Cougar catch-up: Last week in sports

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The Azusa Pacific softball team went 3-2 at the Tournament of Champions last weekend. Junior catcher Madison Hernandez, left, led the offensive charge, going 6-for-10, with seven RBIs in the five games. Photo credit: Steven Mercado

The month of April is a big one for APU sports. However, many games are on the road, and toward the end of the semester, schedules become packed and making it to any sports game becomes difficult. To keep you current on Cougar sports, The Clause will provide weekly updates in each issue.

Here’s what happened the week of March 31 to April 6.

Baseball
The baseball team began the week on Tuesday, April 1 in the exhibition game against Los Angeles Dodgers’ Class A-Advanced Minor League Baseball affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Cougars lost 10-1, their lone run coming from an RBI groundout from sophomore left fielder Mitch Dergazarian that scored junior second baseman Blake James. James went 2-for-2 on the night.

On Thursday, April 3, the Cougars started a four-game road series against Dixie State. APU opened the series with a 12-9 comeback victory against the Red Storm.

The Red Storm smashed the Cougars in the bottom of the fourth with five runs from five hits to jump to an 8-2 lead. APU answered with a storm of its own in the top of the fifth with an eight-run inning that resulted in a 10-8 lead before finishing the game with two more runs in the top of the seventh for the 12-9 win.

The baseball team faced the Red Storm again Friday, April 4 for a doubleheader and was swept 12-4 and 12-11. Dixie State senior right fielder Kris Kaplan went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and senior first baseman Tyler Blair went 3-for-5 with four RBIs to lead their team to victory in game one. Junior designated hitter Kevin Kline led the Red Storm in the nightcap, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs.

In Friday’s sweep, junior pitcher Zach Hedges allowed the most runs he has in a game all season, giving up all 12 runs in five innings to Dixie State in game one. Junior pitcher Adam McCreery allowed seven runs off nine hits in four innings.

The Cougars’ top performer in Friday’s doubleheader was senior right fielder Matt Kimmel, going 4-for-8 with three RBIs.

APU ended the series strong Saturday, defeating Dixie State 5-2 to secure the series split. Sophomore pitcher Joel Belk pitched the strongest game of the series, going the full nine innings and allowing two runs and seven hits.

Azusa Pacific now holds a 20-12 record and looks forward to Saturday, April 12 when the team will begin a weeklong trip to Hawaii. Their matchup will be a doubleheader on Saturday against Hawai’i Pacific.

Softball
The softball team had a five-game weekend at the Tournament of Champions in Turlock, Calif. The tournament against Central Washington and Western Washington began Friday, April 4. The morning game against Central Washington ended in a 3-0 loss for the Cougars.

The Wildcats scored their first run in the fourth inning through two singles, a walk and a wild pitch. They then hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning that sealed the deal. Central Washington freshman pitcher Kiana Wood allowed only four hits in her complete game shutout against the Cougars.

The Cougars did not have trouble producing runs in their second game of the day, but Western Washington’s bats got the better of freshman pitcher Carly Xepoleas in her complete game effort by scoring five runs in the fifth and sixth innings, resulting in a 7-6 loss to the Vikings.

Junior catcher Madison Hernandez was a top performer for the Cougars on offense, going 2-for-3 with two solo home runs.

Saturday, Azusa Pacific bounced back and won all three of its games. The Cougars began the day with a 4-2 win over Simon Fraser. The team was led by a strong complete game performance from junior pitcher Destinee Levesque, giving up seven hits and two runs while striking out six and only walking one.

The Cougars narrowly won their next game against Western Oregon, 4-3. The key in the victory was a three-run fifth inning for APU, highlighted by an error in the outfield that allowed Chavez and Chappelle to score on a fly ball from junior second baseman Katrina Oviedo and a single from Hernandez that scored Oviedo.

The final game of the tournament was against St. Martin’s, and Azusa Pacific brought its strongest performance of the tournament to defeat the Saints 10-3. Hernandez led the Cougars with three RBIs and freshman third baseman Nicki Sprague went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

The softball team looks forward to Thursday, April 10 when it will head to San Rafael, Calif., to face Dominican.

Men’s tennis
The men’s tennis team boasted back-to-back home sweeps Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5 against Point Loma and UC Riverside, respectively. The sweep against Point Loma was an improvement from Feb. 7‘s 5-4 victory over the Sea Lions as the No. 10-ranked Cougars continue to improve as the regular season comes to a close.

Leading the team are the Cougars’ No. 1 and 2 singles players: No. 5-ranked sophomore Jan Meyer and No. 7-ranked senior and team captain Freddy Wilkens. The players share the team lead in wins with 17, which is also the number of victories in Wilkens’ current winning streak.

Meyer and junior Gary Yam are undefeated as No. 1 doubles partners in the six matches they have played so far this season. Current No. 2 doubles team of Wilkens and sophomore Tomas Aranguiz lead Azusa Pacific’s doubles teams in wins with 10 and the team’s two freshmen, Pascal Engel and Alan Leahy, currently hold a 3-1 record at the No. 3 doubles spot.

The team will play its final two regular-season matches this week, starting with Wednesday, April 9’s home match against Biola, which is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.

Women’s tennis
The No. 13-ranked women’s tennis team had a strong week as well. It began the week on Monday, March 31 with a 7-2 win over Cal State Los Angeles. The team took two of three doubles matches to begin, then five of six singles matches for the dominant win over the Golden Eagles.

Senior Kim Koetterheinrich had a key performance, winning her fifth straight singles match in a three-set match (3-6, 6-3, 6-3) to seal the win over Cal State LA.

The Cougars notched their second win of the week on Friday, April 4 with a 7-2 win over Point Loma. APU jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, but the Sea Lions jumped on the Cougars early in each match. There were four three-set matches and in each one, Point Loma won the first set before Azusa Pacific battled back to win each.

Five of the six Cougars’ singles players currently have more than 10 wins. Leading the team in victories is freshman Natalie Johnson with 16. The recent No. 1 doubles team of Johnson and captain and senior Emily Harris currently holds a 4-0 record.

Water polo
The water polo team has a 14-17 record after falling to the Cal Baptist Lancers Friday, April 4 with a 13-4 score. The Cougars fell into an early 5-0 hole that they could not escape. The team only scored once in the first half and the most it scored in a quarter was two in the third. The players were held scoreless in the first nine minutes of play and could not break through.

Junior driver Alyssa Hess, senior utility player Allison Gonzalez and junior utility player Taylor Whitney each scored in the loss.

The water polo team looks forward to finishing the regular season with three home matches. The team will have two matches Saturday, April 12 against Golden Coast Conference opponent Loyola Marymount and Chapman, and finishes its regular-season schedule against San Diego State.

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