Here is a rundown of all the athletic excitement from last week.
One of the strongest weeks of the season for men’s tennis continued their phenomenal season as their record has now advanced to 14-3. Acro and tumbling finished their regular season undefeated and will be the top team in the nation heading into the NCATA National Tournament. Here’s a brief recap of every game that APU played during their twelfth week of play.
April 6 — L, 5-0 vs Concordia Irvine
Concordia Irvine and Azusa Pacific entered the first match of their doubleheader in very similar positions. CUI held a 12-7 record, along with a 6-6 record in PacWest play heading into the game, while the Cougars were 12-8 overall including a 5-7 inner-conference record. Yet, the final box score failed to show the equality between the two squads, and that was especially true in the first two innings. Although Aly Montesino’s pitching has been a highlight for the Cougars this season, she struggled in the circle in her start last Tuesday because she only pitched 1.1 innings and gave up four earned runs during that span. As for APU’s offense, they finished the game with just three singles and were ineffective from the start.
April 6 — L, 5-2 vs Concordia Irvine
It was another frustrating result in the nightcap of the doubleheader as another slow start for the offense plagued the Cougars. Concordia Irvine scored their first runs in the top of the third with McKinsey Thorpe hitting a bases-clearing triple to bring in two. They added three more in the fifth and sixth, making it a 5-0 deficit. Although Montesino hit a double in the bottom of the sixth to score the team’s first runs of the two-game series, the Cougars left two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh to lose the second contest by three runs. Liz Phillips was in the circle for the Cougars, and while she was credited for giving up four of the five runs, the defense behind her failed to help as APU finished the game with five errors.
April 7 — W, 9-1 vs Chapman
Needing a response after the two-game sweep to the Eagles, APU redeemed themselves the following day with a commanding performance against Chapman. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Cougars offense finally began to produce as they secured 15 hits by the end of the game. After Montesino — who was in the circle yet again — hit a two-run home run that crushed past the center-field wall in the third, a four-run inning in the fourth gave APU an 8-1 lead. An RBI double by Aleah Delgado the next inning led to a mercy rule finish. While the offense was certainly on full display, so was Montesino’s pitching performance as she bounced back following her disappointing start the day before.
April 7 — W, 10-3 vs Chapman
While the second game didn’t end under the mercy rule, it was yet another strong offensive game for APU. It was an immediate show of strength for the Cougars’ batters, as they scored a whopping six runs in the first two innings. APU continued to work fantastic at-bats throughout those two innings, especially Keelie Koepp, who finished the game 2 for 3 at the plate and added two RBI’s to her season total. While Chapman responded with three runs of their own in the top of the third, four runs in the bottom of the fourth by the Cougars increased the deficit to seven, which ended up being the final score of the game.
April 9 — L, 13-11 vs Biola
After sweeping the Eagles in their previous four-game series in mid-March, the Cougars found themselves in an offensive battle against their Cornerstone rival in the first game of their second series of 2021. In a 24-run affair, it was APU who found themselves to be on the losing side. The offensive numbers that the Cougars registered were certainly more than enough to secure their 18th victory of the season. APU hit seven home runs in the game, which was easily their highest total in a single contest this season. APU starter AJ Woodall pitched 5.1 innings, and while he was credited for those first three runs, he was able to keep runners on base for the most part because he only gave up three runs on eight hits. However, it was the bullpen who struggled to do the same as six relievers came out of the pen and gave up 10 runs, including a six-run seventh inning.
April 9 — W, 14-0 vs Biola
APU continued their offensive onslaught in game two, while Biola failed to maintain that level of superiority due to the arm of Cory Dawson. Starting on the mound for APU, the senior pitcher shut down a previously hot offense and pitched a complete game shutout. It was his fourth earned win of the season — advancing his regular-season record to 4-0 — as he only allowed three hits while striking out a season-high ten batters. Osvaldo Tovalin, who was formerly named PacWest Player of the Week, went a perfect four for four from the plate in which he added four RBIs. The only Cougar that secured more RBIs was Nick Estrella who finished the game with five — all of them a product of his two home runs in the matchup.
