AZUSA, Calif.-- Azusa Pacific swept Cornerstone University from Michigan in Friday afternoon’s nonconference doubleheader at the Cougar Softball Complex with scores of 8-0 and 2-1. The Cougars started with 5 strong innings of play, scoring 8 runs before the game was called due to the mercy rule.
Freshman Jac Harkey helped give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead after blasting a single up the middle in the second inning of the opener and scored off a throwing error from the Golden Eagles’ catcher, Melanie Creager. Sophomore Erika Marmolejo’s 2-out single up the middle scored Halma from third to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead through 3 innings of play.
Senior Erin Halma kept the Golden Eagles scoreless by pitching an almost perfect game, giving up just 1 hit in 5 innings with 4 strikeouts.
“I just wanted to focus on making sure we get quick outs so we can get back in the dugout and be able to hit the ball and get ahead early in the game,” said Halma. “I was just focusing on getting each out quickly.”
The flood gates opened for the Cougars in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Leslie-Anne Picone singled to left center and 2 wild pitches advanced her to third base. After freshman Heather Koch walked, freshman Angie Sprague slapped a come-backer to Cornerstone pitcher Madison Bucilla who threw the ball away, allowing Picone and Koch to score while putting Sprague on third.
A fielder’s choice placed Halma on first and scored Sprague to give the Cougars a 5-0 lead with only 1 out. Junior Nicole Llorens doubled with 2 outs, sending Halma in for the score.
Picone blasted a bases loaded 2-out single that scored Llorens and Harkey, to finish the 6-run inning, making the score 8-0 in favor of the Cougars. Halma struck out Golden Eagle Dinah Gruppen in the top of the fifth to seal the win for the Cougars.
“We knew that they weren’t as strong as some of the people we’ve been playing so we just wanted to be consistent at the plate and score some runs,” said head coach Carrie Webber. “We did in the first game, but not so much in the second game.”
In the nightcap, the Cougars did not let their momentum from the first game carry over, allowing the game to go to extra innings tied at 1-1.
“There can be a let-down after a game like the first one,” said Webber. “We didn’t do a very good job of staying up, staying in the game and making the adjustments.”
Marmolejo, who went 2-for-4 in the doubleheader, smacked a home run over the left field fence giving the Cougars an early 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Freshman Rita Kim started in the circle for the Cougars and pitched 4 innings of no-hit softball while collecting 4 strikeouts. Sophomore Carissa Piper relieved Kim, but gave up a run in the 2 innings she pitched, allowing the Golden Eagles to tie the game in the sixth.
Freshman Taryn Devich closed the game for the Cougars, striking out 3 batters in 2 innings with no runs allowed.
In the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Cornerstone pitcher Kaycee Kuiper walked Llorens to push Barnaby across, giving the Cougars the 2-1 win.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 10-8 overall. Cornerstone drops to 0-4 overall. The Cougars will face NAIA’s No. 1-ranked California Baptist Saturday at 10 a.m. in Riverside.
“We got to see some live pitching which is always nice, but we’re ready for Cal Baptist,” said Webber. “We understand that they are No. 1, so technically, we’re the underdogs. We know that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Azusa Pacific returns home Thursday, March 11 at 4 p.m. to host Bethany University.