SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Azusa Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene, a pair of NAIA Top 20-ranked teams, looked every bit their part as the 2 powerhouses played to 2 1-run decisions in a split of a key GSAC doubleheader.
Behind the marvelous pitching of sophomore Kristine Franks, the Cougars took game one, 1-0, becoming only the second team this season to shut out Point Loma, limiting the Sea Lions to just 5 hits. Franks got just enough support at the plate and plenty of help in the field.
The Cougars scored the game’s only run in the second inning when Megan Alkire scored on a suicide squeeze by her sister Rachel Alkire. Megan had led off the inning with an infield single and went to third on Cassi Sweeney’s base hit to right. Two batters later Rachel bunted home Megan for what proved to be the game-winning run.
In the meantime, Franks retired 10 in a row and 13 of 14 to keep Point Loma off the base path. However, in the fifth Point Loma took advantage of a 2-out Cougar error. Pinch-runner Elizabeth Reimer tried to score on Vanessa Para’s infield single but was instead cut down at the plate on a fine tag by Cougar catcher Natalie Mickelson
In the seventh, Point Loma put a runner at second with one out but Katie McColeman was unable to score on Allie Boeckleman’s single to left and rather was called out on interference. Franks induced her eighth ground out to end the game to post her team-leading sixth shutout of the season and snap Azusa Pacific’s 6-game losing streak to Point Loma and give the Cougars just their second win in the past 15 games with the Sea Lions. It is also Azusa Pacific’s first win in San Diego since 2000.
In the nightcap, pitchers Megan Alkire and McColeman battled through 5 scoreless innings. In the sixth, Alkire gave way to Franks, and after McColeman opened the inning with a single, Lisa Field lifted a 2-out single to left center to score McColeman. Field then came home with a much-need insurance on a Vanessa Para double.
In the top of the seventh, freshman Katie Beazley led off with a single and came home on Tami Carter’s triple, the Cougars’ first 2 hits of the game. However, McColeman settled down and got the next 3 Cougars and secure the split for Point Loma.
Azusa Pacific managed just 7 hits on the day, all by 7 different players. Carter managed the only extra base hit for Azusa Pacific. Meanwhile, Franks and Alkire scattered 15 Sea Lion hits and held Point Loma to just 2 runs in 14 innings.
With the split No. 17-ranked Azusa Pacific moves to 25-7 overall, 5-5 in the GSAC. Point Loma, ranked No. 7 in the NAIA, is now 30-6 overall, 6-4 in the GSAC.