AZUSA, Calif. – All it took was 1 inning and as little as 1 throw.
On the brink of a conference-opening sweep, the NAIA’s No. 18-ranked Azusa Pacific had to settle for a split with Concordia after out-playing the Eagles for nearly 13 of the 14 innings played. Azusa Pacific took the first game in rather dramatic fashion, 2-1, before enduring a gut-wrenching 6-5 setback in the nightcap.
In the second game, the Cougars held a commanding 5-1 lead after 5 innings of play. Pitcher Megan Alkire had been sterling, striking out 6 and yielding just 2 hits. However, she was making her first start in 2 weeks and tired, thus giving way to Michelle Coleman at the start of the sixth. Coleman retired the first batter she faced before surrendering an infield single to Ashley Evans. Ashley Fama then hit a come-backer that Coleman attempted to turn into an inning-ending double-play. However, her throw to second base sailed into the outfield. Following another Cougar error, two batters later Tracey Clark hit a bases-clearing double, and Concordia moved back into the game at 5-4. The Eagles scored 2 more runs on a Krista Zielke triple to rally into a 6-5 lead in seemingly a blink of an eye.
The Cougars didn’t go quietly into the night. In the seventh, Alkire laced a 1-out double that put runners at second and third. Cassi Sweeney then lifted a fly out to centerfield, and pinch runner Katie Beazley attempted to score on Evan’s arm but instead was gunned down at home to end the game, allowing Concordia to steal a split.
In the opening game, Rachel Yoshizu’s 1-out sacrifice fly scored Rachel Alkire with the game-winning to run to give the Cougars the victory. The comeback capped an outstanding effort by pitcher Kris Franks who was marvelous in 8 inning of work, allowing just 5 hits while striking out 9 and walking none. Yet the extra-inning affair would not have been possible without freshman Natalie Mickelson, who led off the seventh inning by cranking her team-leading seventh home run of the season to knot the score at 1-1.
With the split, Azusa Pacific is now 17-3 on the season, 1-1 in the GSAC. Concordia moves to 13-3 overall and also 1-1 in the GSAC.