AZUSA, Calif. –- The NAIA’s No. 14-ranked Azusa Pacific came within 1 hit of sweeping an important GSAC doubleheader from No. 16 Concordia. As it was, though, the Cougars had to settle for split, dropping the first game 6-5 before ripping the Eagles, 8-0, in 6 innings of a mercy-ruled game.
With the split, Azusa Pacific keeps pace in a tight 5-team race for 3 berths in the upcoming NAIA regional playoffs.
In the first game, Azusa Pacific rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit and nearly rallied again from a 2-run hole in the seventh inning. In the second inning, Cassie Lakey’s triple down the leftfield line scored Megan Carpenter and Aurion Sanchez to tie the game at 3-3. Megan Alkire then grounded to second and Lakey beat the throw home to give Azusa Pacific a 4-3 lead that stood until the fifth inning.
Concordia knotted the game 4-4 and then took the lead for good with 2 runs in the top of the seventh.
Azusa Pacific responded by scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh to pull to within 1 at 6-5 and then loaded the bases with no outs. A simple single would have probably won the game. However, Sasha Budde was called out on the infield fly rule, and when Eagle shortstop Kori Przygocki dropped Budde’s pop-up, Alkire tried to score from third base but instead was gunned down at the plate for the second out of the inning. Trisho Rico then flew out to right field, ending the threat and the game.
As they did in the first game, Azusa Pacific used a 4-run inning to take the lead in the nightcap, touching the plate 4 times in the third inning. Auron Sanchez’s single up the middle scored Rachel and Megan Alkire to cap the 4-run outburst.
Rachel Alkire then slugged her team-leading fifth home run, a monster shot to right field to put the Cougars up 5-0 in the fifth inning. Azusa Pacific closed out the game with 3 runs in the sixth. Rachel Alkire’s record-setting double to left-center field sent Megan Alkire and Waleszonia home with the game-ending runs. For the Cougars, Alkire’s double was the team’s 81st of the season, breaking the former season-record of 80 set by the 1999 Cougars in 55 games.
Sophomore Michelle Coleman pitched 3 innings of shutout softball to pick up the win and push her record to a team-best 8-1. When Concordia put runners and second and third with no outs in the fourth inning, Coleman gave way to freshman Kris Franks, who immediately thwarted the threat and then allowed just 1 hit over the next 3 innings to register her first-ever collegiate save.
Sanchez enjoyed her best day ever as a Cougar, going 5-for-6 in the 2 games with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Megan Alkire was 3-for-7 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.
Azusa Pacific is now 31-13 overall, 14-10 in the GSAC. Concordia moves to 31-13 overall and 11-8 in the GSAC.