CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Sophomore Brandi Andrews’ first collegiate home run and Rita Kim’s ability to continually bounce back allowed Azusa Pacific to escape with a doubleheader split at Claremont-Scripps Saturday afternoon.
The Athenas took the first game, 3-2, before Andrews’ heroics led Azusa Pacific to a 4-2 decision in the nightcap.
Andrews, who swung a powerful bat in high school but struggled last year in her collegiate debut season, cranked her first home run as a Cougar, a 2-out, 2-run blast in the seventh inning to cap a 3-run frame and give Azusa Pacific the second-game verdict.
Claremont-Scripps was one out away from its first-ever sweep of Azusa Pacific. However, Erika Marmolejo, who produced the only other Cougar noise in the game with a second-inning solo home run, knotted the game at 2-2 when she laced a 2-out double off Athena reliever Amanda Banducci to score Olivia Wilcox from second base.
Andrews, the very next batter and who was hitless in 5 previous at-bats this season and hadn’t hit a home run 56 plate appearances at Azusa Pacific, ended both droughts by lifting her first collegiate home run, scoring Marmolejo ahead of her.
The rest was up to Kim, who in Friday’s season-debut against La Verne couldn’t get out of the second inning and again today struggled through the first 4 innings, giving up 2 runs and 6 hits while stranding 5 runners in scoring position. Yet, the sophomore fireballer found her stride in the second half of the game, retiring the final 10 Athenas and striking out 5 in the process to finish the game with 11 punch-outs, just 1 shy of her career-high.
Azusa Pacific seemingly had a flare for the dramatic all day. As they did in the second game, the Cougars entered the seventh inning of the first game down 2-1, but sophomore shortstop Rachel Miller led off the inning with the Cougars’ first home run of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
However, in the bottom half of the frame Claremont-Scripps used back-to-back hits to push across an unearned run with no outs and post its first win over Azusa Pacific since 1999.
Marmolejo finished the day 3-for-6 with a double, a home run and 3 RBIs. Likewise, Miller was 3-for-6 with a couple of doubles and 2 runs scored.
With the split, Azusa Pacific’s record moves to 3-1. The Cougars step up the competition next week, moving from this past week’s NCAA Division III foes to NCAA Division II Cal State San Bernardino, which Azusa Pacific hosts in a 5 p.m. doubleheader on Friday (Feb. 4).