Senior Stacie Toney hit a grand slam and an RBI triple for the Cougars vs. No. 14 Texas A&M.
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Facing two ranked teams on Friday at the Cathedral City Classic, the BYU softball team fought hard in a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Florida before falling to No. 14 Texas A&M, 14-8, in eight innings.
A lack of hits at key times hurt BYU in both games. Cougar batters reached base consistently and early in the inning, but had a tough time coming around. BYU left eight on base in its first game and seven in the second.
The Cougars had their chances against the top-ranked Gators, getting a lead-off baserunner on in four of the seven innings and loading the bases with no outs in the sixth, but couldn't cash in. The shutout was the first runless game for BYU in its last 31 contests.
BYU's pitching triumvirate of Hannah Howell, Caroline Umphlett and Tori Almond gave Florida different looks throughout the game and held the Gators, batting .385 as a team coming into the game, to only four hits. Florida's top four hitters went 1 for 11 with the lone hit yielding a single.
Florida capitalized on what they could get from the Cougar pitching staff, scoring on a solo home run in the third and a two-run homer in the fourth.
The golden opportunity for BYU came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bailie Hicken walked, JC Clayton reached on an error by the Florida shortstop and Delaney Willard singled up the middle before Florida could record an out. BYU's second-leading hitter, Stacie Toney, came up next but popped up to the infield. Krista Hicks reached on a fielder's choice that got Hicken out at home before Jenna Goar went down on strikes to end the inning.
Clayton led the Cougars with two hits while Almond led the pitching staff by allowing no runs and no hits with a team-high three strikeouts in 2.0 innings.
Toney came through in the clutch in the bottom of the seventh inning, going out of the park for her first grand slam and second home run of the year to suddnely tie Texas A&M, 8-8, but the Cougars couldn't get their second win of the season over the 14th-ranked Aggies.
Texas A&M hitter Mel Duzemich countered in the top of the eight inning, hitting her second grand slam of the game. The Cougars never recovered, losing by six runs.
Toney went 2 for 3 with a home run, a triple, five RBI, a walk and a run against the Aggies. Katie Manuma added a 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs, two RBI and one walk.
BYU took the initial lead by scoring three runs in the first with Hicken getting things started with a walk. Three-straight hits resulted in an RBI apiece on a double from Willard, a single by Manuma and a triple from Toney to give BYU a 3-1 lead.
A solo home run by Manuma, her first of the season, extended the lead to three runs, but Texas A&M scored the next seven runs of the game to run away with the game. Duzemich's first slam did the most damage for the Aggies in a five-run fifth. The Cougars had a chance to answer in the bottom of the same inning, getting two on with no outs and the heart of the order up, but again could not bring the runners around.
BYU is now 1-3 on the weekend and will close out its time in Cathedral City with a game against LIU Brooklyn on Saturday night at about 8:30 p.m. PT.