BYU softball undefeated in Mexico

Ari Davis
McKenzie St. Clair tags a UVU player out earlier in the season. (Ari Davis)

BYU softball went undefeated through four games at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge tournament this weekend in Mexico. The Cougars defeated University of Nevada Reno (7-5), University of Northern Colorado (5-4) and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (8-0, 8-1).

The Cougars won the first NCAA softball game ever played outside the United States on Thursday against the Nevada Wolf Pack, 7-5.

“This is a fun but different playing environment,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “We got off to a good start offensively, but I think the hot weather and humidity affected both teams. We simply outlasted them.”

The Cougars scored four runs in the first inning from McKenzie St. Clair’s and Alexa Strid’s two-run RBI. The Wolf Pack got one run back in the top of the second, but BYU was just getting started and gained a 6-1 advantage by the end of the third. Nevada went on a streak to get within one of BYU, but Mercedes O’Connor’s sixth-inning RBI allowed Lacey Hofstedt to score the team’s final run.

The Cougars’ 11 hits, including two home runs from O’Connor, helped the team beat the UNC Bears 5-4 in Friday’s first game. BYU gave up three runs in the first inning but battled back with one run in the second. O’Connor hit her first home run of the year in the fifth to give the Cougars the lead 4-3, but the Bears tied it up in the bottom of the inning. O’Connor’s solo home run in the seventh won the game.

BYU played and won again on Friday in an 8-0 shutout of the SIU Salukis. The Cougars maintained an early 2-0 lead for five innings, then added three more runs in each the sixth and seventh. O’Connor earned the team’s final run with her sixth RBI of the day.

“O’Connor had a monster day in both games,” Eakin said.

The Cougars beat the Salukis again on Saturday, this time 8-1. BYU allowed one run in the top of the third inning, but SIU didn’t have the lead for long. Lauren Bell kicked off a five-run scoring rally in the bottom of the inning with her first career grand slam.

“Lauren Bell’s grand slam was a clutch hit for us,” Eakin said. “It really got our offense going.”

Ashley Thompson then followed the grand slam with her own solo home run, putting the Cougars up 5-1. BYU added three more runs in the fourth and held SIU off for the rest of the game to finish up its time in Mexico.

“It’s been a great experience in Mexico,” Eakin said. “We’re excited to come back in the future.”

BYU softball returns to the United States next week to compete in the University of Tennessee Tournament. The first game will be held on Thursday against North Dakota State.

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