Cougars split softball Saturday with strong freshman performances

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Katie Manuma hits the ball during a home game. (Photo courtesy BYU Athletics)
Katie Manuma hits the ball during a home game. (Photo courtesy BYU Athletics)

Ashley Thompson led BYU’s victory over Fordham, the reigning Atlantic 10 conference champions, but failed in nail-biting fashion to Oklahoma State in the Mary Nutter Classic.

Thompson, a freshman from Connell, Wash., played two great games. She had five RBIs and a first career home run against Oklahoma State (8-3) while also striking out six in the Cougars’ game with Fordham (6-6).

“Both of our freshman pitchers, Ashley and McKenna, did a great job for us on the mound today,” said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin.

In the Cougars’ first game, Oklahoma State scored first in the top of the inning with a single, bringing home a runner on third. BYU tried to respond with bases loaded but failed to convert.

Katie Manuma, a senior from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, caught a line drive and threw to second to end the Cowgirls’ inning with a double play. BYU tied the game in the bottom of the frame by bringing in a runner with a sacrifice fly from Coco Tauali’i, a sophomore from Torrence, Calif.

Oklahoma State took the lead again, making the score 3-1, with three singles and an error, and the Cougars hoped to respond with bases loaded but again failed to score.

After a couple of scoreless innings, Thompson rocketed the ball out of the park to score three runs, giving BYU the 4-3 lead. The Cougars’ lead ended quickly as the Cowgirls tied the game with a score of their own.

Oklahoma State scored twice in the eighth with a home run, and BYU only managed to score once, making the final score 6-5.

“We were one pitch away from getting the job done in game one (against Oklahoma State) and just couldn’t hold on,” Eakin said. “It was disappointing to drop the game in extra innings, but it was nice to rebound in game two with a strong effort from Ashley Thompson from the mound and at the plate.”

In BYU’s second game against Fordham, Thompson struck out the first three batters, and the Cougars scored twice in the first inning to take the lead.

Thompson and Sydney Broderick, a freshman from Ashburn, Va., scored in the third inning after the senior from Salt Lake City, Carly Duckworth, singled to center field.

In the bottom of the fourth, Lauren Bell, a freshman from Murray, made it to first with a dropped fly ball and then stole second. Thompson singled through center field to bring Bell home, making the score 5-0.

Fordham scored twice in the top of the fifth and then loaded the bases in the seventh, but Thompson ended the game by retiring the final batter to record the final score of 5-2.

BYU returns to action this Saturday for its final matchup of the Mary Nutter Classic against Washington at 8 p.m. (PST).

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