BYU softball starts season 1-2 in Mexico

Photo by Donovan Kelly/BYU

With snow drifting throughout Provo and through BYU’s campus, women’s softball was able to escape the chill and headed to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they played their first games of the season.

Despite the warm weather and fresh faces, the team would fall to North Carolina 2-0 in the Nancy Almaraz Stadium Thursday afternoon. Chloe Temples was an immediate star against UNC as she kicked off their first batter and didn’t let the Tar Heels on the board in the opening inning. UNC would take their first point in the second inning, getting a runner home from third, rattling the Cougars and painting the scoreboard.

A pop-fly would give North Carolina their 2-0 lead in the third inning, and despite BYU keeping the Tar Heels off the board in the next inning, they were unable to make any full runs of their own to challenge UNC. Despite close calls and great hits by Violet Zavodnik and Alexis Gilio, the game would end 2-0, and would give the Cougars an intermission from play to focus on their next opponent: Wisconsin.

The Thursday evening game against Wisconsin immediately felt more like a competition, with freshman Kaysen Korth immediately making a name for herself as a vital pitcher. The freshman from Bluffdale, Utah,  struck out nine opponents and only gave up three hits, incredible stats for her first collegiate game.

Before heading for Mexico, head coach Gordan Eakin gave insight on his freshman pitcher and his pitchers as whole.

“Kaysen Korth… she’s the real deal, she’s legit, she’ll help us on the mound,” Eakin praised. “Chloe [Temples] and Kaysen are the two pitchers that showed the performance level that we expect.”

The hitters also had an impressive game, with Hunter Ava getting a single in left corner, scoring Ailana Agbayani for BYU’s sole point of the match.

The Cougars did not receive much threat from the Badgers until the sixth inning when the losing team had only one out with a runner at second. Korth easily squeezed her team out of this jam with a pop-up and fly out, ending the inning. The recent transfer further recorded impressive stats after landing two strikeouts and one groundout against the Badgers, solidifying herself as a college-worthy pitcher and starter.

The 1-0 win against Wisconsin would let the Cougars go to bed satisfied, and prepare for their third game of the Puero Vallarta College Challenge against Maryland Friday afternoon.

The game started out anticlimactic on both sides until the bottom of the third inning. Maryland knabbed five hits and scored seven runs in the frame to give the Cougars something to contest.

Despite a single from Maddie Udall and a walk for Huntyr Ava, the Cougars remained at zero at the top of the fourth inning.

Maryland increased their lead to 9-0 after four hits in their half of the fourth, utilizing an impressive offense that BYU was not able to knock off fast enough.

Zavodnik stepped up with a triple to right field in the top of the fifth, scoring her teammates Agbayani and Taryn Lennon, to make the score 9-2.

Despite this small drive in the fifth inning, the Terrapins would prevail against the Cougars, scoring once more in the bottom half of the fifth, closing the game out at 10-2. Despite the Cougars’ current 1-2 record after the loss, the game displayed the skill and potential that the women will have this season.

“We have more talent, and we have more depth,” Eakin said. “We can compete with anybody in the country. We can pitch, we can hit, we’ve got team speed, we’ve got power. We play good defense, and we have good depth to sustain injuries.”

Teammates and key players outfielder Violet Zavodnik and pitcher Chloe Temples

Zavodnik, who was ranked no. 28 in D1 Softball Preseason’s Top 100, also is confident in the team’s direction and unity this season.

“This team is the closest that we have ever been. I don’t think anyone could break us apart,” Zavodnik explained. “We have all of the talent with the incoming transfers [and] the freshmen. Everyone is a perfect piece and there are no missing pieces.”

Despite the current 1-2 record for the season, the women’s softball has much to be optimistic for and an opportunistic season ahead of them. The last game of the Mexico tournament will be against North Dakota State Saturday afternoon, and after that Coach Eakin and his players will return to the States to play Arizona State on February 16 in the Littlewood Classics.  

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