ORANGE, Calif. – Azusa Pacific closed out the month-long Sunwest Tournament with a pair of easy victories, running by Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.), 8-0, and Briarcliffe (N.Y.), 14-3, for a pair of mercy-ruled verdicts.
The Cougars, who had games recently postponed because of rain, were playing for the first time since March 15, but the rust from a 15-day layoff wasn’t prevalent in their play. They pounded out 33 hits in just 10 innings at the plate, including 18 vs. Briarcliffe, the second most by the Cougars this season (they had 20 vs. Bethany).
In the opening game, Azusa Pacific took advantage of 3 Gustie errors and combined them with 10 hits to scoot out to a 6-0 lead after 2 innings of play. Rachel Alkire’s 2-out double to left-center scored Megan Alkire and Natalie Mickelson to give the Cougars a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. In the second, the Cougars strung together 4 straight hits, including a double by Cassi Sweeney to tally 4 more unearned runs.
In the fifth, Megan Alkire’s 1-out double plated Rachel Yoshizu to push the Cougar lead to 7-0. Then in the sixth, Azusa Pacific again took advantage of sloppy Gustavus fielding when Katie Beazley came home with the game-ending run on Lori Shimasaki’s bunt single that was thrown into right field by the third baseman.
Michelle Coleman and Megan Alkire each pitched 3 innings to combine for Azusa Pacific’s 11th shutout of the season, 5 more than the Cougars had all of last season.
In the nightcap, Azusa Pacific used a 9-run second inning to run away from Briarcliffe and assume a 13-0 lead just 2 innings into the game. Mickelson cranked a 2-run home run in the first inning to get the Cougars on the board and came back with a solo shot in the second inning, her GSAC-leading eighth and ninth home runs of the season. All told, the Cougars had 10 hits in that fateful second inning, including 2 each by Shimasaki, and Megan Alkire.
Sophomore Kris Franks pitched all 5 innings to pick up her 11th victory in 15 decisions this season. Only Diana Christoforou’s 2-out 3-run homer in the top of the fourth kept Franks from the shutout. Nonetheless, she struck out 10, including striking out the side in 2 innings, and yielded just 4 hits.
On the day, Megan Alkire was 6-for-7 with 5 RBIs and 3 runs scored, collecting a pair of doubles and a home run in the process. Twin sister Rachel Alkire was 5-for-8 with 4 RBIs, while Shimasaki was 6-for-8 with 2 runs and an RBI.
With the 2 victories, Azusa Pacific improves to 22-6 on the season, while Gustavus Adolphus falls to 4-9 and Briarcliffe to 11-8.