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Matadors storm back, sweep Phoenix College
Before the Matadors knew what hit them, five Bears had crossed home plate and starting pitcher Briana VanSickle had been pulled from the game after only two-thirds of an inning.
But if there's one thing the Matadors know how to do, it's dig themselves out of an early hole. AWC came from behind to win Game 1 10-8 and carried its offensive momentum into a 6-3 win in Game 2.
The wind played a major factor Tuesday, not so much in the air but on the rubber. The Matadors waited out Phoenix starting pitcher Cassandra Roessing, scoring their first five runs on six walks and only one hit.
After chasing Roessing in the third, the Matador hitters looked tired of taking pitches and started hitting. AWC scored five runs on five hits in the fourth, including three doubles.
“(Patience) is a big factor for us,” AWC coach Nikki Bethurum said. “We're a very good hitting team with two strikes. The more pitches you can see from a pitcher, the more you pick up her speed, you pick up her tendencies. The more pitches you see, the better off you are to hit it harder. Pitching into the wind, the ball's taking off. You really have to have a good eye in that case because it's not going to be a strike.”
Jessica Leitner earned the win in relief pitching the remaining 6-1/3 innings. Leitner danced around trouble with runners on base, allowing six hits and walking six, but was able to keep the Bears at bay by allowing only three runs.
“It's hard to come in when you're down a little bit,” Leitner said. “But it gives you more incentive to come back.”
Game 2 was a different story. AWC jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to an Alex Roman two-run homer, added two more in the second and an insurance run in the sixth.
“Honestly, I was just thinking of getting a base hit,” Roman said. “I knew we needed to get runs and I really wanted to help my team out, so I just went up there and swung the bat.”
The wind didn't concern AWC starting pitcher Hayley Miller, who scattered six hits over her complete game, allowing three runs, two of which were earned.
“I wouldn't blame (the win) on me, I'd blame it on our hitting really coming alive,” Miller said. “We had confidence in that game compared to the first game. We seem to be a team where once that first hit is broken open, we come alive and have confidence in each other. We're starting to hit in the first inning rather than just starting in the fifth inning, which we have been doing lately.”
Since the Matador offense seems to only wake up when they're behind, Miller's teammate Breanna Delgadillo had an idea of how to rev the offense's engine.
“She thought of this thing that we've been doing lately where we say we're down by three mentally,” Miller said. “And we just say that so we just start focusing on our hits.”