The BYU softball team split wins with LMU this weekend, and Hannah Howell made BYU softball history pitching the second perfect game in a four-game conference series this weekend at Gail Miller Field.
LMU had a homerun in the top of the first inning in each of the first three games. The Lions came out strong on Friday, but were shut down by the Cougars in Saturday’s doubleheaders.
The Cougars totaled only three hits in both doubleheaders on Friday evening.
“I don’t know if we finally hit a wall where everything’s caught up to us, or what, but it’s dismal right now,” Coach Gordon Eakin said. “If we don’t come back tomorrow and play the way we’re capable of playing and return the favor, we’re in trouble.”
In game one on Friday, the Cougars scored only two runs to LMU’s eight, off of eight hits. Katie Manuma homered to steal LMU’s Sydney Gouveia’s no-hitter and earn BYU’s first and only hit of the game.
In game two, the Cougars produced only two hits from Madisen Robb and Tauali’i and fell against the Lions 5–0.
“We keep telling them to fight and not give up to try to get them to dig deeper,” Eakin said in reference to the BYU offensive performance.
BYU came back stronger than ever and had an entirely new attitude in Saturday’s games with two big wins and a total of 25 hits. The Cougars earned their first win 9–4 and their second 11–0.
“We had a good talk last night after yesterday and talked about what we play for and why we play,” Eakin said. “I think that discussion, and what they found, worked today because that’s as much determination and as much heart as we’ve played with all year long.”
The start of game one looked more like a homerun derby than a conference game. LMU homered in the first, BYU’s Coco Tauali’i did it in the second and LMU again in the third. The teams matched each other’s runs and kept it tight through five innings of play.
The Cougars took their first lead of the series when Tauali’i hit a three-run bomb over left-center field. Tauali’i had 5 RBI in the game, her career high.
“I’ve been waiting all season to break out,” Tauali’i said. “Finally it’s happening. I’ve been really focused on hitting these last weeks in practice and it’s finally coming along.”
Manuma doubled in the bottom of the sixth to secure the cushion for the Cougars. The Cougars produced two more runs for a five-run cushion while LMU stayed quiet after the third.
In game two on Saturday, Hannah Howell threw the second perfect game in BYU softball history.
“I knew that we were ahead by more than eight runs, but I wasn’t trying to think, ‘I got to get three outs to get a perfect game,” Howell said. “I was thinking, ‘I got to get three outs and go to the house with two wins,'”.
For the first time in the series, the Cougars stopped LMU’s first-inning terror with 3-up and 3-down. BYU got off to an early jump-start and put two runs on the board in the second inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marissa “Gordy” Bravo smoked one down the third base line to the corner of the field and made it around the bases for an in-the-park homerun. The runs kept pouring in through the fourth inning when the Cougars won by the eight-run rule and Howell sealed the deal for the perfect game.