Linfield softball team wins conference title for 11th year in row

Clark County trio help 'Catball' team rule NWC again

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The Linfield College softball dynasty just keeps rolling.

With help from three starters from Clark County, the Wildcats wrapped up an 11th consecutive Northwest Conference championship with a four-game sweep of Whitworth over April 5-6 in Spokane.

Linfield’s lineup includes junior outfielders Erin Carson (Camas High School) and Grace Middelstadt (Prairie High School) and junior catcher McKenna Spieth (Union High School). All three were All-NWC selections as sophomores — Carson and Middelstadt to the First Team and Spieth to the Second Team.

Carson was also an NCAA Division III All-America and First Team All-Region selection, and Middelstadt was a Second Team All-Region pick.

Each of the trio has started all 38 of the team’s games this season.

Also on the Linfield roster is another Camas graduate, freshman catcher Erin Tauscher.

Linfield won three of its last four regular season games last weekend, back-to-back doubleheaders against Willamette University at home Saturday and Sunday in Salem, Ore.

The Wildcats (31-7 overall) completed a third consecutive 25-3 record in NWC games, finishing six full games ahead of runner-up Pacific University of Oregon. They were No. 6 in the most recent NCAA-III rankings released April 9.

Linfield’s 11-year title run matches the 1987-97 reign of Pacific Lutheran University for the longest stranglehold on the championship in NWC history.

The Wildcats reached 30 wins in each season of their current title run.

Going into the final two regular season games Sunday, Carson was batting .283 with 18 RBI; Middelstadt .296 with 21 stolen bases on 25 attempts; and Spieth .294 with 15 RBI.

Carson hit her first home run of the season Sunday in the regular season finale, a 10-2 loss in six innings. She hit .462 over the four-game set, with four RBI, driving in the go-ahead run in each of Saturday’s games.

Spieth homered in Sunday’s opener.

Middelstadt was 4 of 7 in the April 6 doubleheader at Whitworth, adding a pair of steals as she moves closer to second place on the school’s career list.

With the NWC championship secured, Linfield earned the right to host the four-team conference playoff tournament, April 18-19 at Del Smith Stadium in McMinnville, Ore. The winner of the double-elimination tournament receives the automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Linfield will face Willamette at 11 a.m. Friday, with Pacific and Whitworth meeting in the second game.

Play continues through Saturday.

Women’s golf

Bartek leads Hornets

Sacramento State University freshman Chloe Bartek shot a career-best 54-hole score of 224 to lead the Hornets at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic tournament April 6-8 in Maricopa, Ariz.

The Columbia River High School graduate shot 77-71-76 over the three days, placing ninth as the Hornets finished eighth in the 20-team event.

Bartek’s final round featured some streaky play as she bogeyed her first two holes then parred her next three. Birdies on the next two returned her to even before she had three consecutive bogeys and two pars. From there, she finished bogey-par-par-par-birdie-bogey.

Bartek, who was 1-under par for the second round, posted her first career collegiate Top 10 individual finish.

Next for the Hornets is the Big Sky Conference Championship, April 21-23 at Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz.

Women’s track and field

SPU’s Decker qualifies for NCAA-II nationals

Seattle Pacific University sophomore Lynelle Decker ran a personal best and NCAA Division II provisional qualifying time of 2 minutes, 10.58 seconds in the 800-meter run at the Stanford Invitational on April 5.

The Mountain View High School graduate shaved nearly a full second off her previous best of 2:11.57, set at last year’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Monmouth, Ore.

Decker’s time was the fourth-best in NCAA-II to that point in the season. It would have ranked 12th on last year’s entry list for the NCAA-II championships.

A minimum of 20 individuals are selected for each individual event.

Decker also narrowly missed a provisional qualifying time the day before in the 1,500 meters, with a time of 4:35.81. The standard is 4:35.34.

The NCAA Division II Championships are May 22-24 in Allendale, Mich.

Men’s golf

Willamette’s Kukula garners NWC honors

Willamette University junior Ryan Kukula was named Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week for men’s golf after winning the individual title at the Willamette Spring Thaw tournament held last weekend in Bend, Ore.

The Ilwaco High School graduate shot 8-under 136 for 36 holes, shooting 67-69 to win medalist honors by nine strokes.

Willamette won the team title by 16 strokes.

Academic honors

Academic All-CCC

The Cascade Collegiate Conference announced its spring sports Academic All-CCC honors on Tuesday.

To be recognized, student-athletes must have a minimum 3.2 grade point average and at least sophomore standing.

Honorees from Clark County:

— Jordan Bennett, Northwest Christian University softball (Prairie High School), senior, education.

— Cole Buruse, Concordia University baseball (Skyview High School), sophomore, business administration.

— Meagan Governor, Northwest University track and field (La Center High School), junior, math/Biblical literature.

— Austin Hadley, Concordia baseball (Evergreen High School), sophomore, chemistry.

— Haley Holboke, Corban University track and field (Mountain View High School), junior, education.

— Tanner Maahs, Concordia golf (Prairie High School), junior, business administration.

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