AZUSA, Calif. – Junior Jessica Mikesell hit a grand slam and a game-winning 3-run bomb to tally a school-record 7 RBIs in leading Azusa Pacific to an 8-5 victory and season-finale split with the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Point Loma Nazarene, Saturday afternoon in Azusa.
Point Loma Nazarene won the first game, 8-3.
In the second game, the southpaw Mikesell, who had doubled off the left-center wall in her first at-bat, ripped a Katie McColeman 0-1 offering down the right field line and over the fence for only her second home run of the season and her first-ever grand slam to put Azusa Pacific up 5-0 in the third inning.
However 2 Cougar errors and 5 Sea Lion hits in the top of fourth allowed Point Loma Nazarene to tally 5 runs, 3 of which were unearned, and tie the game at 5-5. McColeman’s single to center scored Amy Nanson to cut the Cougar lead to 5-1. However, when Cougar pitcher Megan Alkire cut off the throw from center, she tried to pick off Ruth Atkins at second, but her throw sailed into the outfield and all the way to the wall, allowing Atkins and McColeman to score and make at a 5-3 game. The Sea Lions weren’t done. They recorded 4 more singles to tie knot the game at 5 before the inning was out. Yet all it did was set up Mikesell’s heroics for the second straight outing.
Just 2 nights earlier, Mikesell hit a 2-run double in the sixth inning to lead Azusa Pacific to a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over UC San Diego. Still reveling in that clutch performance, Mikesell added to her lore when she launched KC Robertson’s 3-2 pitch over the leftfield wall and just inside the foul pole for a 3-run homer in the fifth inning to put the Cougars back up 8-5.
The rest was up to pitcher Alkire, who retired 6 of the final 8 Sea Lions to seal the victory and make this Azusa Pacific team the first ever in 20 years of Cougar softball to win its final game of the season.
Mikesell’s 7 RBIs breaks the former school single-game standard of 6 RBIs set originally by Jennifer Hendry in 1997 (vs. Cal Stat San Bernardino) and tied by Jennie Waleszonia in 2001 (vs. San Diego).
In the first game, Rachel Alkire, who is No. 2 on Azusa Pacific’s all-time home run list, finally hit her first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field that put Azusa Pacific up 1-0 in the second inning. However, Point Loma answered with 2 runs of its own in fourth. McColeman’s single scored Amy Nanson to tie the game at 1-1. McColeman later came home on a single and an error to put the Sea Lions up 2-1.
The Sea Lions added a single run in the fifth on Ruth Atkins’ 2-out double to center that plated Nanson. Point Loma then put the game out of reach with a 5-run seventh, using 3 straight singles to score runs and move out to a comfortable 8-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh Azusa Pacific parlayed 2 Sea Lion errors and 2 hits into 2 runs, all with 2 outs to cut the deficit to 8-3. With Cougars at second and third, Robertson finally induced Katie Beazley into a game-ending ground out to seal the PLNU victory and give Robertson her 20th win of the season.
On the day, Mikesell finished 4-for-5 with a single, a double, 2 home runs and 7 RBIs. Rachel Alkire, playing in her final games as a Cougar after an excellent 4-year career, was 3-for-5 with 4 runs scored. Twin sister Megan picked up the win in game 2 to finish the season with a 5-3 record.
Azusa Pacific closes out the 2005 season with a 32-16 record overall, 10-14 in the GSAC. Point Loma Nazarene, which was paced by Atkins’ 4-for-8 effort on the day that included 3 RBIs and 2 runs, moves into the NAIA postseason with a 42-10 record.