Santa Clara, Calif. – In a battle of future conference rivals, the Pacific softball team flexed its muscles against Santa Clara on Saturday, Feb. 9 with a two-game sweep of the Broncos. Pacific opened the day with a 6-0 shutout of the Broncos before capping off its opening weekend with a convincing 8-1 victory.
Showing Santa Clara what life will be like in the West Coast Conference in 2014, the Tigers displayed their dominance on opening day, spoiling the Broncos' festivities on a day in which Santa Clara opened its new on-campus field. Despite entering the day with a new look and many new faces throughout its vaunted lineup, the Tigers answered all of the possible concerns by posting 14 runs and 22 hits between the two games.
Leading the way for the Tigers were faces both old and new as senior All-American Nikki Armagost picked up right where she left off in 2012 while freshman Nicole Zapotoczny made her presence felt immediately. For Armagost, the senior led the way with four hits in seven at bats as she posted three-extra base hits including blasting the first home run in Santa Clara Softball Field history in game two. Right behind the senior was the freshman, Zapotoczny, as the new Tiger went 3-for-8 with the Tigers' first triple of the season and a team-best four RBI. In all, all of Pacific's starters throughout the two contests recorded at least one hit on the day while five drove in two or more RBI.
After a slow start to the Tigers' morning saw the first three innings of play fly by, Pacific got its offense on a roll in the fourth when Armagost tagged a one-out double to set up the opening score. Two batters later, Zapotoczny struck for the first time in the day as the freshman first baseman laced a single through the right-side to score freshman Sara Anderson from second after the speedy outfielder replaced Armagost on the bases.
An inning later, the Tigers broke the game open with three runs in the frame as Pacific rallied with two outs. The heart of the Tigers' order did the damage in the inning as Pacific picked up three singles and a walk to post the runs. Again, it was Zapotoczny that did the bulk of the damage as she drove in two with a single to center that was then followed by an RBI single by senior Megan Allen.
The six runs were more than enough for Armagost in the circle as the Tigers' ace was dominant in her first start of the season. For most of the morning, Armagost was able to dumbfound the Bronco hitters as the senior went four innings without allowing a hit before finally giving up a single. She would allow just three hits in the game while striking out seven to earn her first win of the year.
With the opening contest in their back pocket, the Tigers went for the jugular in the second game, scoring early to set the tone and late to finish the job. After picking up just one hit in the opening game, Armagost turned in a 3-for-3 effort in game two beginning with a three-run shot in the first inning to spot Pacific the early lead. Armagost's three RBI came about after Foglesong and Petty put themselves on base with a walk and a single, respectively.
Over the next four innings the Tigers saw their efforts to break the game open stymied by stellar Bronco defense as hard hit balls found Santa Clara gloves. However, in the sixth, Pacific's luck would change as the Tigers sent nine to the plate and scored five to finally put the Broncos away for good.
In the inning, the Tigers recorded six consecutive one-out hits beginning with a double off the bat of Armagost who came up a triple shy of the cycle in the game. From there, senior Amy Moore started the scoring onslaught with an RBI single to right followed by Zapotoczny's first career triple and fourth RBI of the day. After Allen singled home her second run of the day following the triple, Pacific picked up a pair of doubles from sophomore Alex Steinmehl and Habib to cap off the inning. The two RBI from Habib marked the first two runs driven in by the freshman shortstop in her opening weekend of action. Steinmehl, in her first collegiate start behind the plate, went 2-for-3 for the Tigers.
The eight runs, just like the six in game one, were six more than junior Tori Shepard needed in the circle for the Tigers as the third-year starter put together a strong opening performance in her first start. Scattering eight hits throughout the game, many of which were bloop shots just over the dirt of the infield, Shepard gave up just one run in the contest to earn the victory. In all, Shepard struck out three and walked one in six innings of work while sophomore Dani Bonnet finished the game for the Tigers in the seventh with a strikeout and a pair of ground balls.
The Tigers will be back in action on Tuesday, Feb. 12 when they head to Sacramento State to take on the Hornets in a single non-conference matchup from Hornet Field. The game is scheduled for 2:30 pm.