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Boxers return home after grueling road swing

SOFTBALL: Pacific evens its league record with a pair of convincing wins over Puget Sound

The Pacific softball team logged a lot of miles over spring break, traveling to southern California for the SunWest Tournament early last week and then making the trek up to Tacoma, Wash., for a Northwest Conference doubleheader with Puget Sound on Sunday.

All totaled, the world-weary Boxers racked up nearly 2,500 miles in a little over a week.

The long hours spent on planes and buses were worth it, however, as the Boxers went 3-1 at the SunWest Tournament, then swept Puget Sound on Sunday to improve their record to 12-6 (4-4 NWC). Pacific also split a non-conference series against Cal Lutheran last Monday.

'Winning four of six games against some very tough competition was a definite step forward for our program,' said Pacific head coach Tim Hill. 'Getting positive contributions from all 16 players certainly helped our cause.'

Sunday's sweep of Puget Sound was another step forward, as it got the Boxers back to .500 in conference play.

Freshman Miranda McNealy pitched a gem in the opener - a 5-0 Pacific victory - scattering four hits over seven innings while striking out seven. It was McNealy's third strong outing of the week, helping her land Pitcher of the Week honors in the Northwest Conference.

McNealy got all the run support she needed in the first inning of Game 1.

The Boxers scored four runs off a triple by Kelly Nishitomi, a two-run double by Brooke Fogwell and an RBI groundout. Caitlin Mastenbroek scored on a wild pitch in the fifth to give Pacific its 5-0 margin of victory.

In the nightcap, a 4-1 Pacific victory, Amy Walters provided the bulk of the Boxers' offense. The sophomore scored a run in the second inning on a Puget Sound error and scored again in the fourth on a solo home run, her second of the season. Mastenbroek knocked in the Boxers' other two runs with a single that scored Nishitomi and Kristen Croxford.

Andrea Bansen picked up the win on the mound, allowing one run and two hits over 4 2/3 innings. McNealy came on in the fifth and retired the potential go-ahead run before closing things out for her first save of the season.

'It was probably our best back-to-back games of the season,' Hill said of the Puget Sound series. 'We had excellent pitching, solid defense and timely hitting - all the ingredients for a successful day.'

The Boxers must hit the road one more time before settling in at Hillsboro Stadium for four straight home doubleheaders. Pacific travels to George Fox on Friday, then plays host to Lewis and Clark on Saturday.