Pacific Softball: Pacific Blanks Iona Twice Behind 17 Combined Runs Scored
After struggling to find runs early in the season, Pacific's bats came alive against the Gaels' pitching, pounding out 22 combined hits and 17 combined runs, headlined by freshman Megan Allen's (Yucaipa, Calif.) first career home runs.
In the first game of the afternoon, the Tigers wasted no time jumping all over the Gaels, running two pitchers from the game in the opening frame before recording their first out of the day. In its largest offensive output of the season, Pacific batted around in the bottom of the first inning before recording an out, scoring a season-high seven runs on six hits.
Junior Lindsey Pierce (Camarillo, Calif.) got the ball rolling for Pacific in their first trip to the plate of the day, working a walk on five pitches, her seventh first inning walk of the season. The final ball of the at bat was called on an illegal pitch by Sarah Jackson, the second of the at bat called against the Gaels' starter. With Pierce on, freshman Megan Hom (Irvine, Calif.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Pierce to second, however, on the play Jackson was again called for an illegal pitch, sending Pierce to second and Hom back to the plate with a 2-0 count. The pitch was Jackson's last of the game as she was pulled for Deanne Algeo amongst concerns of future illegal pitches.
After the new pitcher entered the game for the Gaels, Hom again tried to sacrifice Pierce up another base, but instead beat out the throw to first for an infield bunt single. With runners on the corners, the Tigers' middle of the order went to work beginning with senior Karie Wilson (Glendale, Ariz.). Following Hom's single, Wilson laced a single through the left side of the infield to plate Pierce and start the scoring barrage that would follow. Senior Kellee Wilson (Tracy, Calif.) then worked the Tigers' second walk of the inning to put a pair of runners on base for the Tigers' trio of freshmen hitting behind her. During Wilson's at bat, Hom came into score on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a two run lead.With two seniors on in front of her, freshman Nikki Armagost (Andover, Kan.) singled to left field, scoring Karie Wilson and moving Kellee Wilson to third. Doubling the number of bases Armagost posted, freshman Amy Moore (Valencia, Calif.) slashed a double into the right-center field gap, brining home Wilson for the fourth run of the inning. Not to be outdone, Allen stepped to the plate and again doubled Moore's total bases with an opposite field shot to right-center that cleared the fence for a three-run home run. The home run was the first of her young career and would be the first of two hit in the game. It would also prove to be the final pitch of Algeo's day as she was replaced by Eileen McCann, who finished out the game for Iona.
McCann would put two more Tigers' on base with a walk and a single by senior Brittany Hendrickson (San Jose, Calif.) before finally getting the first out of the inning on a strike out of Pierce. The inning would come to an end on a line drive double play on the Tigers' 11th batter of the inning.
"Hitting my first home run was a good feeling because I have been hitting the ball well this year but not getting the results," said Allen. "It is great when you can get a big hit like that and help get your team going offensively. Everyone was hitting well and I was glad to be a part of it."
Pacific threatened again in the second inning, loading the bases with only one out in the inning, but came up empty in their pursuit of more runs. Two innings later, however, the Tigers would remedy their mistake in the second, posting another three runs in the inning to get past the eight run mark needed to end the contest early against Iona. In the inning, the freshmen again came up big, headlined by Allen's second three-run bomb of the game after Armagost and Moore reached base on free passes.
Up 10-0, the Tigers finished off the Gaels in the fifth as sophomore Gabby McDaniel (Sacramento, Calif.) quelled a small rally, stemmed by two walks, to pick up her third win of the year. Throughout the contest, McDaniel dominated the Gaels' lineup, giving up just two hits while allowing just five base runners, courtesy of three total walks in the game. Iona only reached second base twice in the game, once in the second and again in the fifth. Additionally, McDaniel struck out four while facing 20 batters in her five innings of work.
In the second game of the day, the Tigers followed their game plan from the first contest to again rout Iona on their way to another shutout victory. Unlike game one, Pacific waited until the second inning to do the bulk of their damage, denting the plate six times in the inning to put the Gaels away.
In Pacific's big inning, the Tigers were the benefactors of a very costly error by Iona's shortstop as she allowed the first Tiger hitter to reach base on a defensive miscue. The mistake would come back to haunt the Gaels as the Tigers went on to score all six runs with two outs in the inning, all resulting in unearned runs against Iona's starter in the contest.
Just as they had done in the first game, Pacific sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, stringing together a line of singles and walks beginning with Allen's two-out, bloop single down the right field line. After a walk to sophomore Alexa Rivera (Sacramento, Calif.), Hendrickson picked up the first RBI of the game with a single to center field, brining home Allen on the play.
Another walk in the inning, this time to Pierce loaded the bases for Hom who singled up the middle to tally the second run of the game. Posting the Tigers' second straight hit, Karie Wilson went the other way with an 0-1 pitch, slashing the pitch through the right side of the infield to plate two more Tiger runs. Kellee Wilson followed with the third consecutive hit, doubling to right-center to score the Tigers' sixth and final run of the inning.
Pacific threatened again in the fourth before plating their final run of the afternoon in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Rivera and Hendrickson, the last of which brought home Moore who had reached on a fielder's choice earlier in the inning.
With their damage done, the Tigers gave more than enough support to Armagost, who got the start in game two for Pacific, to come away with her third win of the year. In seven complete, Armagost gave up just three hits, the first of which did not come until the fourth inning. The only real scoring threat for the Gaels came in the sixth inning when they posted back-to-back two-out singles in the inning, only to pop out to Rivera at third to end the inning. In the seventh, Armagost set the Gaels down in order. In all, Armagost struck out five and walked four to pick up her first career shutout.
Offensively, Pacific was led by Allen's four hits as she went 4-for-6 with two home runs and seven RBI. Karie Wilson finished the afternoon with three RBI on two hits while Armagost, Hom and Hendrickson each added three hits throughout the two games.
"I think we did a great job hitting today," said Head Coach Brian Kolze. "What I am really proud of is the way we hit with two outs. We hit a lot of balls the other way and did not try to do too much."
"We came out with a lot of energy playing at home and we were really able to control the game with out pitching and with the runs we were able to put up early. I think we did a nice job both in the circle and in the field defensively throughout the day."
The Tigers play again on Wednesday, March 17, when they host the Princeton Tigers in doubleheader action at Bill Simoni Field. The first game is scheduled for 2:00 pm.