AZUSA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific learned first hand just how far it still has to go to become an elite program of the NAIA. The Cougars, who have been magnificent in turning around the fortunes of the program this year and battling tooth-and-nail just to crack the NAIA Top 25, got a clinic in what is the difference between a top-5 ranked team and someone ranked farther down the ladder.
The NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Point Loma Nazarene University came to the Canyon City and ran roughshod on the Cougars, out-scoring No. 21 Azusa Pacific a combined 19-1 for a key Golden State Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep Tuesday evening. The Sea Lions won the first game 8-0 and took the second 11-1 in a run-ruled contest.
What Azusa Pacific had hoped to be a battle for second-place in the GSAC turned into a back-woods whipping that gives Point Loma Nazarene a 3-game lead on Azusa Pacific for second-place in the conference.
In the opening game, all Sea Lion pitcher Tyler Lent needed was – Tyler Lent herself. The sophomore from of San Bernardino fired 6 innings of 5-hit shutout softball and at the plate cranked 2 home runs, including a solo monster shot to left field in the fifth inning that gave Point Loma Nazarene a 4-0 lead at the time. Later she highlighted a 4-run seventh inning with a 2-run home run down the left field line and finished the game 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.
The Sea Lions wasted no time getting to Cougar ace Camille Hundley. Amanda Addie led off the game with a single and came home when Erica Ricker immediately followed with a triple to right center. Mel Gomez produced a 1-out single that pushed Ricker home and gave the Sea Lions a quick 2-0.
Hundley settled down from there but the Addie-Ricker combo got to her again for a single run in the fifth inning to push the Sea Lion advantage to 3-0. Addie led off with another single up the middle and proceeded to steal second and third bases – she had 5 steals in the game – and then trotted home when Ricker doubled to left-center
Enter Lent, who was already in deep work on her seventh shutout of the season, but now opted to use her bat. In only her 24th at-bat of the season, she unloaded a bomb off a Hundley offering that ricocheted of the light post in left-center field. In the next inning, on her following at-bat, she laced a line shot down the left-field line off Cougar reliever Jeanette Murad to complete the Sea Lions’ 8-0 victory.
In the nightcap, Cougar pitcher Erin Halma held the Sea Lions’ at bat for 2 innings, but the Point Loma bats exploded for 5 runs in the third inning to take control of the game. Four consecutive singles to start the inning put PLNU up 1-0 with the bases loaded and nobody out. A fielder’s choice, a sacrifice fly and another single plated 4 more runs before the Cougars could get the second out.
Addie and Ricker, which had been wreaking havoc on Azusa Pacific pitching all night, keyed a 2-run fourth inning with Addie leading off with yet another single and coming home on a Ricker triple. Ricker then sprinted home on a grounder later in the inning.
Point Loma put the game on ice with 4 more runs in the fifth inning. Addie lined a bases-clearing double just inside the third-base bag to put PLNU up 10-1. She came home on a 1-out single to cap the night’s scoring.
Addie, who came into the game batting .421 on the season, went 8-for-9 on the night with 5 runs, 3 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. Ricker was 4-for-6 with 3 RBIs, 3 runs, 2 triples and a double.
Azusa Pacific’s only run of the night came on Jen Whitten’s third-inning double off the centerfield wall, sending Nicole Llorens home from first and cutting the Sea Lion lead to 5-1 at the time. Cassie Treischel, the Cougars’ leading hitter on the season at .333, enjoyed a good night at plate by going 3-for-6.
Point Loma, which runs it current winning streak over Azusa Pacific to 12 straight, moves to 31-7 on the season, 12-4 in the GSAC. Azusa Pacific falls to 19-20 overall, 9-7 in the GSAC.
Azusa Pacific continues a schedule through the teeth of the GSAC by visiting top-ranked California Baptist University Saturday (April 12) for a noon doubleheader in Riverside, Calif.