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Coming Up Clutch

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Renae Chappelle's first career home run was a seventh-inning game-tying solo shot that set up the Cougars' walk-off victory that completed Tuesday's doubleheader sweep over Hawai`i Pacific.

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Published
February 18, 2014
By
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Renae Chappelle hit her first career home run with the game on the line, and Katrina Oviedo completed the seventh-inning rally for Azusa Pacific's high-powered offense with a walk-off single that completed a Tuesday doubleheader sweep with 8-3 and 10-9 wins, and a Pacific West Conference series win over Hawai`i Pacific following a Monday split.

The Cougars generated 18 runs on 28 hits on the day, scoring six in the first inning of the opener to set the tone for the night before Chappelle and Oviedo provided the late-game dramatics to close out the conference-opening four-game series.

“At the end of the second game yesterday, we told the team that our loss was something we could learn from,” Azusa Pacific head coach Carrie Webber said. “Today the team realized that it needed to make adjustments earlier, and it was a learning experience for us yesterday. I was very proud of them for making the adjustments they knew they needed to make, because It showed growth and maturity at such an early point in the season.”

Hawai`i Pacific took a 9-8 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but Chappelle drilled a 1-0 pitch deep down the left field line, dropping it just beyond the fence and inside the foul pole for a game-tying solo home run to lead off the seventh.

“I was hoping I could just get on base so somebody could move me in. I didn’t think it was going out until I got close to second base and saw it go over the fence,” Chappelle said.

Junior shortstop Desiree Chavez laid down a bunt single and moved into scoring position on Abry Moreno's sacrifice bunt. That brought Oviedo to the plate, and she drove the first pitch she saw into the gap in left-center field to bring Chavez around to score easily on the walk-off single.

“I was focused on getting on base for the team, so I was really trying making sure I didn’t try to do too much,” Oviedo said. “I looked for something inside because she had consistently been going there with the first pitch since yesterday, and I got what I was I looking for.”

Oviedo and Chavez each tallied three hits in the second game, while junior leftfielder Sona Babayan was a perfect four-for-four, and Babayan and Chavez were two of five Cougars with a pair of hits in the 8-3 opening-game win, as well.

“The returning juniors are really making the effort to step up and lead a very young team,” Webber said. “I think it’s been very challenging for them, but I think they’re starting to feel more comfortable with that leadership role.”

In the opener, Azusa Pacific sent 10 batters to the plate in the opening frame, scoring all six of its runs in the first with two outs. Sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez got the scoring started with an RBI double, which was the first of six consecutive hitters to reach safely.

Junior pitcher Destinee Levesque picked up the pitching decisions in both games, going five innings in the opening-game start before picking up the victory in relief with a three-strikeout inning in the seventh to keep the Cougars within a run.

With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 12-3 overall and 3-1 in PacWest play heading into Saturday's visit to No. 23-ranked Dixie State (Utah). Hawai`i Pacific, which had its first four matchups of the season all rained out before finally opening its season with this week's PacWest-opening series, falls to 1-3 to start the year.