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Pitching Cashes In For Saturday Sweep

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Photo by Joe Reinsch
Narissa Garcia threw a complete-game for the win in Azusa Pacific's 4-1 victory over Chadron State Saturday at the Desert Stinger tournament.

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February 8, 2014
Joe Reinsch
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Azusa Pacific bounced back from two defeats Friday with a pair of wins Saturday afternoon, thanks to a solid all-around pitching performance which included sophomore Narissa Garcia’s complete-game victory over Chadron State (Neb.). Junior Destinee Levesque closed out the busy day with another complete-game win over Northwest Nazarene (Idaho).

Garcia struck out five, all in the first four innings, in the 4-1 win, and she delivered six consecutive scoreless frames after allowing a solo home run in the bottom of the first. She scattered five hits and walked only one, and she didn’t allow more than one baserunner in any inning of the victory.

Levesque overpowered the Crusader lineup, striking out 10 after surrendering two walks and a two-run home run in the first inning. She didn’t give up another run the rest of the way, scattering three hits over the next six shutout frames to collect the win.

Earlier in the day, Azusa Pacific defeated Regis (Colo.) University, 3-1, as freshman Carly Xepoleas threw four innings and gave up one run on four hits with three strikeouts to pick up her second win of the season. Levesque finished off the game with three shutout frames to earn the save.

Regis scored first in the opener, pushing across a run in the second inning, but Jessica Melcher lined a two-run home run over the right-field fence in the top of the fourth inning to give the Cougars a 2-1 edge. It was Melcher’s second home run in as many days, and she led off the top of the sixth inning with a base hit to left that led to an insurance run that inning.

Against Chadron State, junior leftfielder Desiree Chavez led off with an infield hit, stole second, advanced to third and scored on consecutive wild pitches to give Azusa Pacific the early lead. Junior centerfielder Sona Babayan drove in freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague with a two-out single, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

After Shea Graham cut the lead in half with a solo home run to straightaway center in the bottom of the first, the Cougars added single runs in the second and third innings to take a 4-1 lead. Azusa Pacific had four players with multiple hits in the game, led by Sprague’s three-for-four, two-run effort.

In the third game of the day, junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo sparked the Cougar offense in the top of the first when she smacked her first career home run to straightaway center field for an early 1-0 lead.

Although it was answered by Northwest Nazarene’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first, Azusa Pacific took the lead for good in the top of the third when sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez put a charge into an 0-2 pitch with one out and runners on first and second. The shot from Hernandez slammed off the scoreboard in left-center field for a three-run home run and a 4-2 Cougar lead. Renae Chappelle scored an insurance run in the fourth when she rounded third and scored on Oviedo’s one-out infield hit.

With three wins on Saturday, Azusa Pacific is now 5-2 on the season, and the Cougars are home for six of the seven remaining February doubleheaders on the schedule, starting with non-conference matchups against La Sierra (Feb. 14) and Biola (Feb. 15). A Pacific West Conference-opening four-game series against Hawai‘i Pacific is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 17-18.