The duo hurlers dominated Hope International all day long, leading Azusa Pacific to a pair of much-needed Golden State Athletic Conference victories, 4-0 and 8-0, and in the process they came within 2 outs of one of the most unique achievements ever in Azusa Pacific softball history – back-to-back no-hitters.
Initiated by Devich and continued by Kim, the pair held Hope International without a hit for 11.1 innings of play, employing an effort in the circle that nearly matched the picture-perfect weather Friday afternoon at the Cougar Softball Complex.
Devich, who has emerged as the ace of a pitching staff that centers around 3 freshmen, became just the ninth Cougar ever to toss a no-hitter and only the fourth to make it a 7-inning gem as she relied on a trio of pitches that kept HIU off balance and guessing the entire game. She struck out 6 of the first 9 Royals she faced and had a perfect game going through 4 innings of work. A couple of walks in the fifth inning, including one to start the frame, were her only blemishes on an otherwise fantastic effort in the circle.
She retired the final 7 batters of the game, finishing off the first no-hitter by a Cougar in 5 years when she got Royal Alexis Alonzo to ground out to shortstop Erin Halma. Devich finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts and ran her record to 12-8 while lowering her ERA to a team-best 1.40. Of the 11 Royals who made bat contact on the day, 7 flew out and 4 grounded out.
The Cougars offered Devich all the offense she needed in the opening inning of the game. Halma’s 1-out sacrifice fly to centerfield scored Angie Sprague who opened the inning with a bunt single, stole second and went to third on a Nicole Llorens’s sacrifice bunt.
The Cougars tacked on 2 more runs in the second when freshman Rachel Miller launched a 2-out missile over the leftfield fence for her team-leading third home run of the season.
In the third, Halma laced a 1-out triple to the wall in right-centerfield and then trotted home on Bekah Weisser’s sacrifice fly to close out the game’s scoring.
HIU’s Kayla Uphold came on in relief and fired 3.1 innings of 1-hit shutout softball, retiring 9 Cougars in a row at one point, but it was too late. Azusa Pacific had already made the most of 4 hits through the first 3 innings of the game.
In the second game, Kim was dominant from the outset, inducing a game-opening comebacker and fly out before striking out the next 7 Royals in a row. In fact, she retired the first 13 batters of the game, fashioning a perfect game until Leslie Coffee ripped a 1-0 Kim offering back up the middle for a single to center. It would prove to be the Royals’ only hit in 12 innings of play on the day. Kim finished with 8 strikeouts in her 1-hitter and pushed her record to 7-9 in the process.
Offensively, the Cougars tagged a pair of Royal pitchers, including Uphold, for runs in each of the first 3 innings, scooting out to an 8-0 lead that was highlighted by a 4-run third. Triples by Erika Marmolejo and Jac Harkey accounted for 3 runs in the inning. Miller then pushed Sprague home with a 2-out single to give Azusa Pacific that needed 8-run cushion to force the mercy-ruled victory.
Halma, the lone senior on the team who was playing in her 173rd game at Azusa Pacific, capped her final day at the Cougar Softball Complex with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate with 3 RBIs and raised her team-leading batting average to .336. Sprague was 3-for-5 with 4 runs and a pair of stolen bases. Miller was 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs, while Natalie Barnaby went 3-for-4 with 3 runs.
With the sweep the Cougars improve to 26-20 on the season and even their GSAC record at 11-11. Azusa Pacific closes out the regular-season Saturday (April 24) with a GSAC doubleheader at Point Loma Nazarene University. First pitch is set for noon. The game can be followed live through a live stats broadcast over the Internet.