BYU softball goes undefeated at Littlewood Classic

After a 2-2 start to the season in Mexico, BYU softball beat five teams and never lost while competing in the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Arizona last week.

The Cougars encountered a sub-optimal beginning to their 2023 campaign as they participated in the Puerto Vallarta Challenge a few weeks ago and left with a couple of brutal losses, but the team came into Arizona with a chip on its shoulder and never looked back.

The undefeated stretch began with an excellent, complete 10-5 win against No. 22 Arizona State. BYU was able to score 10 runs from just nine hits, including a pair of four-run innings.

“The team played extremely well tonight,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said after the game. “It was a complete team victory against a very good team on their field.”

Notable players that stood out in this contest include the likes of freshman pitcher Kaysen Korth, who pitched just over four innings and only allowed five hits and three runs while also throwing seven strikeouts. Senior third baseman Martha Epenesa also had a fantastic game against the Sun Devils, going 2-for-2 at bat with a run and 2 RBI.

Graphic by Nathan Thatcher

A great start to the competition would mean that future opponents in the tournament would most likely give the Cougars their best shot–and that’s exactly what they got in their next game against Portland State.

The Vikings got off to a scorching start as they scored three runs in the opening and then enlarged the lead to four after the second frame. The Cougars were able to cut the lead down to one after a solid fourth inning, and even took the lead in the fifth thanks to a home run hit from junior outfielder Violet Zavodnik.

Portland State tied things up in the seventh, but Epenesa came to the rescue and bombed a two-run homer to walk off a second-straight win in the desert.

On Friday, BYU played a double-header against Oregon State and Illinois State. In their matchup with the Beavers, Zavodnik and Epenesa proved to be the heroes once again as both of them homered a pitch outside the fence and helped the Cougars to a 3-2 win. Korth also pitched for a dominant stretch that lasted seven innings and only allowed two hits and two runs, with nine strikeouts to keep her team in front.

“As a team we didn’t play our best ball today,” said Eakin. “We just found a way. The long ball played a big role for us, and Kaysen was a warrior.”

In the second game of the day against the Redbirds, BYU faced another tough challenge as they went into extra innings. Illinois State jumped out to a 1-0 lead until senior first basman Huntyr Ava homered in the second inning to tie things up.

The Cougars ended up winning 2-1 thanks to another excellent pitching game, this time from senior pitcher Chloe Temples who pitched eight innings and six strikeouts. BYU was now 4-0 in Arizona, but in the words of a famous Marvel villain, there was still “one to go.”

Coach Eakin and the crew made up for their low-scoring Friday with a shootout win against DePaul on Saturday, winning 13-7.

The star for the Cougars in their final Tempe win was sophomore outfielder Jaelynn Lambert who went 3-for-4 at-bat and had 2 runs and 2 RBIs.

BYU jumped from 2-2 to 7-2 in a matter of a week as they showed just how good they can be. They next travel to California to participate in the Mary Nutter Classic, and let the other participating teams be warned, these Cougars are on a streak and are looking to continue their winning ways.

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