AZUSA, Calif. -- Complete-game pitching performances from Destinee Levesque and Carly Xepoleas led Azusa Pacific to its second Pacific West Conference doubleheader sweep of the year, its first since Feb. 18, as the Cougars posted 3-1 and 8-0 victories over Chaminade Wednesday evening to open the four-game series between the teams.
The sweep snapped a run of seven consecutive PacWest splits, and the complete-game efforts of Levesque and Xepoleas marked the first time Azusa Pacific has put together two complete games in a conference doubleheader this year.
“The mental focus we had for both games today was good, and I would like to continue to see that as we go through the rest of this week,” head coach Carrie Webber said.
Levesque took a two-hit shutout into the seventh inning of the first game, and the Silverswords scored their only run of the day with two outs in the seventh for the final 3-1 margin. The complete-game win was Levesque’s second of the year, and the junior righthander finished with eight strikeouts as she improved to 7-4 on the year.
In the nightcap, Xepoleas scattered four hits and two walks around one strikeout as the Cougars exploded for five runs in the third inning and ended the game with a three-run fifth for the 8-0 mercy-rule win. The freshman southpaw now has three shutouts this year along with a team-high nine wins as she improved to 9-3.
“The pitchers have been working hard to be consistent on the mound, and they did a great job today to keep us in the ballgame and allow only one run in 12 innings,” Webber said. “The pitchers were able to pitch themselves out of innings today, and that also helps us to leave us with one more pitcher our opponent hasn’t seen that we can use tomorrow.”
Junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo started and finished the day’s scoring, hitting a leadoff double and scoring the first run of the opener in the fourth inning before her two-out, bases-loaded single in the fifth inning of the nightcap pushed the lead to 8-0 to end a mercy-rule win. She led off the fourth inning of the opener with a double to center field, which was the first of four consecutive hits in a two-run inning, and she was five-for-six on the day, going two-for-three in the opener and three-for-three with a walk in the second game.
After Oviedo led off with a double to straightaway center field in the fourth inning, the next three Cougar hitters each collected hits, as well, resulting in a 2-0 Cougar lead. An inning later, freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague hit a two-out double off the top of the fence in right-center field that drove in an insurance run that made it 3-0. Chaminade put runners at the corners with one out in the seventh inning, and a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop brought in one run before Levesque induced another groundout to end the game.
“We’ve been trying to break the split curse for a while now, and it was nice to come out and get the first game and take that focus into the second game,” Webber said. “We put a little pressure on the other team and got some hits to fall, so it was nice to win and win in a good fashion. Hopefully we continue that focus and intensity into tomorrow.”
After a couple scoreless innings in the second game, Sprague drove in the first run of the game with a one-out RBI single. The next three hitters each laid down run-scoring bunts, first on back-to-back fielder’s choice sacrifices before sophomore first baseman Jessica Melcher put down a bunt single to the pitcher that helped the Cougars to a five-run frame.
After Xepoleas tossed two more shutout innings, sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez led off the fifth with a double off the wall in left field. She scored to make it 6-0 on an infield grounder that resulted in an error, and a two-out single from junior shortstop Desiree Chavez scored another run to bring the Cougars within a run of the mercy-rule victory.
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 24-11 overall and 12-8 in PacWest play, while Chaminade falls to 7-15 overall and 6-12 PacWest. The teams meet again for another doubleheader Thursday to complete a four-game PacWest series.