Here is a rundown of all the athletic excitement from last week.
While there were disappointing finishes for a few APU programs, particularly volleyball’s loss to Biola and water polo’s two defeats, a majority of the Cougar squads experienced tremendous success this week. Both baseball and softball earned impressive series wins, and the swimming and diving roster saw several fantastic finishes from a multitude of players in their first head-to-head meet of the season.
However, track and field stole the show as several runners and field players finished with improved provisional marks, including pole vaulter Amanda Fassold and distance runner Jenny Sandoval who both broke program records in this week’s meet. Here’s a brief recap of every game that APU played during their twelfth week of play.
March 31 — L, 10-5 vs San Diego State
Following a dominant defensive performance in their previous game against Fresno Pacific, APU water polo competed against a similar defensive effort in the form of No. 15 San Diego State, losing to the Aztecs 10-5. While the Cougars scored first only 40 seconds in the game, a brilliant play by Britni Tisdale, the story of the match was a 7-0 scoring run from San Diego State. With a 2-1 lead midway through the first quarter, the Cougars failed to score again until 3:55 in the third despite five penalties against the Aztecs. San Diego State, on the other hand, took advantage of APU’s penalties and scored on four of their five power-play chances. Skylar Ford was the only Cougar to score more than one goal, as she scored twice and secured an assist as well.
April 2 — L, 19-5 vs Pacific
Ranked at No. 21 in the nation heading into Friday, the Cougars were steadily handled by the University of the Pacific, who is ranked No. 13. It took only 15 seconds for the Tigers to get on the board, which was the start to a 3-0 advantage once the first quarter came to an end. From that point on, the Tigers outscored APU 16-5. Four Tiger players scored three or more goals on the final stat sheet, while the Cougars didn’t see a player score multiple goals throughout the entirety of the contest. The best individual performance for APU came from Brianna Erickson, as she forced three steals.
March 31 — L, 3-0 vs Biola
After an undefeated start to the season, the Cougars suffered a setback against Biola after being swept in a three-set affair. Although APU’s Annaka Jorgenson led the game with eight kills, the biggest indicator of Biola’s dominance throughout the game was their efficiency on offense. The Cougars finished with a .106 (27-for-85) hitting percentage, compared to the Eagles who earned a .303 (41-for-89) hitting percentage. With this, Biola finished the game with 10 aces compared to the Cougars’ two. After suffering their first loss of the season due to their inability to match their opponent’s aggressiveness, learning from those mistakes will be key in their next matchup against Concordia Irvine — a team that took them to an exciting five-set finish in March.
April 1 — W, 4-0 vs Concordia Irvine
The No. 9 Cougars continued their impressive start to the season after a 4-0 sweep over No. 23 Concordia Irvine, which was their first contest of the season against the PacWest rival, to improve their record to 9-2. The double point was picked up after an impressive performance from the No. 1 spot, as Petra Ivankovic and Anna Savchenko easily acquired the 6-1 victory, followed by a clinching 6-2 win from Jacky Wagner and Carolyn Brooner at the No. 2 spot. Brooner and Wagner continued to be important factors in the singles portion of the match, as they both secured victories in their individual spots — including a match securing point from Wagner in the No. 3 spot. True freshman Madison Kane also won in the No. 5 slot with a score of 6-1, 6-0.
Acro and Tumbling
April 1 — W, 277.015-260.315 vs Arizona Christian
Coming off an emotional high after their victory over Oregon, acro and tumbling continued to impress in their second meet of the season. In fact, it was close to perfect. In the 17-point victory, the Cougars ended up winning all six events. In every acro and pyramid event, the Cougars scored a 9.70 or higher, and in the 5-element heat the team of Jessica Gill, Hannah Alonzo, Katrina Gonzalez and Quincey Eisaman scored a 9.90. With an already decisive lead, the Cougars continued to jump ahead in the toss event after putting up a 9.85 in the open toss heat. A 54.985 score in the tumbling event ended things for APU, as the program has now advanced to 4-0 against Arizona Christian all-time.
April 1 — W, 8-0 vs Redlands
Despite their previous matchup ending in a dominant pitching performance against them, the Cougars offense responded in commanding fashion. With Liz Phillips in the circle, the offense took very little time in giving her run support after a four-run first inning, highlighted by five straight singles before the Bulldogs even recorded a single out. The 4-0 lead increased to 8-0 in the third, as both Aleah Delgado and Becca Jewett went yard in that bottom inning. Ultimately, the game concluded under mercy rule as the Bulldogs were incapable of scoring a run in the top of the fifth. Phillips ended the game after giving up only two hits over four innings, which was enough to secure the victory. Her record in 2021 is now 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA over 33.1 innings pitched.
April 1 — W, 3-1 vs Redlands
The nightcap of the doubleheader ended with a similar result, but not in such a dominant fashion. The bats were nowhere near as hot in the second affair, as the Cougars held a precarious 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth after Dani Burghardt’s solo home run in the second. Yet, the Cougars opened it up in the sixth when Keelie Koepp and Ally Chin both hit RBI singles to make it a 3-0 deficit. Although the Bulldogs scored a run in the top of the final inning after a throwing error from APU, Katie Korstrom entered the circle and closed the game out, picking up her first save of the season. Aly Montesino was on the mound for the Cougars, not allowing an earned run and striking out five over the span of 6.1 innings of work. She continued her impressive campaign, improving her record to 5-3 and advancing to a 1.48 ERA over 66.1 innings thrown — a total that is nearly double compared to any other pitcher on the roster.
