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Record-breaking season ends with losses to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Linfield in NCAA regional

SETH GORDON - Kimi Ito safely slides into home during George Fox's 6-3 loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the opening game of the NCAA Division III Regional at Linfield Friday. The Bruins were then bounced from the postseason in a 9-1 loss to the rival Wildcats Saturday.

McMINNVILLE -- Digging itself early holes in games versus Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Linfield, the George Fox softball team never found its groove Friday and Saturday and bowed out of the NCAA Division III regional following 6-3 and 9-1 losses, respectively.

The No. 12 Bruins fell behind 4-0 after one inning in Friday's opener versus the Athenas and starter Madison Sorenson gave up a solo home run in the fifth to make it 5-0 before GFU got on the board with a two-run double from Alyssa Gonzalez.

The rival Wildcats scored once in the bottom of the first in Saturday's do-or-die game for George Fox, then added four more in the bottom of the second to pull ahead 5-1. The Bruins managed just three hits, one a solo home run from Kimi Ito in the top of the second, off starter Shelby Saylors and also committed three errors on defense.

"It is tough coming back, especially against good competition," GFU coach Jessica Hollen said. "I never count my team out, but obviously we made the road very tough for ourselves this weekend."

George Fox (35-11) led the nation in home runs per game this season, set a new school record for wins and tied with Linfield for the Northwest Conference regular season title, so the quick exit was a bitter pill to swallow.

"It doesn't feel good right now because we didn't end with our best games. We didn't play our best this weekend," Hollen said. "At the same time, we faced two great teams that did a good job. We tip our caps to them. They both played very well. It wasn't our best softball and that stings, but at the same time you can't look back at the season with any shame. I'm very, very proud of this group."

Gonzalez and Ito were named to the all-tournament team for their performances, which included a three-for-three effort by Gonzalez against CMS.

The Bruins will bid farewell to a large and successful senior class that includes its top two pitchers in Sorenson and Abbie Begerson, Ito and all-NWC shortstop Rebecca Pridmore.

"It's hard to be excited about it right now because the sting of this is fresh," Hollen said. "But this senior group is all over our record books, has been in two NCAA postseasons and had a ton to do with that. This group is awesome. I can't be more proud of them. It stings because of how it ended, but it's absolutely something that we can be proud of."

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