Fullerton, CA- Hope International used strong pitching and timely hitting to produce a 9-0 (5 innings) and 1-0 sweep of Lewis & Clark (OR) on Saturday afternoon. Junior Lauren Ackerson hit a two-run home run to back Junior Liz Gonzalez in the first game. Junior Mea Flores dominated the second game to the tune of 14 strikeouts.
In the first game, Gonzalez faced the minimum number of Pioneers (3-3), with the help of a line drive double play in the third, until a double with two outs in the fourth. She allowed a single and double in the fifth but worked out of it with two pop-ups to the outfield and a fielder's choice. She improved to 1-2 on the year.
Offensively for the Royals (3-3) timely hitting was the key to their success all day
Junior Adi Lopez deposited the first pitch in the bottom of the first just inside the left field line for a single. Lopez stole second before Ackerson sent the fifth pitch of her at bat sailing over the left center field fence. Ackerson's first homerun of the season gave the Royals a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Hope International played small ball after Sophomore Stephanie Froussine ripped a ground rule double down the left field. The next two batter- Sophomore Taylor Augino and Senior Leslie Coffee- both dropped down sacrifice bunts to move Froussine over and drive her home.
Hope International went down 1-2-3 in the third and had two outs in the fourth before the offense struck again. Singles from Froussine and Augino brought up Coffee who found the gap in right center to plate both runners in front of her for a 5-0 edge.
Hope International needed three runs in the fifth for the mercy rule to kick in- they scored four.
Lopez opened the inning by beating a throw from the shortstop to first. Ackerson walked. They used their speed to move up to second and third before Sophomore Michelle Rivas sent a sacrifice fly to right to score Lopez. Sophomore Crystal Martin banged a single into left to plate Ackerson. Froussine reached on a fielder's choice with Martin safe at second in front of her. Augino topped a ball into play in front of the plate and the catcher's throw skipped past the first basemen scoring Martin easily. After a little cat and mouse and time not being called Froussine eventually scored as well.
In the second game, Lopez slapped her way on as she beat a throw from the catcher to begin the bottom of the first inning. Ackerson bunted her over to second and Lopez moved up to third on a wild pitch. Senior Janelle Medor found a hole on the right side of the infield to bring home Lopez.
The Royals put on a runner on base in every inning, including three in the bottom of the sixth, but the Lopez run was the only run they could manufacture.
Flores took care of the rest from there to make the one run stand up.
After hitting the first batter of the game, she struck out two to end the first. She struck out the side with a single to left sandwiched in between in the second inning. She struck out four in a row to end the third and all three in the fourth. Following a single in the fifth, Rivas gunned down a potential base stealer.
The only real trouble for Flores came in the sixth when three runners reached (two singles and an error) without the ball ever leaving the infield. She escaped the jam with another strikeout.
To close out in the game in the seventh, Ackerson threw out a runner from third before Flores slammed the door with two more strikeouts. Flores improved to 2-0 on the year.
For Flores, 13 of her 14 strikeouts were recorded via a swing. She also ended every inning with a strikeout. The 14 strikeouts topped the 13 strikeout performance by Alexis Alonzo against Northwestern (IA) two years ago.
Regarding the two wins Interim Head Coach Mark Dupuy simply stated, "We executed. That is it. We executed."
The Royals will host William Jessup on Friday at Craig Park at 1:00 pm.