HAYWARD, Calif. – A 3-run third-inning propelled the NAIA’s No. 18-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 4-2 victory over Dominican during the final day of the NorCal Softball Tournament hosted by Notre Dame de Namur.
Sophomore first baseman Cassi Sweeney went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, lifting a sacrifice fly to left to plate Courtney Cleaves and put the Cougars up 1-0 in the first inning and then had a run-scoring single to ignite the Cougars’ third inning.
Freshman catcher Natalie Mickelson walked to open the inning and came home on Sweeney’s single following a fielding error by Dominican pitcher Katie Reiss. Tami Carter’s 2-out single pushed across Sweeney and Rachel Alkire to give the Cougars a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Junior pitcher Michelle Coleman held the Penguins in check through 6 innings, allowing 3 meaningless singles and just 1 runner to reach second base. However, in the seventh, Dominican put together a pair of singles and took advantage of 2 Cougar errors to score 2 runs and cut the Cougar lead in half. Coleman, though, settled down and with the tying run on base induced an infield pop-up and a game-ending ground out to squash the Penguin uprising and pick up her fourth win in 5 decisions this season.
Azusa Pacific banged out 9 hits. Along with Sweeney, Cleaves and Megan Alkire both had 2 hits. Mickelson extended her hitting streak to 5 straight with a first-inning safety. The rookie has now hit safely in 13 of her first 14 collegiate games.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 12-2 overall for its second-best start in program history (the 2003 teams opened at 12-1).