April 11 — L, 7-3 vs Biola
With the offense having quite possibly their best two-game stretch so far this season, the Cougars traveled to La Mirada, Calif. to play their third and fourth games of the series. A three-run bottom of the second gave the Eagles an early lead. Yet, in the fifth inning, the Cougars tied the game after taking advantage of two costly errors by Biola, including a passed ball that brought home Aaron Roose as the game-tying runner. What resulted was a bullpen game, as each team’s relief pitchers came into the contest and did a phenomenal job at restricting both offenses. Freshman David Hays had his best outing of the season, coming into the eighth and pitching 2.2 innings while striking out six batters without giving up a hit. Neither team scored a run after nine innings, and the game reached the 12th inning still knotted at three. Casey Dykstra, who has been used as both an outfielder and relief pitcher throughout the season, was on the mound in the bottom of the 12th in which he gave up a game-winning grand slam to Eagle batter Brandon Cody.
April 11 — Unfinished, 7-6 APU lead vs Biola
The fourth and final game of the series was once again a tight battle. While APU was incapable of getting a baserunner on board through the first three innings, Spencer Rasmussen’s single brought in APU’s first run to take an early lead. However, Biola answered back in the same inning after forcing a run against the Cougars’ starter in Estrella. From there, both offenses began to find their momentum. In the top of the seventh inning down two, the Cougars were able to climb out of their hole and regain the lead after a Joseph Kim double that brought in the game-tying run. A Rasmussen sacrifice fly brought in pinch-runner Jeffrey Castillo and APU was now leading 7-6 heading into the bottom of the final inning. The Eagles were unable to respond because play was suddenly suspended due to the darkness of the field, which was mainly a product of the previous game lasting longer than expected. There has yet to be an update on the finality of the game, and it should be expected that play will reach its conclusion following a schedule shift in the near future.
April 6 — W, 4-1 vs Biola
The Cougars continued their impressive stretch of victories after defeating Biola 4-1 on Tuesday. The Eagles have never beaten the Cougars in their all-time matchup record, and that trend continued early on in this game as APU earned the doubles point. Biola secured the first victory in the doubles portion at the No. 2 spot. However, a clutch No. 3 victory from the team of Ryan Nuno and Cole Rassner led to the No. 1 team of Jakob Schnaitter and Leyton Bohren securing the point with the tie-breaking 7-6 (7-5) finish. Although the Cougars were unable to finish with the clean sweep of the Eagles, the game concluded after Schnaitter conquered Biola’s Alexei Prokopchuk with a 6-0, 6-4 to earn the fourth and decisive point.
April 9 — W, 4-0 vs Concordia Irvine
APU picked up a third clean sweep within the span of four games on Friday as they earned a second victory against the Eagles this season. The doubles point was picked up after the Cougars won two straight matchups, as once again the team of Schnaitter and Bohren clinched the point victory. Nuno continued his impressive stretch of victories in this game and was the first Cougar player to add a point towards the individual efforts. So far this season, Nuno has won 11 of his 15 matches played in the No. 3 spot. After Schnaitter won the third point for APU, Bohren clinched the contest after winning his match in the No. 4 spot 6-3, 7-5, resulting in the No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 matches going unfinished.
April 10 — W, 4-1 vs Point Loma
After only a day-long break the Cougars traveled to San Diego to take on Point Loma, which is a squad they swept 6-0 in early March. It was much of the same result in Saturday afternoon’s contest because the Sea Lions had no opportunity to take control of the game. While the Cougars lost the doubles point for the first time this week, APU was able to handily grab momentum back in the singles portion of the contest. Sam Sippel earned his first finished match of the week in the No. 2 spot. He made quick work of Yuki Okamoto by a 6-0, 6-1 finish. Rassner clinched the win just a few moments later as his 6-3, 6-3 favor gave the Cougars a ninth straight win. After possibly their best week-long stretch of 2021, expect to see the Cougars — who were ranked No. 7 in DII by the ITA national rankings at the start of the week — continue to jump higher in the ranks within the next few days.
