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Softball pulls upset in Azusa

After getting shut out in the first game, the Eagles women’s softball team rode a four-run third inning to win game two and split a doubleheader at Azusa Pacific University on Feb. 7. It was the Eagles’ first victory against the host Cougars since 2011, and marks the last time the two teams will meet in softball before they are reunited in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II’s PacWest conference next year.

Biola’s bats went missing in game one, only mustering four hits against Azusa starter Carly Xoepleas, who threw a complete game shutout. Eagles senior pitcher Kimmy Triolo, who also went the distance, ran into trouble in the bottom half of the second inning. After a groundout, walk and fielder’s choice put a runner on with two outs, Triolo struggled to throw strikes as she attempted to finish the frame. Two more walks and a wild pitch loaded the bases, then an Abry Moreno double brought home the first two runs of the game. Xoeplas bunted on the next play, but junior third baseman Selina Sherlin mishandled the ball, allowing two more Cougars to score. The damage may have been even worse if Azusa’s Illiana Jimenez had not been caught attempting to steal third base, ending the inning.

The Eagles returned the favor with a four-run inning of their own in the second game. After Azusa scored two in the bottom of the first against Biola sophomore pitcher Kaile Chavez, the Eagles got to Cougars starter Ariana von Zboray in the third inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Sherlin, who singled up the middle for Biola’s first run of the afternoon. After a strikeout from freshman Kayla Neff, sophomore shortstop Andi Hormel and sophomore first baseman Hailey Boyett added base-hits of their own to take the lead. That was enough to knock von Zboray out of the game, as pitcher Megan Mejia entered as relief. Mejia and Kat Ung combined for 4.1 innings of relief without allowing another hit, but their teammates were not able to retake the lead. The Cougars threatened several times, however. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Eagles junior Paula Damas came on in relief of Chavez and induced a pop-up and groundout to escape the frame. A walk and a double in the bottom of the sixth brought Azusa to within one before Triolo returned to the mound for the Eagles and recorded the final five outs for the win.

The Eagles return home on Feb. 10 to host Lewis and Clark College for a doubleheader at Freedom Field.

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