Softball begins conference play against Utah

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    By Evelyn Burns

    The BYU softball team opens conference play with a doubleheader against the University of Utah at Miller Field on Saturday beginning at noon.

    The Men”s and Women”s Athletic Departments are honoring BYU President Merrill J. Bateman”s service to the university by having him throw the honorary pitch to begin the first game.

    BYU is on an 11-game winning streak, breaking a school record and bringing the team”s record to 20-7. The team received three votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll, placing it at No. 32 in the country.

    BYU”s players have improved their play in the last couple of weeks.

    In her first career weekly honor, sophomore catcher Lauren Watson was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week. Watson received the honor because of her spectacular play last weekend in the New Mexico Invitational Tournament. Watson went 10-16 with a .625 batting average. She also leads the team in hits with 32.

    Junior All-American Oli Keohohou leads the conference in multiple categories. Keohohou leads with a .419 batting average, 29 runs scored, 71 total bases, .959 slugging percentage, 3 triples, 24 walks, .560 on-base percentage, 26 RBIs and 10 home runs.

    Senior Brooke Cadiente has a batting average of .329, seven home runs and 25 RBIs this season.

    On Tuesday, the Cougars took on UVSC in a double-header scrimmage, winning 13-0 and 8-0 in five innings.

    “We had a good practice for our hitters,” coach Gordon Eakin said. “We did not get a lot of mental conditioning on Tuesday, though.”

    BYU comes into the doubleheader against the Utes after five wins this weekend in the recent New Mexico Invitational Tournament.

    “We”re all working hard this week to compete against the style of play that Utah brings to the game,” Eakin said. “These are not life or death games, but it is important for us to come out on top early in the season.”

    Utah comes into conference play with a 10-16. The Utes are in last place in the MWC, though they were picked No. 2 in the MWC in the coaches” pre-season poll.

    Utes players to look for are senior Niki Hayhurst, who leads the team with nine multiple hit games this season, and pitcher Jen Pursell, who has only given up 17 earned runs in 14 appearances on the mound.

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