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Reichard guides Pacific to split with George Fox

Forest Grove native Marissa Reichard picks up both wins over the weekend against the Bruins

Marissa Reichard’s sensational season continued last weekend, as the Pacific senior and former Forest Grove softball standout led the Boxers to both of their victories in a four-game split against George Fox.

Reichard pitched Pacific to a 7-4 win in the series opener on Saturday and also went 3-for-3 at the plate, and she twirled a masterful four-hit shutout in the first game on Sunday, a 6-0 Boxer victory, while adding two hits and an RBI.Nalani Antonio is congratulated by teammate Kylee Yamamoto (28) during Sunday's  NWC softball game against George Fox. The Boxers split a four-game series with the Bruins over the weekend.

The two wins in the circle improved Reichard to 13-5 this season and put the Boxers at 11-9 in Northwest Conference play, still stuck in a three-way tie for third place with George Fox and Pacific Lutheran.

With eight games left this season, Pacific is gunning for a top-four finish and a spot in the NWC playoffs, which begin on April 22 at the site of the regular season champion.

“The hope is to just keep winning,” said Reichard, a 2013 Forest Grove graduate and a first team all-NWC selection in two of her first three seasons at Pacific. “To win the next eight games and then get into the conference tournament, and then obviously the hope is to get first. I think that’s every team’s goal.”

Reichard certainly did her part to inch the Boxers closer to those goals, providing stellar pitching plus a little pop at the plate during last weekend’s series against George Fox.

In Saturday’s opener, she pitched out of a few jams and earned the win despite giving up eight hits and five walks, but it was the Pacific offense that stole the show. The Boxers had 14 hits and scored in four different innings to beat the Bruins 7-4.

Ashley Mitchell had an RBI single to open the scoring in the first, Reichard plated two runs with an infield single in the third, Quirena Natividad added an RBI base hit in the fifth and Kylee Yamamoto had a two-run double in the sixth.

George Fox got its revenge in the second game, with ace Madison Sorensen pitching six innings of scoreless ball and Amanda Woods launching a three-run home run in the fourth inning to key a 3-1 win.

Needing a spark in the third game of the series on Sunday afternoon, Reichard provided it with a dazzling pitching performance. She scattered four hits while striking out four and walking none in Pacific’s 6-0 shutout victory.

“Just getting ahead with the batters and just trying to get the first-pitch strike, hitting my spots — that always helps. I think those were the key things,” Reichard said. “And then the defense just backing me up on every play. They had so many good stops, so that was really key too.”

The Boxers scored three runs in the first inning, then blew things open in the fifth when Mitchell hit a leadoff home run, followed by RBI singles from Reichard and Rachel Roberts.

“Marissa threw a great game, we had good defense and everything kind of came together,” Pacific head coach Liz Yandall said. “We had 12 hits and no errors, so it’s always a good day when that happens.”

Reichard stepped into the pitcher’s circle one more time in the finale to try to lift the Boxers to the series victory, but George Fox catcher Courtney Howard hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to chase Reichard from the game. The Bruins went on to win 3-2 in extra innings when Woods hit a leadoff double in the eighth and came around to score on Annie Veatch’s RBI double.

Still, Pacific is in position to earn a NWC playoff bid if things break their way.

“We have two weekends of conference left, so I think we just really want to finish on a strong note and take a couple of those series and earn our way into the conference tournament,” Yandall said.

“It’s an emotional (season),” Reichard said of her senior campaign. “So I think just leaving it all on the field every game is what we’re aiming for. I think that’s our goal every game — not only to win, but leaving our hearts on the field.”