The NAIA’s No. 3-ranked Point Loma Nazarene scored 6 runs in the top of the seventh to break open a tight game and defeat the Cougars, 7-1, in an elimination game of the NAIA Region II Softball Playoffs at the Arco Olympic Training Site.
The Crusaders tallied 7 of their 11 hits in the game in that fateful seventh inning and parlayed 1 Cougar error into a floodgate opening that drowned the Cougars’ season. Kelly Kalish’s triple to centerfield scored Amy Nanson with what proved to be the game-winning run, but it was just the beginning of a Point Loma roll that ended with 5 more runs and the victory.
Azusa Pacific battled the Crusaders tooth-and-nail through the first 6 innings. Sophomore pitcher Rachel Alkire, who was making only her second start in the past 3 weeks, cruised through the middle innings after yielding an unearned run in the first frame. At one point, Alkire retired 8 straight Crusaders and 18 of 21 heading into the seventh inning.
Azusa Pacific knotted the game at 1-1 when 4-time All-GSAC honoree Jennie Waleszonia doubled home Megan Carpenter, who had singled earlier in the inning. However, the Cougars had trouble mounting consistent threats against GSAC Pitcher of the Year Leslie Ludlow. In fact, those fourth inning safties by Carpenter and Waleszonia were the only hits Ludlow allowed in 5 innings of work. Kalish came on in relief and surrendered a 2-out sixth-inning double to Waleszonia which the Cougars could not cash in.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific’s season end with a 41-20 record. It marks the fifth time in the past 8 years the Cougars have won at least 40 games.