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Cougars Wrap Bay Area Trip With Win

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Freshman Nicki Sprague went two-for-four with two runs in Azusa Pacific's 4-2 win Saturday at Notre Dame de Namur, securing a series split after the Cougars dropped the opening game of the day.

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March 15, 2014
Joe Reinsch
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BELMONT, Calif. -- After an uncharacteristic mercy-rule defeat in Saturday’s opener, Azusa Pacific picked up another split by claiming a 4-2 win over Notre Dame de Namur. With the doubleheader split, the Cougars also salvaged a split of their six-game Bay Area road trip.

The 3-3 road trip brought Azusa Pacific to 21-10 overall and 10-8 in the PacWest, while Notre Dame de Namur went to 14-16 overall, 8-9 PacWest.

“Overall the trip didn’t go exactly the way we expected,” head coach Carrie Webber said. “We had a rough stretch here, and it seemed like we just hit a midseason lull. We have to find a way to jumpstart ourselves, because this was not a weekend where we played very well at all.”

Azusa Pacific was held to just three hits in the opener, and Notre Dame de Namur starter Jenna Bassler walked three more with one strikeout. Still, she was able to keep the Cougars off the scoreboard for the five-inning shutout. The Cougars left six on base, although none of them advanced past second base.

NDNU got its first run just three batters into the first inning when Breanna Young hit an RBI double that cashed in a one-out walk issued by sophomore pitcher Narissa Garcia. Garcia struck out four in the first two innings, but she gave up a leadoff single in the third and left the game after issuing another one-out walk. The next four Argonauts all reached safely against reliever Destinee Levesque, resulting in a five-run inning that pushed the NDNU lead to 6-0. After the Argonauts added two more runs on two hits and a hit-by-pitch in the fourth, they closed out the mercy-rule win by holding Azusa Pacific to a scoreless fifth.

In the second game, freshman pitcher Carly Xepoleas took a shutout into the seventh inning, and she was one out away from keeping the Argonauts scoreless until a two-out error allowed a pair of unearned runs for the final 4-2 tally. Azusa Pacific bounced back into form offensively, as four different hitters collected two hits each.

Freshman second baseman Nicki Sprague, who was held hitless for just the fourth time this year in the opener, came back to go two-for-four with two runs. With the game still scoreless after four innings, it was Sprague who led off the fifth with a double and scored the game’s first run on another double from sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez. Junior centerfielder Renae Chappelle added a two-run, two-out single that made it a three-run fifth, and the Cougars added an insurance run in the seventh after taking advantage of three consecutive NDNU errors to load the bases with no outs.

After Xepoleas registered the first two outs of the seventh, Kayla Anderson kept the Argonauts alive with a single, just the third hit allowed by Xepoleas. An error extended the frame, and Lindsay Handy broke up the shutout with a two-run double. Xepoleas handled a comebacker to extinguish the rally, finishing with a complete-game four-hitter with two walks and two strikeouts.

“Notre Dame de Namur had seen Carly quite a bit this weekend,” Webber said, “so I was pleased with the way she was able to keep us in the ballgame and finish out the trip on a positive note.”

Sprague, Hernandez, Chappelle, and freshman rightfielder Abry Moreno provided two hits each for Azusa Pacific’s 10-hit attack.

The Cougars return home for a non-conference doubleheader with Concordia on Thursday, March 20, before hosting three more PacWest doubleheaders on March 26, 27, and 29.