REDDING, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific completed a perfect six-game sweep through the Simpson Tournament, including an 8-4 upset over defending NAIA champion and currently top-ranked Oregon Tech Saturday afternoon in Redding.
The win over Oregon Tech came between two more wins, a 6-0 shutout over Northwest Christian (Ore.) to start the day’s action, and a 6-4 victory over Concordia (Ore.), and it took another balanced effort that featured a new set of stars that helped lift the No. 11-ranked Cougars to their best start since going 10-1 to start the 2005 campaign.
“There’s not a good enough adjective to say how proud our entire coaching staff is of this group,” Cougar head coach Carrie Webber said. “It was wonderful to see them continually fight and be confident in their play, and to do the small things that allow you to stay in ballgames and win them. That was a big hurdle for our team and program as far as a level of maturity.”
Junior outfielder Brandi Andrews hit a full-count, two-out, three-run home run to give Azusa Pacific the early first-inning lead over Oregon Tech, which promptly trimmed the margin to 3-2 with a two-run homer of its own in the bottom of the first. Junior outfielder Rachel Miller’s solo shot to lead off the second inning pushed the lead to 4-2, but the Owls rallied to tie it at 4-4 in the bottom of the second.
Junior pitcher Mariah Worley, who struck out eight in a complete-game shutout in the first game of the day, came on in relief of Rita Kim after the first two innings against Oregon Tech. Worley fired another five innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out six more while allowing the Cougars to go back in front with a four-run seventh.
In the final game, junior outfielder Heather Koch’s RBI triple in the top of the seventh broke a 4-4 tie that led Azusa Pacific to a 6-4 win over Concordia (Ore.). Taryn Devich and Kim shared the pitching duties in the victory.
“The beauty of what we saw this weekend is that we’re nowhere near the peak we hope to reach at the end of the year,” Webber said. “We still have a lot of work to do, because we made a lot of errors, both physical and mental. That’s encouraging to know as a coach, that even though we won some big ballgames, we’re not even close to playing to our potential. If we keep working hard and trying to get better, hopefully we can hit that peak by the end of the year.”
Official stats for the weekend tournament have not been made available. The Cougars visit La Verne for a single game on Wednesday, Feb. 15, before returning home for eight of its next nine matchups, starting with a Thursday, Feb. 16 doubleheader with Colorado Christian.