Big sixth inning earns Cougars a win in home opener

Coryn Taualii was 2 for 2 in the game with three RBI in her first game at Gail Miller Field. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah -- An explosive sixth inning helped the BYU softball team ensure an 11-6 victory in its home opener against the Marist Red Foxes Tuesday night at Gail Miller Field.

"It's good to win and to be home," head coach Gordon Eakin said. "We've had our challenges with a lot of different things and its just good to get a win. I thought our offense did a great job. We had several kids with timely hits and we moved the ball well."

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BYU (10-15) outhit Marist (6-8) 11-10 and had five extra-base hits on the evening. Marissa Bravo and Coryn Taualii each had three RBI on the night, with two hits apiece. Katie Manuma also drove home a couple of runs with a deep shot to left field, extending her hitting streak to tie her career-high of seven games.

Tori Almond earned the win, her fifth of the season. Almond had two strikeouts to close out the first inning and sat down three straight in the second. Another Marist batter struck out swinging to open the third inning, making it six consecutive strikeouts for Almond.

The Cougars broke the scoreboard in the bottom of the third after Carly Duckworth grounded a single up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Bravo followed with a single up the middle, advancing to second as Duckworth charged home. Duckworth slipped around the tag to put the home team on the board.  

BYU loaded the bases after Manuma reached on a throwing error and Alexandra Hudson Shamo singled to the pitcher. Taualii singled to right field and advanced to third on a fielding error by the Red Foxes’ right fielder. Bravo, Manuma and Shamo scored, putting the Cougars up 4-0. Marist ended the third on the next batter with a 5-3 double play.

A three-run fifth pulled Marist within one run at 4-3. Red Fox freshman Maureen Duddy singled to right field in the three spot. Duddy advanced to second after Danielle Koltz reached on a BYU error, setting up Nicole Cheek for a three-run homer.

The home team responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Duckworth led off with a single to left field. Manuma walked in the three spot and Shamo reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Duckworth out at third. Taualii doubled to left field, driving in Manuma and Shamo to give BYU a 6-3 advantage.

In the top of the sixth, Marist’s Haley Birnbaum circled the bases after reaching on a BYU fielding error. A couple of singles put her into scoring position and Duddy’s sacrifice fly to left field brought her home, cutting BYU’s lead to two at 6-4.

BYU pushed its lead to 11-4 in the bottom of the sixth with Bravo and Manuma picking up two RBI each. With Lacey Millett, JC Clayton and Duckworth on base, Bravo drove home two runs with a double to left center. The hit brought home Millett and Clayton and put Duckworth and Bravo in scoring position. Manuma hit a deep ball into left field to bring home the two runners and put herself in scoring position at second base. Madisen Robb came up big and hit a pinch hit double to bring in Manuma for the Cougars’ final run.

Marist picked up a couple of runs in the top of the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Cougars who took the 11-6 victory in their home opener.

BYU will open conference play with a doubleheader on Friday at the University of San Diego at 4 and 6 p.m. PDT. Both games will be available via live stats.

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