(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
EUGENE, Ore.– BYU softball ended its season with a 7-0 loss to No. 24 North Dakota State after an 8-7 win over Fresno State in the earlier elimination game Friday in the NCAA Regional in Eugene, Oregon.
"It's tough to lose," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "I'm proud of the way our team fought. We just ran out of gas in the second game."
The Cougars finished the season 40-14 for its ninth 40-win season and its fourth-highest winning percentage in program history.
BYU vs. Fresno State
The contest against the Bulldogs was mostly a pitcher’s duel during the first three innings until things got interesting in the top of the fourth as the Cougars overcame an early 1-0 deficit.
BYU sparked a string of five runs led by Sydney Broderick’s single to shallow center. McKenzie St. Clair walked and Coco Tauali’i took first on a hit-by-pitch to load the bases following the single. With the table set, freshman shortstop Alexa Strid knocked in two runs on a double down the left-field line, scoring Broderick and St. Clair for the 2-1 lead.
Senior Lacey Hofstedt then drove in two runs on a single up the middle. Before advancing to third on Gordy Bravo’s sacrifice bunt, Hofstedt stole second base for her 25th stolen base of the season. She went on to score on Lauren Bell’s third hit of the game as the Cougars took a 5-1 lead going in to the bottom of the fourth.
The Bulldogs countered by scoring two runs. With runners on the corners and one out, an infield single made the game 5-2. Two batters later, a two-out single down the right-field line scored another run for Fresno State. A walk then loaded the bases, but BYU escaped the jam to end the frame with a 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs took the lead with three runs on two hits and one Cougar error.
BYU responded as Hofstedt sparked a rally in the top of the sixth with a single to right field. She advanced to third on Bravo’s first hit of the game. The Fresno State third baseman overthrew the second baseman trying to get Bravo, which allowed Hofstedt to slide home for the tying run.
Following the second out of the inning, Mercedes O’Connor drove in two runs on her two-out home run to left field to take the lead 8-6.
The Cougars held off the Bulldogs, allowing a home run in the bottom of the seventh before ending the Fresno State rally.
The winning pitcher was Arianna Paulson (2-3), who threw 0.2 innings. McKenna Bull collected the eighth save of her career while throwing six innings with four earned runs. She tied Hannah Howell for most career saves at BYU and surpassed Christina Gwyn Trice's school single-season record 245 strikeouts.
Box Score–BYU vs. Fresno State
BYU vs. No. 24 North Dakota State
The Bison roamed out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning off an RBI double that landed at the top of the fence in left field.
NDSU posted another run in the top of the second with a high bouncing single to third, scoring the runner who walked, stole second and advanced to third on a failed pick-off. Another bouncer to shortstop resulted in the batter reaching on an error, but a double play from Tauali’i to Thompson ended the frame.
The Bison continued their offensive consistency by loading the bases with the first three batters of the third inning. A single to center scored two runs before Bull ended the frame by fanning three of the next four batters with the score 4-0.
The Cougar offense struggled at the plate, registering three hits over the course of the game while North Dakota State tacked on one run in each of the next three innings for the eventual 7-0 tally.
Box Score–BYU vs. NDSU