NEWBERG, Ore. – Taylor Gilbert tossed a two-hitter for Whitworth in the opener, but George Fox held on for an important 5-4 victory in the night cap as the teams split a Northwest Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday at Morse Field.
With the split the Bruins (19-19 overall, 14-12 NWC) clinched the fourth and final spot in next week's conference tournament. Sami Parr went 4-6 with a home run, triple, double and six RBIs on the day for the Pirates (18-20, 11-15 NWC).
The teams will complete the four-game series with another doubleheader on Sunday.
Game 1 – Whitworth 9, George Fox 1 (6 innings)
Parr went 3-4 with four RBIs and Taylor allowed only one run on two hits in what might have been her best performance of the season.
Parr singled in the first run of the game to spark a four-run rally in the third inning for the Pirates. Jamie Brunner followed with a single that drove in Parr and Julia Johnson doubled home Brunner. Johnson went to third base on the throw home and scored when the throw from the catcher to third got away.
Jessica Ross opened the fourth inning with a triple and scored on a throwing error by the Bruins' second baseman. With two out later in the inning Hanna Boyd legged out an infield single and Parr tripled to deep right field to increase the Pirates' lead to 6-0.
Whitworth added three more runs in the sixth, the first two on Parr's two-run double to center field. Parr later scored on Sacha Clow's two-out single.
Jenny Milton provided the only blemish on Taylor's stat line when she hit her first homer of the season in the bottom of the sixth. But it was not enough to prevent Whitworth from winning by the NCAA's eight-run rule.
Taylor improved to 9-4 after striking out four and walking none in her seventh complete game of the season.
In addition to Parr's big day at the plate, Caylan Haehl went 2-2 with two runs scored and Brunner and Johnson each finished with a pair of hits and an RBI.
Erin Hento (7-6) went four innings and allowed five earned runs for George Fox.
Game 2 – George Fox 5, Whitworth 4
All of the scoring came in the first two innings as Bruin starting pitcher Allyssa DenDekker retired the final 16 Pirate batters in a row to clinch the berth in the NWC playoffs.
Parr led off the game with her fourth home run of the season and Whitney Byrom added an RBI double later in the first to get the Pirates out to a 2-0 lead.
But George Fox scored four in the bottom of the first, including two on Kerrianne Davidson's home run, to go ahead 4-2.
A throwing error on a sacrifice by Boyd in the second inning allowed Makenzie Hope to score all the way from first base and Boyd to move to third. Parr followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that tied the game.
Bethany Chriss drove in what became the game-winning run in the bottom of the second.
DenDekker improved to 6-6 this season after allowing two earned runs on four hits in her complete-game effort. She struck out five and walked one.
Gilbert also went the distance in the second game, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks. She struck out one and fell to 9-5.