Softball’s sweep sustains streak

The Eagles rallied to finish their nonconference play on a high note.

Austin Green, Sports Editor

The Eagles’ March 27 doubleheader against the Simpson University Red Hawks displayed that. Biola dominated the first game 7-0 before looking like they would get shut out in game two. However, the Eagles turned it on late to turn a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 victory behind a gutty performance from freshman relief pitcher Paige Austin. Head coach Lori Coleman’s squad has enough talent to overcome nearly any obstacle, and as she laughingly remarked after the game, they know it.

VAN DAGENS NOTCHES 10TH VICTORY

“Sometimes [the team is] a little too confident,” Coleman said. “They take too long to get it going because they know they’re going to, so it makes me a little nervous.”

The Eagles got two runs on the board in the first inning of game one thanks to a sacrifice fly from junior designated hitter Hailey Boyett and an RBI single from junior first baseman Missy Poti. They tacked on two more in the second, then blew open the game late. With runners on the corners in the fifth, Poti executed a squeeze play to score junior outfielder Areana Ramos, and junior shortstop Andi Hormel hit an RBI single of her own. Perez later scored in the sixth on a single from senior third baseman Selina Sherlin.

Meanwhile, senior starting pitcher Terri Van Dagens worked around baserunners in each of her four innings of work for another scoreless outing, reaching 10 wins for the first time in her collegiate career. Austin wiped out the Red Hawks in the final three frames, striking out four without allowing a hit to seal the win.

“To go from Terri, with junk ball pitching, to the speed of Paige, it’s just so clutch,” said head coach Lori Coleman. “That one-two punch is our go-to.”

EAGLES CLAW BACK LATE IN NIGHTCAP

The second game started on a much more ominous note as two of Simpson’s first three batters launched home runs against sophomore starter Paula Damas, causing Coleman to make an early switch to junior reliever Kaile Chavez.

Chavez got out of the first inning but loaded the bases in the third, prompting her exit in favor of Austin, who issued a walk and infield single to bring home two more runs before finally recording the inning’s third out.

Biola’s bats finally came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Ramos led off with a triple and scored on a single from Sherlin. After a walk and another hit loaded the bases, Hormel whacked a two-run single to continue her hot-hitting day.

“I was in a spot where [the team] just needed me to get it done, so I got it done,” Hormel said. “That’s all I thought about.”

Later in the inning, sophomore Jay Perez came up with two outs and runners on second and third. She doubled into the left-center field gap, bringing both runners home and tying the game at 5.

Austin took over from there, gutting through her next three innings of work. Simpson put a runner in scoring position each inning, but Austin got herself out of trouble every single time. Her performance kept the Eagles in the game before they finally scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth when Hormel scored on a single from freshman outfielder Noel Balderston. The young fireballer then retired the side in the top of the seventh for one of her biggest saves of the season.

“The more stress [Austin is in], the better she is,” Coleman said. “It’s how she rolls.”

The Eagles are now 28-8 on the year and will only play other PacWest teams from here on out, starting with a trip to Dixie State University on March 31.

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