BYU softball’s performance at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic started and ended on high notes with wins over UC Santa Barbara, Indiana University and Oregon State. The Cougars lost to the University of Maryland and Texas A&M and finished the tournament 3-2.
The Cougars’ performance at the tournament in Cathedral City, California, brought their total record to 9-6 and included their two largest leads of the season (16-4, 14-5).
BYU established a lead in the first inning against the UCSB Gauchos and was up 3-1. The Cougars scored again in the top of the third inning, but the Gauchos returned it and tied the game 4-4. A scoreless inning ended with a five-run streak in the top of the fifth. Four of those five runs came from Coco Tauali’i’s first grand slam of her career. BYU finished the game with another run in the sixth and six more in the seventh to win 16-4.
The Cougars’ game against Maryland included a tie as well. Both teams scored one run in the first inning and didn’t score again through the seventh. McKenna Bull’s strong pitching and the team’s defense held the Terrapins off, and the the 1-1 score forced the game to extra innings. The Cougars fought during innings eight and nine, but Maryland ended the game with a walk-off single as the Cougars lost 2-1. BYU head coach Gordon Eakin was proud of the way the Cougars battled despite the loss.
“We had our chances but just did not get the timely hits we needed,” Eakin said. “It was a well-played game by both teams.”
BYU lost again in its only game on day two of the tournament to the Texas A&M Aggies. The Cougars gave up four runs in the first inning but then held A&M off until the fifth when the Aggies earned two more. RBIs by Megan Arnold and Sydney Broderick scored three runs for the Cougars, but they still trailed 6-3. The Cougars and Aggies both added runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but BYU couldn’t close the gap and lost 8-5.
The Cougars won both games on the final day of the Mary Nutter Classic beginning with a 5-3 over the Indiana Hoosiers. BYU scored four runs off two RBIs from Lacey Hofstedt and Gordy Bravo. A BYU error and walk allowed the Hoosiers to get on the board and score two runs. Another Bravo RBI added a run and extended the lead 5-2. Indiana scored again, but the game finished before the team made a full comeback.
BYU continued its momentum in a 14-5 triumph over the Oregon State Beavers. Both teams picked up runs quickly, and BYU led 6-3 by the end of the third inning. But BYU took off and scored eight more runs in the fourth, leading 14-3. The Beavers scored twice more, but the Cougars’ lead finished the game 14-5 after just five innings.
“We were a little mentally and physically tired, but we battled through it for a really nice day,” Eakin said. “We hit the ball hard, and we were clicking on all cylinders.”
BYU softball will compete next against Nevada, Northern Colorado and Southern Illinois Feb. 26–28 in Mexico at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.