Capitalizing on the opportunities

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Junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo hit one of five total Cougar hits in the first game of the doubleheader against Biola on Saturday, Feb. 15. Photo credit: Kimberly Smith

The Azusa Pacific women’s softball team used a combination of timely hitting and solid pitching to beat previously undefeated Biola 3-2 and 3-1 on Saturday, Feb. 15 to sweep the doubleheader.

In the first game of the afternoon, the Cougars got their first run of the game in the first inning on an RBI double by sophomore catcher Madison Hernandez, scoring freshmen infielder Nicki Sprague from second.

The Cougars added to their lead in the second inning when sophomore first baseman Jessica Melcher lead off the inning with her third home run of the season.

They scored their third and final run of the game in the fourth inning when Hernandez, who reached base with a leadoff walk, scored from second on a throwing error after an attempted sacrifice bunt by junior outfielder Sona Babayan.

In the top of the fifth, Biola threatened the lead, loading the bases with no outs but Cougars’ junior pitcher Destinee Levesque was able to get out of the inning only allowing two unearned runs. Levesque threw five innings, allowing zero earned runs on three hits.

Freshman pitcher Carly Xepoleas then pitched two perfect innings to get the save and close out the 3-2 victory.

“We might not be able to have each starter go a full seven innings every game, so we need to utilize the strengths of all three pitchers to keep teams off-balance and put together a full game,” head coach Carrie Webber said. “As long as our pitchers are consistent around the strike zone, we can make those changes and be efficient with our pitching staff. They’re getting some innings under their belt, and you can see them starting to be more productive.”

In the second game of the day, it was Biola that got on the board first with a two-out home run from sophomore third baseman Heather Hall in the top of the third.

Azusa Pacific answered back in the bottom of the inning with a three-run rally on just one hit.

“We’re starting to understand who we are, how we play together, and what combinations will work for us in different situations,” Webber said. “There’s starting to be a comfort level for us that we didn’t have when we started the season.”

Freshmen Carly Xepoleas picked up her second save of the day throwing three perfect innings in relief of sophomore starting pitcher Narissa Garcia, who threw four innings and allowed one run on six hits.

With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improved to 9-2 on the year, while Biola suffered its first losses of the season to fall to 7-2. The Cougars host Hawai‘i Pacific for a four-game series Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 17-18, to kick off Pacific West Conference play.

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