Here is a rundown of all the athletic excitement from last week.
While students returned from spring break this past week, APU student-athletes continued their campaigns with a week full of Cougar athletic events. Highlighted by women’s basketball advancing to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament, along with baseball and tennis adding onto their fantastic starts, here is a recap of last week’s action.
March 15 — W, 53-48 vs Westminster (UT)
It was just over two years ago when the Cougars won the West Region Championship in the 2019 NCAA DII Tournament. Unfortunately, they were unable to defend their title in 2020 after the tournament was canceled. However, with collegiate basketball back in action this season, the reigning West Region champions did it again. After the Cougars’ victory against Westminster, the program won its second championship in the West Region DII bracket, advancing to the Elite Eight of the Champions Tournament.
After a 19-9 advantage after the first period, the Cougars held onto victory despite being outscored 27-17 in the second half. Sophomore guard Paige Uyehara led all Cougars in scoring with 15 points, but what led them to victory was their defensive efforts that transitioned to offense — showcased by their 11 forced turnovers which resulted in 14 points. APU will be playing Lander University at the tournament’s neutral site in Columbus, Ohio on March 23 at 11:45 a.m. (PST).
March 16 — W, 5-1 vs Westmont
Playing Westmont for a fifth time this season, APU baseball won their fifth straight contest over the span of five days. The Cougars advanced their record to 7-2 following the 5-1 victory on Tuesday, highlighted by an offense where seven of the nine batters in their lineup recorded at least one hit. Starting pitcher Brendan Dixon pitched just over four innings and only allowed a run. While relief pitcher David Wylie came in and pitched two scoreless innings to secure the win on his stat sheet, making it his first pitching win of the year.
March 19 — W, 6-4 vs Biola
The Cougars traveled to La Mirada, Calif. to play their Cornerstone Cup rival in the Eagles in their first game of a four-game series made up of two doubleheaders, Designated hitter Joesph Kim continued his strong season, adding four more RBI’s to his season total and increasing his batting average to .417. On the mound, A.J. Woodall had yet another tremendous start after his eight-inning gem the week prior, pitching six innings against the Eagles and only allowing two runs while acquiring six strikeouts.
March 19 — W, 10-8 vs Biola
In the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, APU’s offense needed to play the role of savior after the pitching staff gave up five runs in the span of three innings. However, the Cougars offense showed their playmaking ability early on in the game as well, scoring a total of seven runs heading into the third inning. Ultimately, APU took advantage of Biola’s late-game errors to escape with the win. A passed ball and throwing error led to the Cougars’ final two runs of the game, and the Eagles were unable to respond.
March 20 — W, 11-3 vs Biola
Back home at the Cougar Baseball Complex, the Cougars opened Saturday’s doubleheader in impressive fashion. Although the starting pitching once again struggled in the opening, the Cougars failed to allow a single run past the first inning. Starter David Hays and the bullpen shined following Biola’s initial three runs. The game broke open in the bottom of the fourth when APU scored seven runs in the half-inning — highlighted by a grand slam by Aaron Roose, which was his first such feat in a Cougar uniform.
March 20 — W, 15-3 vs Biola
The Cougars completed the four-game sweep on Saturday night by defeating the Eagles with another late push from the Cougars’ offense. Although Biola scored the first run of the game, the Cougars responded by scoring 15 runs between the third and seventh innings. Third baseman Osvaldo Tovalin was a catalyst for such an offensive push, bringing in five runs alone, while longtime pitching captain Nick Estrella impressed on the mound throwing five innings and striking out six. It was the Cougars’ first four-game sweep against the Eagles since 2007.
March 16 — W, 9-4 vs Biola
Baseball was not the only team this week that got a taste of Biola. Softball played a doubleheader against them on Tuesday, which began with them earning their seventh win of the season. Behind the bat of Kinsey Erickson, who drove in two runs and reached base three times including an RBI triple, the Cougars offense led the charge to an early 8-2 deficit at the end of the third inning. On the mound, Katie Korstrom struck out four batters over three innings of work and secured her fourth victory of the year.
March 16 — W, 8-2 vs Biola
It was much of the same in the second game of the doubleheader. Amanda Woods and Becca Jewett both picked up a pair of RBIs, while center fielder Brielle Fraijo touched home plate three times in the six-run victory. However, it was freshman pitcher Aly Montesino who was the star of the show. Not only did she throw a complete game, but she also impressed at the plate, hitting a two-run double to start the game off for the Cougars.
March 19 — L, 3-1 vs Concordia Irvine
Following their series against Biola, APU softball once again faced a PacWest opponent in the 10th-ranked Concordia Irvine, this time in a four-game series. The first of the four contests saw the Cougars struggle at the plate, as they left eight runners on base, and Concordia pitcher Callie Nunes threw a complete game. Cougars pitcher Liz Phillips threw six innings in which she only gave up two runs, acquiring four strikeouts through those efforts.
March 19 — L, 6-2 vs Concordia Irvine
The Eagles won the PacWest title in 2019 thanks to their talent on the mound. Game one of the doubleheader was a great indicator of that talent, and game two played a role as well. Although the Cougars made it a one-run game in the bottom of the third when Erica Hanson capitalized on a throwing error by the Eagles, Concordia’s Erika Morris limited APU’s offense to only eight hits and left five runners on base in a complete-game effort. Montesino, who was on the mound for APU, threw a complete game herself — the third of her season.
