BYU softball sweep in conference opener; Clayton breaks hit record

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It was a four-game sweep for the BYU softball team who defeated San Diego in its conference opener on Friday and Saturday in California.

“We knew we had to come out strong and so we decided that if it wasn’t going to come naturally, we had to work really hard together as a team,” Bailie Hicken said. “We had to fight through every inning, and after that first win we knew it wasn’t going to be easy to come up with three more wins.”

In the first game on Friday, the Cougars dominated the field and took advantage of four Torero errors that allowed them to out-score San Diego 9-1. BYU’s bats were hot in the first game and had 13 hits from eight of the nine starters compared to USD’s six. The offense had help from pitcher Hannah Howell, who threw a complete game with seven strikeouts for the win.

The second game was also a success for the Cougars although their bats were not as hot. Marissa Bravo, Katie Manuma and Hicken had the only hits for the team. Tori Almond was able to hold the Toreros to only one run through five innings before Manuma entered to shut them down for the win and her second save of the season.

This series was highlighted by the defensive talent on the team. The Cougars turned four double-plays and had a diving catch by Madisen Robb. Clayton said this weekend the Hudson sisters, Anna Hudson and Alexandra Hudson-Shamo, stood out to her and worked hard to help secure the Cougar sweep.

“Anna was really valuable to us this weekend behind the plate,” Clayton said. “Defensively she was great; very few balls got past her, and Alexandra has been very consistent and strong for us at the bat.”

Saturday’s double-header finalized the sweep for the Cougars after defeating USD 5-0 and 3-0. Saturday was also a great day for record breaking. Clayton broke two school records for the most all-time career record for hits at BYU with 269 hits as well as most stolen bases in a game with four.

According to Clayton, coach Gordon Eakin was running the girls more than usual to take advantage of the Toreros catcher, who was struggling throwing girls out. Because of this, Clayton was able to steal extra bases to break the record.

Manuma earned her first win of the season in the first game after relieving Almond, who was able to hold USD hitless through three innings. Hicken had a great game, drawing two timely hits and two RBI for the Cougars to put runs on the board.

“It’s senior year, and we’re starting conference; it’s down to the wire,” Hicken said. “We need to get it done, and we need hits in clutch situations. We hit a lot last week, and I think it came down to relaxing, having some fun and letting it come natural.”

Clayton highlighted the second game when she hit three of the team’s five hits to lead the team to victory and break the all-time hit record. Howell led defensively again, through six innings, giving up only five hits and no runs for another win.

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