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February 1, 2003
Gary Pine
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MODESTO, Calif. – Azusa Pacific opened the 2003 season in a rather satisfying way, winning 2 of its first 3 games in the Best In The West Tournament at Rainbow Fields in Modesto, Calif. The Cougars opened the tourney with a 3-1 victory over GSAC rival California Baptist. They then fell to NCAA Division II power UC Davis, 8-0, in 6 innings before finishing the evening with another 3-1 victory, this one over DII power Chico State.

Though she gladly welcomed help from her teammates, Megan Alkire really didn’t need any as she single-handedly beat California Baptist and for the second straight year picked up the Cougars’ first victory of the season. The sophomore pitcher scattered 3 hits over 7 innings and struck out 3 Lancers to hold the CBU offense in check. At the plate, Alkire provided all the offense needed. Her 2-out, third-inning infield single scored Holly Downard from third and Cassie Lakey from second to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish. She then scored an insurance run when All-GSAC Jennie Waleszonia laced a triple down the leftfield line to score Alkire from third base to put the Cougars up 3-0 after 5 innings. Alkire finished the game 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.

In the second game, UC Davis strung together 6 consecutive singles in the fourth inning to chase Cougar pitcher Nicole Hendrix and break open a scoreless game. In the following inning, the Aggies collected another 6 hits, including a double, off freshman Kris Franks to finish the game off with 2 outs in the bottom of the fifth. The Cougars managed just 1 hit, a Sasha Budde fifth-inning single.

In the final game of the night, freshman Cassi Sweeney wasted little time stepping to the forefront as a collegiate rookie by going 2-for-3 against Chico State, with a run scored and an RBI. After the Wildcats scored an unearned run to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the fifth, Sweeney led off the bottom half of the inning with a single to left. She then stole second base and third base to set up Trisha Rico, who doubled to centerfield to send Sweeney home with the go-ahead run. In the sixth, Sweeney singled home Rachel Yoshizu with an insurance run. The rest was up to Rachel Akire, Megan’s twin and pitching mate. Rachel struck out 4 while surrendering just 4 hits in 7 innings of work.

Azusa Pacific continues tournament play on Sunday with single games against Notre Dame de Namur and Humboldt State.