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Cougars Take A Step Forward

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Photo by Joe Reinsch
Senior leftfielder Heather Koch was 4-for-6 while driving in four of Azusa Pacific's nine runs in the game.

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February 2, 2013
Joe Reinsch
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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific got its offense going early in both games of a doubleheader at Cal State San Bernardino, picking up a split with a 6-4 extra-inning win in the opener before dropping the second game, 5-3.

“We hit the ball well and some of them should have dropped, but Cal State made great plays,” Cougar head coach Carrie Webber said. "Those are the things that happen in the game of softball. As long as we continue to get better and pound the ball, things will start to drop and go our way.”

Senior leftfielder Heather Koch scored the game-winning run in the first game after she drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a costly Coyotes error in the eighth inning. After Koch scored on a wild pitch that gave the Cougars a 7-6 lead, senior designated player Rita Kim knocked in an insurance run with a two-out single to give Azusa Pacific a two-run cushion.

Freshman pitcher Narissa Garcia went the final 1.2 innings, striking out Alyssa Ramos with one runner on base to end the game and pick up her first collegiate victory after getting the Cougars out of trouble an inning earlier, as well. Garcia entered a tie game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and third and one out, and she struck out the first batter she faced before getting out of the frame with a groundout.

The Cougars never trailed in the opener, and senior centerfielder Angie Sprague helped get the offense going early with a leadoff double in the top of the first. She later scored on senior rightfielder Brandi Andrews’s one-out double to left field for an early 1-0 lead. Cal State tied it an inning later, but Koch delivered a two-run, two-out single in the third inning to push the lead to 3-1. After the Coyotes tied the game at 3-3 with two runs in the fifth inning, Azusa Pacific benefited from two walks, a wild pitch, and a passed ball in the sixth inning to plate another run and go back in front, 4-3.

“We definitely came out today looking a lot better than we did yesterday, and I think that will continue to be how we’ll progress throughout the year,” Webber said. “They definitely took the steps forward that we wanted them to take, and they still have things we need to work on.”

In the second game, Koch went three-for-four with a two-run double which capped a three-run first inning. Cal State San Bernardino immediately trimmed the margin to 3-2 on consecutive run-producing hits with two outs in the bottom of the first, and the Coyotes tacked on three more in the second inning. Charlotte Galzote’s two-run double in the second gave San Bernardino the lead for good, and four different pitchers combined to keep Azusa Pacific scoreless the rest of the afternoon.

The Cougars hit safely in all seven innings, including a two-out Koch single with the game on the line in the top of the seventh, but Azusa Pacific finished with 10 runners left on base, including nine who were stranded over the final six innings of the 6-4 defeat.

Garcia started the game and settled down to retire eight of the nine batters she faced after giving up five early runs in the first two innings. Senior pitcher Taryn Devich fired two scoreless innings of relief in the nightcap, allowing one hit while striking out one. Senior catcher Jac Harkey went three-for-three with a sixth-inning leadoff double, but she was stranded at third base in that inning.

With the split, Azusa Pacific is now 1-2 to start the 2013 season, while Cal State San Bernardino is now 1-1 on the year.

“As long as we continue to progress throughout the season and we peak towards the end, then I’m okay with this type of start,” Webber said. “We’re optimistic right now as we try to get better day by day.”

The Cougars host the Peruvian National Team for an exhibition doubleheader on Wednesday, Feb. 6, before traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., for next week’s Desert Stinger Tournament hosted by Montana State Billings on Feb. 8-9.