Vlahovich Pitches Wildcats Into Gold Bracket at Tournament of ChampionsPosted: Updated:
TURLOCK, Calif - Central Washington junior Linse Vlahovich pitched two complete-game victories, helping lead the Wildcats to a 2-1 record on day two of the Tournament of Champions, presented by Mizuno, at Pedretti Park.
With its two wins, Central finished in a three-way tie atop the Pool D standings and will advance to the gold bracket portion of the tournament play on Sunday. The Wildcats, 12-15 overall, take on tournament host Cal State Stanislaus in the first game of a single-elimination bracket format at 11:15 a.m.
Vlahovich (7-8) combined to throw 242 pitches over 14 innings of work on Saturday, including her first shutout of the season in the Wildcats' 7-0 win over Chico State. In that contest, she allowed just four hits -- all singles -- while striking out six and not walking a batter. The CWU offense also gave her plenty of support, with the assistance of five Chico errors. Junior Holly Rossman (Olympia, Wash./Black Hills HS) had the first of her two home runs on the day with a two-run blast to left field, driving home senior Mallory Holtman (White Salmon, Wash./Columbia HS), who had tripled, in the process.
Central finished with just six hits against Chico State, accounting for four unearned runs. Rossman had two hits and a pair of RBI to lead a balanced offensive effort.
In the day's second game against Sonoma State, the Wildcats scored the game's first run after three straight two-out singles in the first, but the Seawolves then scored nine unanswered runs against two Central Washington pitchers to carry a 9-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. CWU scratched together for four runs in its final at-bat with four hits and an error, and both Jackie Hawkins (Olympia, Wash./North Thurston HS) and Holtman had run-scoring doubles in the inning. Holtman's two-bagger plated a pair of runs.
The Wildcats finished with a 10-8 hits advantage over Sonoma State, but five of those came in the first two innings and the other five in the final three frames. Hawkins, who doubled and tripled in the game, had two hits, as did Holtman, while six others had one hit each. CWU pitchers Katy Jones (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS) and Katriina Reime (Hoquiam, Wash.) combined to surrender seven earned runs and four walks with eight strikeouts.
In the finale, with its bracket seeding contingent on the game's outcome, Vlahovich overcame a rough first inning to earn her second pitching win of the day. She was spotted an early 2-0 lead after Holtman and Rossman hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning, with Holtman's shot being the 34th of her career to set a new Great Northwest Athletic Conference record. Vlahovich gave up her first home run of the year to Kendra Wood in the bottom of the first, however, as the Gators tied the game at 2-2.
Central Washington scored three runs on four hits in the top of the third inning to chase SFSU starter Vanessa Truan from the contest. Logan Mohr (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Bainbridge HS) and Liz Wallace (Florence, Mont./Florence-Carlton HS) each had run-scoring singles in the inning, while Kayla Jayne (Snoqualmie, Wash./Mount Si HS) also drove in a run with a groundout.
The lead remained intact for the Wildcats, although San Francisco State chipped away with single tallies in the fourth and sixth innings. Each time, however, Vlahovich and CWU escaped as a double play ended the Gators' fourth-inning rally and a bases-loaded fielder's choice and strikeout finished off the sixth-inning effort. Then, in the bottom of the seventh with the potential tying run on third and two out, Vlahovich struck out Wood for her ninth K of the game to preserve the Wildcats' win.
Vlahovich fanned nine Gators while walking five. She threw 136 pitches and gave up six hits, including the first two home runs of the season. Offensively, Rossman and Mohr had two hits apiece as Central Washington finished with an 8-6 edge in safeties.
As a result of its games on Saturday, combined with other scores within its pool, Central Washington earned the top seed out of Pool D thanks to the tournament's tie-breaking policy. The Wildcats, Seattle University, and Western Oregon all finished with 2-3 record in their pool, while Western Washington was 1-4. As a result of the tie-breaker, Central Washington will make its first-ever gold bracket appearance in the seven-year history of the tournament on Sunday.