April 10 — W, 4-0 vs Point Loma
After their match against Cal Lutheran was canceled last Wednesday, women’s tennis only played one game this week, which resulted in an easy victory for APU. Entering the week as the No. 9 women’s team in the nation, the Cougars continued their perfect record against PacWest opponents in Saturday’s triumph. APU started the game by securing the doubles point. This was the third consecutive match in which they were able to do so. After receiving player of the week honors a week ago, Jacky Wagner provided APU with the first single point of the matchup in the No. 3 spot. Carolyn Brooner ended things for the Cougars in the No. 4 spot with yet another dominant finish for APU, as she won 6-1, 6-2. The Cougars season will conclude next week with two home contests, which will lead to the PacWest Conference Tournament being played on April 21. in Surprise, Ariz.
April 6 — L, 3-1 vs Concordia Irvine
Responding to a surprising 3-0 defeat to Biola last week, volleyball looked to redeem themselves last Tuesday against a team who took them to the brink in a five-set victory in March. Unfortunately for the Cougars, this time Concordia Irvine had their number on home court. Despite a 25-20 win in the first set for APU, it was all CUI for the remainder of the game. They took the second, third and fourth sets by the same exact score — 25-18. Similar to their loss to Biola last week, this game was defined for APU by their opponents’ offensive production and service aggression. Azusa Pacific’s .191 (46-for-152) hitting percentage was outmatched by Concordia’s .286 (60-for-161) percentage. Similarly, the aces total favored the Eagles by a 10-1 difference.
April 9 — W, 3-2 vs Westmont
Needing to redeem themselves after suffering two straight defeats for the first time this season, the Cougars played Westmont, who entered the game with a 13-0 record. A 10-point defeat in the first set for APU was followed by an intense 25-23 defeat in the following set. Down 2-0, the only way APU could have secured the much-needed victory was with three straight set victories. The third set needed five extra points for the Cougars to remain in the game, as they won by a 30-28 finish. Heading into the fourth set, it was another close call that once again favored APU after the 25-22 finish. Throughout the tense fifth and final set, it was a back-and-forth stretch. Tied at 16, the Cougars scored two straight points securing the come from behind victory and advancing their record to 6-2. Annaka Jorgenson was the Cougars’ best attacking player, finishing with a season-high 27 kills. Bailey Henington provided a defensive gem for APU, as she finished with a game-high 30 digs.
Acro and Tumbling
April 10 — W, 282.765-265.445 vs Arizona Christian
This regular season has been one to remember for the acro and tumbling program. Although there were only three meets this season, each one continued to show improvements in this team. So much so that they were ranked as the No. 1 team in the country by the NCATA for the second time in program history. On Saturday, the Cougars secured their undefeated regular season record of 3-0 after conquering Arizona Christian for the second time this season. Coming out of halftime, the Cougars’ first-half lead only continued to grow, and their efforts in both the tumbling and team events transcended a lengthy lead into borderline domination. When the meet came to a close, the Cougars celebrated the six seniors who would be graduating following the season — as those six performed at the FEC for the final time of their career. However, the celebration will need to be short-lived because they will be battling in the NCATA National Tournament as the first seed in the four-team bracket on April 22 in Waco, Texas.
Track and Field
April 9 & 10 — Franson Classic Multi and Track Races
For the first time this season, the Cougars’ decathletes had their chance to shine this past weekend in the Franson Classic. Two women who made major splashes were Meagan and Nicole Warwick. Meagan proved to be the star of the first day, as she ran career-best times in the 100m and 200m hurdles races. In total, Meagan’s finished total of 5,321 points was enough to automatically qualify for the Outdoor Nationals. Nicole, on the other hand, made an appearance in a heptathlon event for the first time in three years due to a multitude of injuries keeping her sidelined. When the meet concluded, Nicole had reached a provisional mark for potential qualification in the Outdoor Nationals.
On the men’s side, the decathlon event was highlighted by Lincoln Krog. The freshman had a phenomenal first day, as through five events he scored 3,545 points, including a strong 806 point showing in the 100 meters race. When all was said and done, his 6,560 points were able to achieve a provisional standard. In three events — 100 meters (11.25), 400 meters (51.23) and 1500 meters (4:56.16) — Krog finished 17th on the Outdoor qualifying list.