McKenna Bull leads BYU softball to conference dominance

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Ari Davis
McKenna Bull delivers a pitch to home plate last season. Bull is currently 19-4 with a 1.66 ERA. (Ari Davis)

The BYU softball team has dominated the West Coast Conference this season, and senior pitcher McKenna Bull has played a major part in the Cougars’ rise to the top.

The Cougars have claimed every WCC softball title (the conference added softball in 2014) with a 37-7 conference record coming into the 2017 season.

“The excitement of being in a game is what I live for,” Bull said. “Being on a team where I can do that and also have support behind me is awesome.”

Bull went 16-9 with a 3.15 ERA her freshman year, helping BYU win the conference and make another NCAA Regionals appearance.

She followed the impressive start with 34-9 and 27-13 records her sophomore and junior years with ERAs under 2.65. The 34 wins from her sophomore season set the record for most wins in a single season in BYU history.

Bull has been named WCC Pitcher of the Week seven times this season, including a stretch of three consecutive honors from March 20 to April 3.

“It’s a huge honor to be named Pitcher of the Week,” Bull said. “There are so many awesome pitchers, not only on this team but in our conference. To have the opportunity to be named Pitcher of the Week three times in a row is awesome.”

Beyond winning another conference title, the Cougars are preparing to make a deep postseason run behind Bull.

Wins against No. 13 Washington and No. 11 Utah showed the team is capable of advancing come tournament time.

“The win against Washington was kind of a big deal for us,” Bull said. “We were coming into the season and starting against some of the best teams in the country, so for us to get that win against Washington really set us off for the season.”

Bull pitched a complete game against the Huskies, giving up two runs off seven hits in the 4-2 win.

“We have the potential to go very deep in the postseason,” Bull said. “This is one of the best teams I’ve ever played on. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

After the upset of No. 11 Utah, Bull pitched another complete game against Dartmouth. The 4-0 win gave Bull her No. 92 win, passing Paige Affleck as BYU’s all-time winningest pitcher.

“To break that record is a big deal,” Bull said. “It’s a huge honor seeing that Paige Affleck is the one who previously held it, and she’s such an amazing pitcher.”

Bull struck out the first batter she saw in a home game against Pacific to give her 900 career strikeouts just a few weeks later. She pitched five innings in the 10-0 win, giving up just two hits and striking out six batters altogether.

The win was No. 27 for Bull this season, keeping her on pace to overtake the single season record of 34 she set in 2015. It was career win No. 96 for Bull.

Just two weeks later, Bull became the first BYU pitcher to reach 100 wins with a 9-0 victory over San Diego.

As of May 2, Bull is on a 15-game winning streak. During that stretch, she has set a record with 36.2 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

She has also set career records for shutouts, saves, innings pitched and complete games pitched at BYU.

Bull is focusing on finishing the season and enjoying her final weeks at Gail Miller Field despite the multitude of awards and accomplishments.

“I’ve learned a lot of good lessons here, and I’ve grown a lot as a softball player and as a person. I’m leaving here with a lot of opportunities,” Bull said. “I have no regrets.”

Bull said there may be some opportunities to continue playing softball after BYU, but for now, she is focusing on graduating with her degree in family studies and pursuing a graduate degree in communications.