After a rough trip to Hawaii over Spring Break, the Cougars were able to redeem themselves by securing both wins on Friday night. 

Something must have been in the air in Hawaii because it was a whole different story when the Cougars walked onto their home field this Friday.

For context, the Azusa Pacific softball team struggled on their seasonal trip to Hawaii as they went 3-9 against Hawai’i Hilo, Chaminade and Hawai’i Pacific.

But their first game back in Azusa was a step in the right direction as they took the game over Academy of Art, 4-2.

Katie Korstrom stole the show as she went three-for-three with a two-run homer in the fifth inning and also threw nine strikeouts in seven innings while only giving up two runs on two hits.

“I was just out here having a lot of fun today, it was great to see the girls playing hard, I definitely felt good at the plate and just felt like I was seeing the ball well…It was definitely nice coming off of Hawaii because I was a little hit or miss there so coming back and being home in the comfort of our own field and mound was nice,” Korstrom said. “I felt like my spins were moving pretty good today and it was really exciting to see me getting some girls on my rise ball as well.”

Despite a big win after a tough few series in a row, the fun was just getting started. 

It was game two of the day when the Cougars really cracked the game open and started having fun.

In the second half of the doubleheader, APU started the game down two runs heading into the bottom of the first inning. But that was the only time they would let the Urban Knights score the rest of the game. 

In response to Academy of Art’s early lead, the Cougars pieced together four runs on four hits and two errors to take the 4-2 lead. Then the rest became history.

Across the third, fourth, and fifth innings of the game, APU then put together five more runs to secure a 9-2 victory over the Knights.

While the team held it down on offense, Sydnie Sahar took care of business from the mound. The junior left-handed pitcher threw four strikeouts across seven innings of work while collecting her fifth win of the season.

“It felt awesome after struggling in Hawaii a bit so I feel like it was really good to come back and gain some momentum and I feel like our team really came together today…I think we just came around each other really well and played as a team. I felt support from everyone on the team and I think this was just really important,” Sahar said after the game.

Korstrom added, “It was definitely nice to see all the girls relaxed and loose, we know how to play and are confident in ourselves which was a nice turnaround because in Hawaii we were tight and led to some errors and mental mistakes. So it was nice to see everyone relaxed again and playing how we know how to play.” 

And that’s exactly what they did as they secured the doubleheader sweep before facing off against Art U for two more games tomorrow afternoon. 

Head coach Carrie Weber was very happy with the difference in both score and energy on the field for the team which was visibly different from just last week.

She said after the back-to-back wins, “Our week in Hawaii was challenging for sure. We dropped a majority of our games and anytime you’re kind of on that streak of losing you want some kind of catalyst that propels you out of that slump. So we knew that these games were going to be big for us. So it’s nice to be back home and see that we’re turning the corner a little bit. So it’s great that we got these two wins and we just have to keep building off that.”

She added on behalf of the performances she saw out there on the field Friday night, “Although it’s individual performances, it takes a team and if the team’s not cohesive and really working together, then it’s just going to be a constant struggle and fight. And I think we’re starting to find the pieces that are starting to come together and that’s just what you gotta do. Keep fighting or give up and we refuse to give up.” 

Before their trip to Hawaii, the team was 8-5, then following their trip they fell to an 11-14 overall record. But tonight was the much-needed step in the right direction. 

They now advance to a 13-14 overall record with the chance to get back to a winning record with two more wins on Saturday where they will continue their four-game series against Academy of Art. 

And luckily, there’s still plenty of season left for the Cougars to make up for their tough-fought trip to Hawaii.