The BYU softball team won its first Western Athletic Conference series of the season this weekend, with wins in all three games in Provo against the New Mexico State Aggies.
BYU struck early in game one when senior Jessica Dugas singled to shortstop to start off the first inning. She was on base when senior Delaney Willard hit a homerun for the ninth time this season. With Willard’s homer, BYU went up in the game 2-0 to give starting pitcher Tori Almond a good lead.
Almond and the Cougar defense held the lead until a series of errors led to two Mexico State runs in the top of the fifth to tie up the game.
The Cougars fought back in the seventh when senior Stacie Toney made it into scoring position for sophomore Jenna Goar at the plate. Goar took a pitch to center field, bouncing the ball off of the fence and making it safely to second for the walk-off double and 3-2 run win.
Almond earned her fourth win of the season, punching out seven batters and giving up only four hits. Both runs scored by the Aggies were unearned runs.
Coach Gordon Eakin said he was pleased with the way his team played at home.
“You have to try to take care of business at home,”Eakin said. “It’s a very competitive conference, and they [NMSU] are the defending champions, so you have to try to defend your home field. I was proud of the kids.”
Junior pitcher Hannah Howell had the ball for the Cougars in the second game of the series on Saturday.
Manuma came up big on a pinch-hit single to bring in two runs for the Cougars. Dugas then added to the lead with her second hit of the day to bring in one more run. Junior Bailey Hicken then walked to load the bases for junior JC Clayton and Clayton hit a clutch triple to bring in all three runners, making the score 8-0 in favor of BYU.
The Aggies would add one run in the top of the fifth, but that would be all they could get as the Cougars scored one in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early because of the mercy rule, winning 9-1.
Howell picked up her ninth win of the season, giving up only two hits in her five innings pitched. Both Dugas and Toney led the team with two hits apiece while Clayton added three RBIs for the Cougars. Sophomore Ashlee Brawley shined defensively at third base for the Cougars, with five assists in the game.
The last of the Cougar pitchers, freshman Caroline Umphlett, started the game for the final match-up against the Aggies.
The Aggies struck first in the game with a two-run home run in the top of the third to put them up 2-0 and added another solo home run in the fourth.
BYU fought back in the bottom of the fourth. After a single by Clayton, Willard hit her 10th home run of the season to cut the Aggie lead to one run.
Clayton came back strong in the bottom of the fifth with runners on second and third, hitting a single to bring in Tiffany Messerschmidt from third base. Willard was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Toney, who hit a fly ball to right to strand three on base for the Cougars.
The score would remain tied at 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning. With two runners on, Willard struck once again, hitting a three-run walk-off home run to sweep New Mexico State for BYU’s 25th straight home win. Almond finished the game for Umphlett to earn her second win of the weekend.
BYU looks to lengthen its home winning streak on Tuesday as it takes on UKMC at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Miller Park.