Before a record crowd of 1,953 at Gail Miller Field, the BYU softball team split a doubleheader with Hawaii over the weekend.
BYU improved its record to 24-11, 4-3 in WAC play. Hawaii (32-4, 6-2) was handed its fourth loss of the year and second in the WAC against the Cougars.
Junior Hannah Howell took the mound for the first game of the day, starting out with a 1-2-3 first inning against the Rainbow Wahine.
After three innings, the Cougar defense and pitching held Hawaii to no runs or hits on three strikeouts by Howell. BYU escaped threats by Hawaii in both the fourth and fifth innings to keep the score 0-0.
Hawaii scored first in the top of the sixth, converting on three walks issued by Howell to earn the lone run of the game.
With only one run on the scoreboard for Hawaii, BYU’s last chance to score came down to the bottom of the seventh inning with the middle of the lineup at the plate. BYU couldn’t convert to lengthen or win the game and went down 1-0.
Senior Delaney Willard kept Hawaii pitcher Stephanie Ricketts from getting a no-hitter with the only hit of the game for the Cougars. Meanwhile, Howell gave up only two hits and one run.
Pitching coach Vaughn Alvey said he couldn’t be more pleased with Howell, who fought an injury before and during the game.
“She’s a kid that comes out and says ‘I’ll do it’ every time,” Alvey said. “That was such a gutty performance today. Hannah is one of the leaders of our program and she is such a great example of tenacity. You can’t get her down.”
Sophomore Tori Almond took the mound for the second game of the day.
Hawaii struck in the first inning. The Rainbow Wahine were able to bring around their lead-off hitter for the first run of the game on two hits.
The Cougars fought back to score six runs on six hits in the bottom of the first. Senior Jessica Dugas led off the inning with a single down the left-field line and Clayton followed with a walk. Manuma took advantage of the runners in scoring position and blasted a hard ground ball to right field to bring in both runners and go up 2-1.
The run didn’t end there, though. Sophomore Carly Duckworth, freshman Anna Hudson, Brawley and Dugas all earned RBIs in the inning off singles.
In 35 games, Hawaii has given up at the most, only four runs in a game. The Cougars blew that record out of the water and scored six runs in the first inning alone to take a comfortable lead.
BYU forced a pitching change for Hawaii in the bottom of the third and scored one more run to make the score 7-1.
Hawaii chipped away at the score in the top of the sixth with a two-run home run to left field, but left-fielder Alexandra Hudson gunned out the next batter attempting to stretch a single into a double for the third out of the inning.
BYU went on to win the game 7-3. Dugas went 3-for4 in the game with one run and one RBI. Almond earned her eighth win of the season on five hits, with seven strike outs.
Dugas said she came into the second game with a tough approach at the plate.
“My mindset was just to get on and do my job as a lead-off hitter,” Dugas said. “A lot of the game tempo revolves [around] me so I like to just do my job and get on, and allow the hitters behind me to do their work.”
The Cougars will play next at Idaho State on Monday and then will return home for a game against UVU on Wednesday, which will be broadcast live on BYUtv at 6 p.m. MT.