After a hard-fought tournament last week, the BYU softball team came out strong offensively this weekend in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, hitting .337 as a team and hitting seven home runs in five games.
Top performers this weekend included senior outfielder Delaney Willard, who brought her home run tally to seven, including a grand slam to help BYU top Cal State Northridge on the second day of the tournament. Senior catcher Stacie Toney also had a huge weekend for the Cougars offensively, hitting .600 with two doubles and one home run, while also driving in six runs.
The tournament began Thursday as the Cougars took on the Portland State. A four-run sixth inning helped the Cougars push past the Vikings in the first game of the tournament, beating them 4-1. Willard led the way with a two-run bomb to start the sixth, while Toney drove in another run and scored one run in the inning. Junior pitcher Hannah Howell earned her first win of the season with eight strikeouts and only one earned run in the game.
Howell said she felt much more confident this tournament, and it showed through in her play.
“I felt more confident on the mound and knowing that my defense was there to back me up gave me even more confidence,” Howell said. “Last weekend was a little bit of a struggle just because it was the first weekend out. This weekend was just a good way to have my confidence built up again.”
Day two of the tournament proved to be the Cougars best day of the season offensively. Scoring a combined 25 runs on 24 hits, BYU beat Cal State Northridge 11-1, while also defeating Memphis 14-8.
Coach Gordon Eakin said he was pleased with the Cougars” effort offensively.
“I thought we performed very well on the offensive end,” Eakin said. “We came through in a lot of clutch situations and executed well. We consistently swung the bat better and we kept the pressure on our opponents.”
Willard, who had two home runs on the day, said she felt her team came out much stronger this tournament.
“I think we came out much better than we did last weekend,” Willard said. “We hit really well and everybody definitely came out [ready to play].”
Cal State Northridge and Memphis were no match for the BYU bats. Willard hit the third grand slam of her college career, while Toney and sophomore outfielder Carly Duckworth both hit a home run apiece.
Freshman pitcher Caroline Umphlett was almost perfect in five innings against Cal State, only allowing one hit in the game for her fourth win of the season. Howell earned another win against Memphis, adding on to her strikeout total with seven.
The last day of the tournament proved to be the hardest, as the Cougars came out fighting. After a big comeback win in the first game against the Indiana Hoosiers, BYU gave up its first loss of the tournament to DePaul to end the day.
BYU was able to keep the win streak alive in the bottom of the seventh inning against Indiana. Down 7-5 with one runner on base, junior Alexandra Hudson and senior Krista Hicks both got on to load the bases for junior JC Clayton. Clayton drew the walk, bringing in one run and cutting Indiana’s lead to one. Bases still loaded, senior Jessica Dugas hit a line drive down the left field line scoring two runs for the walk-off single and 8-7 win.
BYU came up short in the second game of the day, losing to DePaul 8-2. Willard had the only RBIs of the game, hitting her fifth home run in six games.
BYU will play next in the Cathedral City Classic starting Thursday.