Royals aced

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Sophomore pitcher Narissa Garcia pitched a one-hit shutout with six strikeouts and zero walks in the doubleheader sweep against Hope International on Tuesday, April 8. Photo credit: Steven Mercado

It was all about pitching for the Azusa Pacific softball team in its sweep of non-conference opponent Hope International Tuesday, April 9. Sophomore Narissa Garcia and freshman Carly Xepoleas both pitched complete-game shutouts and led the Cougars to sweep the Royals 4-0, 6-0.

Garcia won the first game after allowing no runs and only one opposing batter reach base, boosting her record to 11-5. She threw six strikeouts and gave up no walks. The only hit Garcia surrendered to Hope International came in the fourth inning.

Xepoleas gave up no runs off five hits for her team-high 12th win of the season. She struck out three and gave up zero walks. She allowed her first hit in the third inning and all five hits she allowed were singles. The Royals never threatened to score, with only one runner reaching second base.

The Cougars scored their first run in the bottom of the second inning in game one. A passed ball, two singles and a wild pitch resulted in sophomore first baseman Jessica Melcher coming home to score.

The following inning, APU tacked on two more runs. Junior catcher Madison Hernandez singled to left field on the first pitch she saw and junior left fielder Sona Babayan tripled to right center to score Hernandez. Melcher followed with a single on the first pitch to bring Babayan home and stretch the lead to 3-0. Babayan and Melcher strung together back-to-back hits in the fifth to score their fourth and final run of the game.

In game two, the Cougars put two three-run innings together for their 6-0 win. It started in the fourth inning when freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague singled and Hernandez doubled to left for the team’s first run of the game. Babayan walked and a wild pitch followed by a throwing error that brought Hernandez home to score. Two batters later, sophomore outfielder Janelle Eccles singled to score Babayan.

In the fifth inning, junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo started with a four-pitch walk. Sprague capitalized immediately with a triple to right center on the first pitch, scoring Oviedo from first. Sprague scored the next play when Hernandez grounded out to second. Babayan singled and took third base when the Royals committed a throwing error trying to catch her stealing second. Melcher then smacked a single down the right field line to score Babayan for the sixth and final run of the game.

Azusa Pacific improved to 32-14 with the sweep. The team is set to play three road doubleheaders in three days this weekend, starting on Thursday against Dominican in San Rafael, Calif. Four of its five remaining doubleheaders are on the road.

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