HILO, Hawai‘i -- For the second time this year, an extended layoff contributed to Azusa Pacific suffering a Pacific West Conference doubleheader sweep as the Cougars dropped the first two games of a 10-game road trip to Hawai‘i, 3-0 and 10-6, Friday afternoon in Hilo.
Azusa Pacific, which dropped a doubleheader at home to Holy Names to open PacWest play following a 12-day stretch between games in February, returned to the field for the first time since sweeping Dominican 11 days ago.
Hawai‘i Hilo pitcher Vanessa Salinas allowed just two hits in the opening-game shutout, lasting until two outs in the fourth inning before giving up Azusa Pacific’s first hit, which came from senior rightfielder Brandi Andrews. Meanwhile, Rita Kim stranded six Vulcans baserunners in the first four innings, running her scoreless-inning streak to 16 consecutive innings before Hawai‘i Hilo registered a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Vulcans added an insurance run in the sixth, pushing the lead to 3-0, and Madison Hernandez notched Azusa Pacific’s only other hit with of the game with her one-out single in the top of the seventh.
In the second game, Andrews hit a two-run single with two outs in the second inning to wrap up a four-run inning, but the Cougars had already given up six runs (five unearned) in the opening frame before Hawai‘i Hilo responded with a four-run second inning to take a 10-4 lead which it held until the seventh inning. With a runner on, Andrews registered a bunt single and came all the way around to score on an error to cut the lead to 10-6. However, Ashley Nelson pitched her way out of the seventh to preserve the victory and the sweep.
Worley fired 4.2 innings of one-hit shutout relief in the nightcap, striking out three. In addition to Andrews’ two-hit performance, which lifted her season batting average over .300, senior centerfielder Angie Sprague and sophomore leftfielder Sona Babayan also registered two hits each.
After the sweep, Azusa Pacific falls to 14-10 overall and 6-6 in PacWest play, while Hawai‘i Hilo improves to 21-13 overall and 12-4 in conference play. The Cougars continue the 10-game PacWest road trip to Hawai‘i with a Saturday doubleheader at Hilo before traveling to O‘ahu for doubleheaders next week against Chaminade (March 25), Hawai‘i Pacific (March 26), and BYU-Hawaii (March 28).