April 2 — W, 8-5 vs Point Loma
Facing another PacWest rival in the span of three weeks, the Cougars hoped to continue their recent stretch of success as they battled Point Loma in a four-game series. Game one was a back and forth affair through the first four innings, as a solo home run by first baseman Evan Banks gave APU an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. The Sea Lions responded in the top of the third after an RBI groundout. A 7-0 scoring run for the Cougars occurred between the fifth and seventh innings, which essentially secured the victory. However, Point Loma ended up making a brief comeback in the final two innings, going on a 4-0 scoring run of their own. Casey Dykstra, who started the game at center field and brought in two runs at the plate, finished the game on the mound and secured the save. Pitcher AJ Woodall advanced his record to 4-0, pitching seven full innings and striking out five batters while only giving up one run.
April 2 — W, 7-0 vs Point Loma
In the second game of the day’s doubleheader, APU won their 16th game of the season. This score may create the illusion that the Cougars dominated the contest from start to finish; however, it was the team’s execution in a single inning that proved to be the difference. Through the first four innings, the game was defined by both teams’ pitching performances as the score was stuck at 0-0. In the bottom of the fifth the Cougars scored all seven of their runs, mainly thanks to the bats of freshman Spencer Rasmussen and senior Nick Estrella who both hit two-run home runs. Nevertheless, the defining performance of the game came from senior Cory Dawson who pitched a five-hit complete-game shutout and struck out seven, while also failing to walk a single Point Loma batter.
April 3 — W, 8-4 vs Point Loma
After two of the strongest starting pitching performances of the season, the third game of the series was heavily reliant on the use of the Cougars’ bullpen. Brendan Dixon started his fourth game of the season, but relief pitcher Hayden Merda earned his first victory of the season after two scoreless innings of work. In total, APU used five different arms in the victory, which is tied for second when considering the number of pitchers used in a game all season. The bats, on the other hand, were once again able to turn a slight lead into a commanding one. With a 3-2 lead heading into the top of the seventh, the Cougars had the bases loaded with only one out. With Zachary Veen stepping into a relief role for PLNU, freshman Omar Lopez swung at the first pitch of the at-bat and hit a home run down the left-field line, giving Lopez his first collegiate career grand slam. The 7-2 lead eventually turned into an 8-4 favor, and while the Sea Lions had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Korey Shepard forced the final strikeout of the game and gave APU the series win.
April 3 — L, 2-1 vs Point Loma
With the series win already clinched, the Cougars hoped to earn their second four-game series sweep of the season as team captain Estrella was on the bump. However, Point Loma in the second at-bat of the game got a piece of Estrella’s fastball and hit a solo shot to open the scoring. Still leading 1-0, the Sea Lions made it a two-run deficit in the bottom of the fourth after a sacrifice fly. However, those two scores were the only runs given up by Estrella as he earned a complete-game performance despite being given the loss. For the first time in the series, the Cougars’ offense was the stumbling block because they were only able to score in the final inning thanks to Banks’ second solo home run of the series. Nevertheless, a majority of the credit belonged to PLU starter Dylan Miller, who advanced his season record to 3-0 and threw a complete game. Throwing a total of 100 pitches, Miller only allowed four hits throughout the entirety of the contest and struck out seven Cougars.
Swimming and Diving
April 3 — W, 136.5-106.5 vs Westmont
In their first dual meet of the season, APU’s swimmers defeated Westmont with a strong 30 point favor. There were a total of 14 events during the meet, and the Cougars were able to escape with victories in 10 of them. The 400-yard medley relay, which was the first event of the day, exposed the framework behind how the rest of the meet would go. A combined time of 4:10.89 in the event claimed 11 points for APU. They continued to build on after a first-place finish in the 200-yard free gave them nine more points as Emily Rigsby posted a time of 2:01.20. In the 100-yard breasts, the Cougars finished one-two after Delaine Gearing placed first and Holly Williams claimed second. While both Rigsby and Gearing earned 40 individual points in the winning effort after four first-place finishes, junior Tessie Scavone matched those exact numbers by the meet’s end as well.
Track and Field
April 3 — APU Invitational Results
It was another fantastic weekend for APU’s track and field team as two athletes set records in their home invitational meet. Breaking her own record once again, the nation’s No. 1 pole vaulter Amanda Fassold cleared 14’ (4.27m) and beat her previous mark of 13’ 9 ¼” (4.20m) which she set just a week ago. While Jenny Sandoval, who is a transfer student from San Jose State, finished with a 16:01.41 time in the 5k event. Not only was the time an automatic qualifying time for the Outdoor Nationals this season, but it was also a program record. Jaylah Walker also had an exceptional day. She set personal records in the 200 and 400-meter races, placing her at No. 3 in the nation.
As for the men, Daniel Bessolo stole the show for his efforts in the 400. His 47.07 finish was a personal best, and he is now ranked No. 4 in the nation. Two of the brightest spots on the Cougars roster, sophomores Jermel Jones II and Raymon Harper, also improved on their previous provisional marks. In the triple jump, Jones II finished with a 48′ 3 ½” distance, which was his second provisional mark of the meet after carrying similar success in the high jump event. Harper earned his first provisional mark of his young season in the high jump as well, clearing 6′ 9″ (2.06m).