BYU softball finishes with four wins in California tournament

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Ari Davis
McKenzie St. Clair hits the ball for BYU in the game against UVU. The Cougars will return to Provo March 20. (Ari Davis)

Head coach Gordon Eakin hit 500 career wins as BYU softball went 4-1 at the San Diego Classic II tournament this weekend (2-1, 3-1, 1-4, 3-1, 4-1). The Cougars were victorious over Long Beach State University, San Diego State University, Western Carolina University and University of Connecticut but lost to No. 15 Baylor University.

The four wins set Eakin’s all-time Division I coaching record to 500-230 after 13 years.

“To me, the 500 wins belong to the team,” Eakin said. “It’s the program’s 500th.”

Excellent pitching from both teams made runs difficult to come by in BYU’s first win of the tournament against the Long Beach State 49ers. Pitcher McKenna Bull only allowed one run in seven innings.

“Our offense was a little rusty from not playing last weekend, but our defense and pitching were solid,” Eakin said. “McKenna Bull just threw lights out.”

Two solo home runs in the third inning from Coco Tauali’i and Gordy Bravo secured the Cougars’ lead for the rest of the game. The 49ers scored their only run in the seventh, but BYU cut them off and won 2-1.

BYU continued its success with a 3-1 victory against the SDSU Aztecs in game two. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when Ashley Thompson’s single allowed Bravo to score. A BYU throwing error gave up a run to the Aztecs in the fourth inning and tied the score. The Cougars made up for it in the next inning by scoring the two winning runs.

The Cougars’ only loss at the tournament came on day two against the No. 15 Baylor Bears. “McKenna Bull did a nice job keeping us in the game,” Eakin said. “They’re ranked 15th for a reason, but we were right in the game.”

The Bears scored twice in the second inning and twice again in the fifth before Sydney Broderick’s RBI in the bottom of the fifth gave BYU its only run of the game. A single and a stolen base by Lacey Hofstedt in the sixth inning gave the Cougars hope, but they couldn’t bring it home, and BYU lost 4-1.

BYU came back with a vengeance on the last day of the tournament and won both games against Western Carolina and UConn. The first game against the Western Carolina Catamounts proved scoreless through two innings, but the Cougars scored twice in the third from two RBI by Bravo and Lauren Bell. Hofstedt added her own RBI in the fourth to increase the lead 3-0. The Catamounts earned one run in the top of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough, and the game ended 3-1.

The UConn Huskies took an early lead 1-0 in the last game of the tournament, but the Cougars found luck in the third again and went up 2-1. BYU added two more in the fifth and stopped the Huskies from scoring again to earn their final win 4-1.

BYU softball is now 17-7 on the season and will compete against Oklahoma State in Provo on March 20 for the team’s home opener.

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