PROVO, Utah - The 2010 softball season was arguably the best in BYU history as the Cougars set new team and individual marks all across the board, highlighted by a first-ever trip to the NCAA Super Regional and a school-best 46-13 record.
After claiming their sixth Mountain West Conference title since the program began in 2000, the Cougars traveled to Austin, Tex., to compete in an NCAA Regional for the sixth time. BYU would sweep the Regional, defeating East Carolina before knocking off the host, No. 7-seeded Texas, and beating East Carolina again to move on to the Super Regional.
BYU faced powerhouse Arizona in Tucson Super Regional, falling 2-1 in the first of a three-game series before losing again the next day to finish the season.
“It was a journey we knew we had potential to finish the way we finished,” said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin, “but we had a lot of challengers where it made the season more sweet. Peaking at the right time and playing the way we knew we were capable was a nice capstone.”
BYU was led by Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Angeline Quiocho. In her senior season, Quiocho tallied numbers never before seen in BYU and MWC history. Quiocho led the NCAA averaging 0.47 home runs per game, 1.53 RBI per game, and 90 RBI. She also finished second in the nation with 1.29 runs per game and was third in country with 28 home runs, 173 total bases and a .956 slugging percentage.
Quiocho led the MWC in home runs, runs, walks, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage while trailing only freshman teammate J.C. Clayton in hits and batting average. The senior leader finished atop the BYU and MWC records in numerous game, season and career records.
But Quiocho was not alone in BYU’s success. The Cougars led the MWC with six All-Conference selections. Quiocho, Clayton, junior pitcher Paige Affleck, junior second baseman Kristin Delahoussaye, junior catcher Jessica Purcell-Fitu and senior first baseman Andrea Ramirez were all named to the team while Clayton also picked up MWC Freshman of the Year. Head coach Gordon Eakin won his second-straight MWC Coach of the Year award after leading BYU to a school-record 46-13 mark and a 12-3 conference record.
In addition, Ramirez, Delahoussaye and Quiocho were named to the NFCA/Louisville Slugger Pacific All-Region First Team while Affleck and Purcell-Fitu were placed on the second team.
BYU ran off a seven-game win streak, including a walk-off grand slam by sophomore Delaney Willard against San Jose State, to begin the season before facing a preseason schedule full of top-ranked teams, including nine teams that would advance to the NCAA tournament. At No. 19 Texas A&M’s tournament in early March, BYU beat the host team twice in two days.
After 31 games on the road, BYU hosted its first home game against Southern Utah, winning 12-1 and starting a slew of achievements. In a 12-1 win over Idaho State, Ramirez and Caschjen Davis-Atagi hit two home runs apiece. Just a few days later, Davis-Atagi hit another walk-off grand slam for the Cougars, this one defeating UNLV, 7-3.
Quiocho hit the first of her BYU record-tying three grand slams in a season in an 11-5 win over Idaho State, a game in which she also hit a solo homer. The senior later hit her second career three-homer game late in the season against UNLV, the first of which gave Quiocho the BYU season home run record.
Other highlights included senior Amanda Vance-Kellum hitting a grand slam to end a contest against Colorado State through the mercy rule, 12-4, and a 20-0 win over Utah Valley, the most runs BYU has scored in a game since April 2008.
In a close race for the MWC championship late in the season, junior pitcher Paige Affleck bested SDSU ace Samantha Beasley, leading the Cougars to a 2-1 victory and earning her 27th win of the season, a new BYU record.
On Senior Day against New Mexico, Christie Zinanti pitched a complete game, striking out seven while giving up just one hit for her final home win. Seniors honored after the game included Zinanti, Quiocho, Ramirez, Vance-Kellum, catcher Amy Holt and utility player Whitney Nix-Thomas.