Bull struck out eight batters in six innings and passed Tori Almond for the eighth best strikeout season at BYU. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
OGDEN, Utah – Freshman pitcher McKenna Bull earned the victory in her hometown, leading BYU to a 6-1 victory over in-state rival Weber State.
“It was another solid win for us,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “We played a complete game and did a nice job to get the win today. We just need to continue this momentum.”
Bull (13-9) pitched six innings and struck out eight batters while allowing only one earned run. Bull now has 159 strikeouts on the season, passing teammate Tori Almond for the eighth-best strikeout season at BYU. Almond entered in relief of Bull in the seventh and struck out all three batters she faced. Freshman second baseman McKenzie St. Clair led BYU (25-21, 6-2 WCC) at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI.
The Cougars put the Wildcats (20-24, 2-9 Big Sky) away early with the first three batters loading the bases for Katie Manuma. Manuma then hit a sharp grounder to third and the throw to home sailed high to allow Sydney Broderick and Lauren Bell to score and give BYU the 2-0 lead. After Ashley Thompson reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners, St. Clair singled to center field to make it 3-0 in favor of the Cougars.
The Wildcats responded with a walk and a bunt single back to the pitcher to put runners on first and second with no outs. Brooke Silva then doubled to center field to score the lone run for Weber State. Bull settled in and struck out the next two batters, getting the last batter to pop up to Broderick in foul territory.
The Cougars couldn’t get anything started in the second, but Bull remained hot, striking out two more and catching a pop-up to retire all three batters she faced in the bottom of the frame. It was a similar story in the third, with BYU only putting one runner on in its half of the inning before Bull held the Wildcats off the base paths, including one more strikeout.
St. Clair began the fourth inning with a stand-up double to center field. Mercedes O’Connor then singled to left field, and Carly Duckworth was hit by a pitch to load the bases again for the Cougars. Broderick singled to center field to bring in St. Clair, and an error by the center fielder allowed O’Connor to cross, making it 5-1.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Duckworth singled to left field and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ashlee Robinson and a groundout by Broderick. The Wildcat’s second baseman was unable to pick up a soft grounder in time to throw out Bell at first, allowing Duckworth to score and give BYU the 6-1 lead. After a pop-up to third and another Bull strikeout in the bottom of the frame, a soft line drive glanced off Bull’s glove and hit her head in a scary play that ended the inning. She was not injured on the play and was able to walk off the field on her own strength.
The Cougars will head to Stockton, Calif., to take on Pacific in an important three-game conference series. The series begins with a doubleheader Friday at 4 p.m. PDT at Bill Simoni Field and will wrap up with a game at noon on Saturday.