Manuma swings the cougars back to .500 with career performance

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Senior Katie Manuma blasted BYU’s way to victory over Seattle with a career performance Thursday in the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.

Manuma batted 4-for-5 with 7 RBIs, three doubles and a home run, while contributing as a closer, putting an end to the attempted Redhawk comeback. Other heavy hitters included Coco Tauali’i, who went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles, and Carly Duckworth, who batted 2-for-4 with a home run.

Katie Manuma makes contact with the ball during a game against Utah Valley last season. Photo by Chris Bunker
Katie Manuma makes contact with the ball during a game against Utah Valley last season. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

“The offensive production was really good,” said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin. “We played solid defense, but we need to get better on the mound. We hurt ourselves by walking people. We need to do a better job protecting the lead by not giving them free bases.”

The Cougars jumped out to an early lead in the first three innings. Tauali’i smashed a lead-off home run way out of the park and was followed up by a single from Duckworth and Ashley Thompson being walked onto base. Manuma stepped-up and doubled to right-center, reeling in her first two RBIs.

Impressive defense kept the Redhawks from scoring in the first. Seattle had managed to put two runners on base, but a diving catch into foul territory by Lacey Millett-Hofstedt and Lauren Bell throwing out the runner at first brought the inning to a close.

The Cougars loaded the bases in the second inning, and a sacrifice fly from McKenzie St. Clair brought in Bell and Millett-Hofstedt. The Cougars then led 5-0. Seattle put runners on in the bottom of the second, but Bull struck-out three straight to keep the Redhawks scoreless going into the third.

A pair of doubles from Thompson and Manuma put the Cougars up 6-0 in the top of the third. Then once BYU had loaded the bases, a Redhawk throwing error brought two more Cougars across home base. Seattle threatened again, loading the bases in the bottom of the third, and this time scored one run on a BYU fielding error.

In the fourth inning, BYU failed to score and the Redhawks caught a spark, battling back to within one run. A three-run home run from Seattle caused BYU to make a change and bring in Thompson to relieve Bull. Seattle scored twice more that inning. BYU held onto its lead 8-7.

For the second inning, the Cougars were held scoreless, and the Redhawks threatened again with runners on first and third with two outs, but Thompson pitched away Seattle’s hope to take the lead and ended the inning with the score still 8-7.

In the top of the sixth, BYU faced the possibility of another scoreless inning with two outs and two on base. Manuma stepped-up big offensively and defensively for the Cougars, as she hit an explosive three-run shot way over the left-center fence to extend the Cougars’ lead to 11-7. The Redhawks hit three singles, scoring one, to start the bottom of the sixth, and then BYU brought in Manuma to relieve Thompson. Manuma retired the next three, holding Seattle to one run that inning.

“It was a roller-coaster win,” Eakin said. “You know, up 8-0 they come back threatened, and then we took over offensively again.”

The seventh inning lit up for BYU with back-to-back home runs from Tauali’i and Duckworth, giving the Cougars a 13-8 lead. BYU put two runners on base before Manuma batted home her seventh RBI and the final run of the game. She then sealed the victory, holding the Redhawks scoreless in the bottom of the frame.

The 14 runs put up by the Cougars represent a season high.

BYU continues play in the Easton Desert Classic against Portland State Friday at 1:30 p.m., after which they will square-off against Chattanooga at 3:45 p.m., PST.

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