peyton McMahon drove in a run in the fourth with her pinch-hit single.
Johnson finished the game 2-3 with her team-leading three RBIs. Jessica Ross drove in a pair of runs for the Pirates while Brunner had two hits and scored two runs.
Game 2 – Whitworth 4, Carthage 1
Gilbert scattered seven hits in her complete-game effort, helping Whitworth hand the 18th-ranked Lady Reds (10-2) their first loss of the season against an NCAA Division III opponent.
The Pirates took a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Johnson's sacrifice fly with one out and the bases loaded drove home Sami Parr with the first run. With runners on first and third, Whitworth executed a double steal with Sacha Clow taking home plate for the second run. Heather Hesselgesser's RBI single gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead.
Carthage got within 3-1 in the fourth on an RBI double by Alyse Mikolas. But the Pirates got that run back in the fifth when Brunner drilled her second home run of the season.
The Lady Reds tried to rally in the seventh after getting two runners on base with one out, but Gilbert retired the final two batters on fly balls to end the threat.
Gilbert struck out two batters and did not allow a walk while improving her record to 6-1.
Parr went 2-4 to lead the Pirates at the plate.