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Cougars Let One Slip

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March 10, 2008
Gary Pine
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AZUSA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific gave up 4 runs in the top of seventh to allow Dominican University to rally for an 8-7 victory and a split of a nonconference doubleheader Monday evening at the Cougar Softball Complex. The Cougars won the first game, 3-2, in 8 innings.

Azusa Pacific assumed what seemed to be a comfortable 7-4 lead in the fifth inning on Becca Weisser’s, 2-out, 2-run single to center that scored Erin Halma and Bethany Weisser.

However, with 1 out in the top of the seventh, the Penguins begin a rally that resulted in only their second victory over Azusa Pacific in 14 previous meetings. Jessica Talman’s bases-loaded single to center scored Amber Lara and Kait Manning to tie the game at 7-7. Shanen Markley then came home with the game-winning run on a wild pitch.

The Cougars put the tying run at second base with 1 out in the bottom of the seventh, but Domincan reliever Lesley Fay induced a pair of fly outs to end the game and preserve the comeback victory.

In the opening game, Halma was masterful through 7 innings of work in the circle, shutting out the Penguins on just 3 hits. However, the Cougars could not muster a counter offense against Dominican pitchers, and now forced to go to an eighth inning, Halma tired. A trio of Penguin singles and a Cougar error gave Dominican a 2-0 lead.

Azusa Pacific answered in the bottom of the inning, and in a rather dramatic fashion. With 1 out, Jen Whiten lifted a bases-loaded flare to shallow left to score Bethany Weisser and cut the Penguin lead in half. Freshman Nicole Llorens followed with the biggest hit of her young career, lining a 1-out double to right-centerfield off Fay to score Becca Weisser and Bailey Blazek and give the Cougars their first extra inning victory of the season.

The Cougars managed just 6 hits in the game, but 3 of them came in the eighth. Sophomore Sarah Moore picked up the victory in relief of Halma, quelling the Penguins’ eighth-inning uprising by getting 3 of the 4 batters she faced. For her time, Halma allowed just 1 earned run while striking out 2 and walking none in her 7-plus innings of work, her finest performance of the season.

In the 2 games combined, Whitten was 3-for-9 with a trio of RBIs. She had a pair of RBI singles in the second game, the first one giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead in the second, and the other giving Azusa Pacific a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Junior Natalie Mickelson had just 1 hit on the day, but it was her third home run of the season, a solo shot to left that tied the second game at 4-4 in the third.

With the split, Azusa Pacific moves to 9-10 on the season, while Dominican, which picks up its first win in a 10-game Southern California road-swing, is now 6-9.