By Kyle Aldous
The BYU baseball team (15-11) will head to Tempe, Ariz. for the Diamond Devil Invitational this weekend.
This will be the sixth and final tournament for the Cougars this season before they begin playing home games.
This weekend, the Cougars will be playing at full strength and are happy to have pitcher Christie Zinanti back at full strength after she suffered an injury several weeks ago.
The Cougars will begin the weekend by playing Arizona State Thursday at 7:00 p.m. This game is a preliminary to the tournament and is not part of the invitational.
The Sun Devils (29-5) are ranked No. 7 in the nation and had a 15-game winning streak earlier in the season. The game against Arizona State will give the Cougars an opportunity to play a team that is experienced in post-season play.
The Sun Devels made it through several rounds in last year”s Women”s College World Series. They will provide the Cougars their greatest challenge this weekend.
“To beat them, we need to play perfect softball-they have a very experienced team and play well in all aspects of the game,” BYU coach Gordon Eakin said.
Tournament play begins Friday morning at 11:30 when the Cougars take on Illinois (16-10). The last time these teams faced off, the Cougars won 11-9 during the Louisville Slugger Classic. They will look for a repeat performance this time around.
Later in the afternoon the Cougars will once again square off against the host team, Arizona State, at 4:30 p.m.
“Illinois has been on a roll lately, and we will need to play strong against them to get the victory,” Eakin said.
Saturday at 11:30 a.m. the Cougars will face Illinois once more, hoping to sweep them this season. Tournament play will end with the Cougars playing the Longwood Lancers (10-5) at 2:00 p.m.
“We need to avoid injuries this weekend,” Eakin said. “We already have a smaller team, and it is important for us to be healthy as we head into conference play in the next couple of weeks,” Eakin said.