March 20 — L, 7-4 vs Concordia Irvine
Unlike the previous contests before, APU scored the first runs of Saturday’s initial game. Working a four-run top of the third, the Cougars took advantage of key errors from the Eagles defense after Dani Burghardt hit a single to bring a batter in, while the remaining three runs were all unearned. However, it didn’t take long for Concordia to respond as they scored six runs of their own in the bottom half of the third, including a home run from Morris. An extra tally in the bottom of the sixth essentially iced the game for CUI.
March 20 — W, 7-0 vs Concordia Irvine
Although the previous defeat guaranteed a Cougars’ loss in the series, the team responded with complete resilience — along with power. The long ball was the story in the final game of the series, as Montesino, Jewett and Burghardt all homered in the winning effort. Montesino was once again on the mound for the entirety of a game, as she threw a shutout in which she struck out six batters and only gave up three hits.
March 17 — W, 6-1 vs Chapman
Heading into this matchup, APU’s men’s tennis team was ranked ninth in the nation, and they proved their supremacy against Chapman. The doubles point was obtained quickly, as the Cougars were favored accumulatively in three matches by a score of 18-1. In the singles, Sam Sippel won in the No. 2 spot with a 6-1, 6-0 score, while Jacob Schnaitter won in the No. 1 spot with two 6-2 finishes. Ryan Nuno secured the team victory in the No. 3 spot with a 6-2, 6-1 finish.
March 18 — W, 4-0 vs Western New Mexico
The men’s unit continued their impressive start to the season by sweeping the visiting Mustangs. Again, the Cougars secured the double point first, and Caden Samkutty earned the first singles point in the No. 3 spot. It was Sippel who clinched the sweep in the No. 1 match, as he won his first and only set 6-3, giving the Cougars that decisive fourth tally. Men’s tennis was meant to play against Biola on Saturday, but the game was canceled and will be rescheduled.
March 18 — W, 4-0 vs Western New Mexico
The women’s tennis team faced the Mustangs and saw similar results to their male counterparts. The No. 11 ranked Cougars won each of the double matchups by a score of 6-1, giving them the double point. That dominance continued in the singles phase, as Jacky Wagner was in the No. 3 spot, Madison Kane in the No. 4 spot and Petra Ivankovic in the No. 1 spot. They all won their singles matchups, giving the Cougars the 4-0 victory.
March 19 — L, 7-0 vs CSUN
However, the following day was a sweep against the Cougars, and it was away from their home court. Although APU won the No. 3 double matchup with Kane and Courtney Page escaping with a tight 7-6 (13-11) edge, the losses in the No. 1 and 2 spots led to CSUN earning the double point. In the singles portion, APU got swept in straight sets in the No. 6 and 7 matches, and the match was ultimately clinched in the No. 2 singles when Jolene Coetzee defeated Anna Savchenko 6-3, 6-3.
March 18 — L, 15-9 vs California Baptist
Coming off a loss to Fresno State, the Cougars traveled to Riverside, Calif. to take on GCC rival California Baptist, who was 0-8 heading into the matchup. However, it was the Lancers who got the best of APU, thanks to their defensive efforts after forcing 12 steals. The first quarter was a back and forth affair, yet following a decisive second period for the Lancers in which they outscored the Cougars by three goals APU was incapable of crawling their way back into the match. Both Hannah Bradley and Milena Guzman Ortiz scored two goals in the game for Azusa Pacific.
March 20 — W, 20-11 vs Santa Clara
Water polo had a chance to bounce back over the weekend, as they played the Santa Clara Broncos at Glendora High School, which is the temporary home for APU this season. The Cougars escaped with the nine-goal victory. They outscored their opponents in every quarter, including a 5-1 difference in the first. Sophomore Brianna Erickson set a program record as she earned eight individual assists along with a goal. To put that into perspective, the Broncos finished the game with six total assists.
March 18 — W, 3-2 vs Concordia Irvine
Volleyball earned their second victory of the season against the Eagles, and it was their first against any PacWest opponent in 2021. It was a victory well deserved, as the game went to five sets with two of them needing to be settled by a final tally of more than 25 points. Despite being down 2-1, APU won the fourth and fifth sets due to Annaka Jorgenson who finished the game with 19 kills. Defensively, five different Cougars finished with a double-digit total in digs, including libero Bailey Henington who finished with 17.
March 19 — W, 3-1 vs Life Pacific
It ended up being a quick turnaround for APU, who traveled to San Dimas to compete against Life Pacific. Although the Cougars dropped the first set 25-21, they responded by winning the next three sets to escape with the victory. Emma Svagdis finished with a career-high 13 kills, while Katarina Radisic led all Cougar hitters with 18. Henington was once again the star on defense because she finished with 34 digs, making it her eighth game with the program with 30 or more digs.
Women’s Swimming and Diving
March 20 — Pepperdine/Loyola Marymount Results
Azusa Pacific’s women’s swimming and diving team traveled to Malibu. Calif., as swimming encountered their first race action in over a year. Junior Riley Smith was impressive in the lanes, winning the 200 Backstroke race with a 2:30.48 time. She was also able to finish third in both the 200 and 100 Free. As for diving, APU was able to finish one-two-three, highlighted by Melia Stout finishing first in the one-meter (266.02), and Amy Crayne taking first in the three-meter (280.50)