By Sascha Wheatley
The BYU softball team caught plenty of fly balls, and rays, this weekend as they hailed victorious over four of the five teams they were matched against at the Speedline Invitational Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.
The four-day tournament started well for the Cougars, as they beat the University of Illinois Chicago Flames 8-7 before finishing off the Bulls of University of Buffalo 4-1 in Thursday?s kickoff games.
Against the Flames, BYU took an early 5-2 lead but slowed down in the fifth inning. The Cougars were down by two runs by the end of the inning, but Junior Ashlyn Russell pulled through with two home runs by the end of the night, bringing BYU the 8-7 win.
BYU bats were again in full swing during Thursday?s second game with the Bulls as senior Ariel Capra and sophomore Ranae Clarke drove in some hits while pitcher Summer Tobias contributed on the mound.
Friday faired less favorable for BYU with the University of Massachusetts earning the 1-2 win despite head coach Gordon Eakin?s insistence that the Cougars are the better team. BYU led 1-0 up to the fifth inning, when UMass managed to score on a costly Cougar error, tying things up. Tobias allowed two hits later on, giving up a run and resulting in a loss to BYU.
However, bouncing back proved easy for the team as Saturday?s double-header brought in a 4-0 victory over Jacksonville and a 5-2 win over Purdue.
?We stumbled last night, for our second loss of the season, but played really well today,? Eakin said. ?Purdue is a good team, and we played really well against them.?
Eakin attributed the win to strong pitching with freshman Daniella Urincho, performing six shutout innings before giving up one hit to the University of Jacksonville. Senior Niki Anderson entered her first game of the season in the final inning, also relinquishing just one hit. Junior Paige Paramore also had a key hit to get the team off offensively, Eakin said.
In the final game of the tournament, junior Brooke Boyce and Tobias allowed three hits and one run, respectively. Lauren Watson-Perry and Capra both made a major impact in the game?s outcome with the help of Russel.
?[Russel] is swinging the bat well right now but also playing a good third base,? Eakin said.
The Cougars (15-2) are gearing up to play in the Capital Classic next week in Sacramento, Calif.