REDLANDS, Calif. – For the first time since 1995, Azusa Pacific opened a new campaign with a doubleheader sweep, taking 2 today from the University of Redlands, 5-0 and 10-4, in both teams’ 2005 season openers.
In the first game a healthy Kris Franks returned to form of her 2003 freshman campaign, firing a 3-hit shutout that included 5 strikeouts and no walks. She surrendered just 3 singles and did not allow a runner to second base while retiring the 13 of the final 14 batters she faced. Franks missed nearly all of last year with a shoulder injury but she was dominating in recording her second career shutout.
Franks got all the support she needed before she ever entered the pitcher’s circle. The Cougars scored in their opening at-bat when freshman Natalie Michelson, who doubled in her first collegiate appearance, scored on Rachel Alkire’s fielder’s choice. The Cougars scooted out a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Tami Carter’s bases loaded 2-out single down the right field line plated Jessica Mikesell and Shawna Paxton.
Though she didn’t need them, Franks got 2 more insurance runs in the top of the seventh off a Megan Alkire single to right that scored Michelson and Rachel Alkire.
In the second game, Azusa Pacific pounded out 13 hits and none was bigger than Michelson’s first collegiate home run, a fourth-inning, 2-out grand slam that scored Megan Alkire, Justine Barnett and Lori Shimasaki and put the Cougars up 9-1 at the time.
Meanwhile, Cougar pitcher Rachel Alkire worked around a dozen Redlands’ singles and took full advantage of the Cougars’ offensive onslaught to pick up the win, striking out 4 and walking 3 in the process.
Shimasaki led Azusa Pacific throughout the day by going 6-for-8 in the 2 games with a pair of runs and a stolen base. Megan Alkire was 3-for-7 with a double, 2 runs and 3 RBIs. Third baseman Rachel Yoshizu was 2-for-4 in the second game with 2 doubles and a pair of RBIs.
Today’s meeting was the Cougars’ first with Redlands since 1996 and their first-ever visit to the Redlands campus. Not since taking 3-2 and 6-3 verdicts at UC Riverside in 1995 has Azusa Pacific swept a doubleheader to start a season.