FULLERTON, Calif. –- Azusa Pacific won for the 12th time in the past 16 outings after taking a GSAC doubleheader from Hope International, downing the Royals, 3-0 and 8-1.
For the second time this season Azusa Pacific’s Nicole Hendrix fired a 4-hit shutout at Hope International as the Cougars took the first game. She got some shutout-preserving help in the first inning from Aurion Sanchez, who gunned down Katherine Nix at the plate.
Hendrix went on to strike out 5 and walk 3 in her complete-game effort that moved her record to 6-2 on the season.
The Cougars broke open a scoreless game in the fourth inning when Megan Alkire and Jennie Waleszonia led off with a double and single, respectively. Waleszonia then stole second base and when the throw got away into the outfield, Alkire trotted home from third with the game’s first run. Rachel Alkire then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score her sister, Megan, from third and give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Megan Carpenter led off the fifth inning with a double and advanced to third on Cassie Lakey’s ground out. Megan Alkire then flew out to left field to score Carpenter and cap the game’s scoring.
In the nightcap, Rachel Alkire’s 1-out double to left-center field scored Megan Alkire and Waleszonia to give Azusa Pacific a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Cougars then rolled back-to-back 3-run outbursts in the third and fourth innings to assume a comfortable 8-0 lead. Kris Franks’ double down the leftfield line plated Rachel Alkire and Waleszonia to highlight the third inning. Michelle Coleman’s single to right field sent Waleszonia and Jessica Mikesell home in the fourth inning.
As a pitcher, Coleman 2-hit the Royals, surrendering a pair of singles that both came in the fourth inning. She retired the first 9 batters she faced and then the final 10 of the game. Coleman struck out 4 and did not walk a batter. In 49 innings of work this season, Coleman has struck out 27 and walked a mere 4. With the victory she improves to a team-best 7-1 on the season.
Azusa Pacific collected 10 hits in the first game and 12 more in the second and has tallied 10 or more hits in a game 16 times this season. Waleszonia led the way by going 4-for-7 in the 2 games with 4 runs scored and an RBI. Rachel Alkire was 3-for-6 with 4 RBIs and a pair of doubles. Freshman Shawna Paxton was 3-for-5 with a double.
Through 42 games, Azusa Pacific already has 76 doubles, second most in program history and just 4 shy of the school-record 80 set by the 1999 Cougars in 55 games.
With the sweep Azusa Pacific improves to 30-12 overall and notches its ninth straight 30-win campaign and its 12th in the past 13 years. Additionally, with Concordia dropping 2 to Point Loma Nazarene and The Master’s splitting with Biola, the Cougars actually move into second place in the GSAC at 13-9 but still trail both Concordia and The Master’s in the loss column. Hope International falls to 3-21 overall, 0-18 in the GSAC.