Softball slugs their way to a season-opening sweep

Eagles’ offense wastes no time in making a statement with two big wins.

Chak Hee Lo / THE CHIMES

Chak Hee Lo / THE CHIMES

Austin Green, Sports Editor

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Softball entered an opening-day doubleheader against old National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics foe La Sierra University with the Eagles looking to show off their strong offense and young talent. With a whopping 21 runs over two games—one of which was shortened—La Sierra could not keep up with Biola’s scoring outbursts, and the Eagles started the 2018 season with two victories by scores of 10-1 and 11-7, respectively.

BALDERSTON HOMERS IN COLLEGE DEBUT

Senior pitcher Terri Van Dagens started game one and threw three perfect innings. In the bottom of the first, senior third baseman Selina Sherlin drove in the first run after two Eagles were hit by pitches and one of them, sophomore designated hitter Jay Perez, stole third then scored on Sherlin’s sacrifice fly. Perez padded Biola’s lead in the next frame when she singled home freshman second baseman Kylie Velasco, and sophomore catcher Kayla Neff followed with a sacrifice fly of her own, putting the Eagles up 3-0.

Junior outfielder Areana Ramos reached on an error to start the third and junior first baseman Hailey Boyett singled her in to add another run. The next batter, freshman outfielder Noel Balderston, crushed a two-run home run in just her second collegiate plate appearance, blowing the Eagles’ lead wide open.

“The at bat before [the home run], I was thinking too much,” Balderston said. “So I was really trying to relax myself and not really think.”

Junior pitcher Kaile Chavez could not preserve the shutout in the fourth, giving up a run to La Sierra. In the bottom half of the frame, a triple from Perez, a double from Neff, a walk from Sherlin and a three-run homer from Boyett made the score 10-1. A flawless inning from freshman pitcher Paige Austin in her Biola debut triggered a mercy rule, ending the game after five innings.

BOYETT CONTINUES HUGE DAY AT THE PLATE

Biola’s bats picked up right where they left off in game two, scoring five runs in the first inning. However, sophomore starter Paula Damas struggled to hold the lead in the top of the second, issuing a bases-loaded, two-run single before getting pulled from the game. Chavez came on in relief, forcing her first batter to lay down a bunt, which Sherlin fielded and instinctively fired toward first—only for the ball to sail into right field as none of her teammates were anywhere near the base. That allowed one run to score, and two more came around to tie the game when La Sierra’s next batter doubled over Ramos’s head.

The Eagles snatched the lead right back in the bottom of the second. Neff led off with a triple and scored on Ramos’s sacrifice fly. Boyett continued mashing with an RBI triple of her own, then scored on a double to make it 8-5, Eagles. Chavez retired the first two batters in the top of the third inning but then issued three straight singles to narrow Biola’s lead back to one and force head coach Lori Coleman to pull her in favor of Austin. The move worked, as the freshman shut La Sierra down for the rest of the game to the tune of six strikeouts and only one hit allowed over 4.1 innings. The Eagles got some key insurance thanks to a two-run single from Boyett in the third and an RBI infield single from freshman second baseman Tori Apodaca in the fifth.

Boyett could not have asked for a better start to her season, going six for six with seven RBI, a home run and a triple. Neff had four hits, scored three runs and recorded two RBI while Sherlin scored four runs. Austin looks like a revelation on the rubber, having accounted for eight of the pitching staff’s 10 strikeouts so far.

The Eagles will look to continue their momentum against an international opponent as Simon Fraser University visits from Canada for a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 6.

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Softball slugs their way to a season-opening sweep