Tori Almond started the Cougars off right in the circles striking out three over two innings. (Photo by Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo)
OREM, Utah – A strong all-around effort and the combined pitching of Tori Almond, McKenna Bull and Ashley Thompson gave BYU softball its 16th no-hitter in program history in a 9-0 victory over Utah Valley on Tuesday.
“The pitchers did a nice job today,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “When you combine three pitchers and end up with a no-hitter it’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.”
Almond and Bull each threw two innings and combined for five strikeouts for BYU (17-20, 2-1 WCC). Thompson closed the game with one inning pitched and caught one UVU (11-23, 4-2 WAC) batter looking.
Seven BYU batters ended with a hit led by Lauren Bell’s 2-for-3 effort with two runs scored and Gordy Bravo’s 2-for-2 game with one run and one RBI.
“We came out and played well today,” Eakin said. “We got a quick lead in the first inning and just built on that. We were hoping to play well and get a confidence booster going into this weekend’s conference games and that’s the way it turned out.”
With two outs in the first inning, Bravo and Thompson walked to put a runner in scoring position and Katie Manuma singled to shallow center field to give BYU the 1-0 lead. Mckenzie St. Clair followed with a single of her own to center field to score Thompson.
Mercedes O’Connor singled up the middle to score Manuma and St. Clair stole home as the pitcher turned her back to third giving BYU a 4-0 lead. After Carly Duckworth reached on an error, a double steal scored O’Connor from third and Duckworth advanced to third on the throw home making it 5-0 heading to the bottom of the inning. Almond struck out one and Bell added an impressive scoop and throw as well as a stretching catch running to her right to retire the side in the bottom of the inning.
Sydney Broderick started the top of the second inning with a hard-hit single up the middle. Bell singled with a well-placed bunt and both runners scored when the third baseman’s errant throw to second got past the outfielder and to the center-field fence giving BYU a 7-0 lead.
After BYU went down in order in the top of the third, Bull came in to relieve Almond and retired all three batters she faced including one strikeout.
Bell and Bravo each doubled down the left-field line to lead off the top of the fourth and give BYU the 8-0 lead. Thompson then reached on a high throw to first base and pinch runner Lacey Millett Hofstedt scored to make it 9-0. Bell made a diving catch just in front of second base to record the first out of the bottom of the frame and Ashlee Robinson followed it up with a running catch and throw to first for out number two. Bull finished off the clean inning with a strikeout.
Thompson entered in the fifth inning and walked the first batter to end the opportunity of a perfect game, but retired the next three batters to preserve the no-hitter.
BYU returns home Friday and Saturday for a three-game series against conference foe Santa Clara. There will be one game on Friday at 6 p.m. MDT and a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon MDT. The series will be broadcast live by BYUtv.