At the plate, Alkire had 3 hits on the day, including a double and a home run to go along with a pair of RBIs. In the pitcher’s circle she posted perhaps her finest effort of her 4-year career, a 4-hit shutout in the second game in which she struck out a career-high 13, including 6 straight at one point.
In the opening game, Azusa Pacific rolled out to a 4-1 lead by the second inning, using 5 hits to tally the runs. Alkire’s double to leftfield scored Lori Shimasaki who had led off the game with a bunt single. Alkire then scored on a passed ball.
After Hope tagged Cougar pitcher Kris Franks with its only run of the day in the bottom of the first, Azusa Pacific came back with 2 more runs in the top of the second. With 2 outs, Shimasaki singled home Jessi Boicelli. Shimasaki, who then stole second base, came home on Courtney Cleaves’ single.
Franks retired 9 of the final 10 batters she faced to pick up her 16th win of the season, striking out 10 in the process.
With the 2 runs each in the first and second innings, Azusa Pacific ran its streak to 12 straight innings with at least 1 run scored against Hope International this season.
In the second game, the Cougars scored single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Shimasaki’s 2-out single to left scored Rachel Alkire with the only run Azusa Pacific needed. The rest was up to Megan Alkire, who had a hand in 14 of the 21 outs recorded, including 8 of the game’s first 9 in which she struck out Royals. She also slugged her seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh which capped the scoring.
For the day Shimasaki and Sweeney went 4-for-8 at the plate. Shimasaki added a pair of runs and 2 RBIs
With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 29-13 overall, 9-11 in the GSAC, and moves to within a game of Biola for the fourth and final NAIA regional playoff berth. The Cougars visit Biola Saturday in a crucial GSAC doubleheader. Hope International falls to 14-37 overall, 1-19 in the GSAC.