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Ponce Throws Perfect Game for Hope International (Calif.)

Jamie Ponce - Hope International (Calif.)

Story by Hope International Athletics

FULLERTON, Calif. – Hope International (Calif.) played host to Ottawa (Ariz.) on Thursday, Feb. 8 in its second home doubleheader of the 2018 season. The Royals (6-0) came away with a 6-5 win in game one and then finished the sweep with a 9-0 win in five innings to take game two from OUAZ (1-7).

Taylor Pierce stood in the circle to start game one and lasted six full innings in her third win of the year, leaving in the top of the seventh after facing two batters in the last inning. Jamie Ponce would come on for the save to ice the game with a three-out effort. Ponce got the start in the second game and would go on to toss a perfect game, albeit in a shortened five-inning effort with a run-rule victory.

Ponce faced the minimum 15 batters and struck out two herself while getting nine groundouts and four flyouts from defense for the perfect game. "What can you say about the freshman Jamie – she really stepped it up, her
first perfect game in college [in just her third start] is pretty impressive," Coach Dennis Blas said after the second game of the afternoon. The perfect game by Ponce is the first for any Blas-coached team at HIU as he begins his third season with the Royals.

"I went into both games today feeling confident in my defense and in my teammates, knowing that if I gave up a run they can get it back at the plate," Ponce said after the doubleheader. "I knew after that fourth inning [of game two] that I was pitching really well and I just wanted to finish it out – I've never thrown a perfect game before, so I feel pretty great about it!"

The Royals plated the first two runs of game one after stringing together a single from Justice Walker, a double from Ally Painter, and a dropped fly ball hit by Jenny Navarro in the bottom of the first. HIU stretched their lead to three with another single by Painter that Ponce cashed in for a run with a double, but OUAZ would answer with three unearned runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game.

The Royals got all three runs back in the bottom of the fifth after Walker led off with a triple and Painter chased Walker home with an inside-the-park home run to dead center. Ponce doubled again in the frame and was replaced by Justine De La Rosa, who would score on a single to center field by Kaitlyn Lanksbury. Ponce would come on for the save in the top of the seventh with two OUAZ runs already on the board in that inning and two more runners on base, allowing just one hit in a three-out save.

Game two, however, was all HIU, and Ponce saved her best stuff for last. A nasty changeup got Ponce her first strikeout of the afternoon for a called strike three and the Royals would roll from there to the 9-0 win in game two. Walker and Lanksbury both doubled in the second game, Walker would steal two bases, and the Royals romped to the win with three multi-run innings in just four frames of work at the plate.

"I think we took better plate appearances in game two – instead of looking to hit home runs we were looking to get line drives, and all of a sudden that's what happens," Coach Blas said after the doubleheader. "It's really easy when Justice gets on base, that gets everything rolling for us, and we have 26 players we want to keep engaged so it was great to get [the game two starters] some confidence today."

Championship Information

NAIA Softball Championship
Sports Rules - Softball