Mercedes O'Connor had an RBI on the first two hits of her career. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
STANFORD, Calif. – McKenzie St. Clair and Megan Arnold both homered to lead BYU softball to a 6-3 win over North Dakota State before falling 7-5 in a back-and-forth game against No. 17/22 Stanford on Saturday.
“Our schedule has been relentless this year playing one good team after another,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "We played two great teams today, and we played two excellent games but just couldn’t get over the hump. I think we are getting better and going in the right direction. If we keep fighting hard we will be able to get over the hump.”
Sydney Broderick had another good day from the plate for BYU (9-13) going 4-for-6 with two runs. Mercedes O’Connor added a 2-for-5 performance with two RBIs. Tori Almond was credited with the win over North Dakota State (12-7), going 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts.
North Dakota State opened up an early lead getting a runner on off an error followed by a two-out double for the 1-0 lead. BYU would answer in the third after Ashlee Robinson drew a walk and Coco Tauali’i sacrificed her over to second. St. Clair then reached first on a throwing error by the pitcher, allowing Robinson to score and tie the game.
Almond retired all three batters in the top of the fourth, and Broderick singled up the middle with two outs to get a runner on. Broderick stole second and O’Connor drove her in with her first career hit to give BYU the 2-1 lead.
The Bison didn’t give up, tying the game in the top of the fifth with a home run to center field. In the bottom of the frame, Robinson doubled and Tauali’i singled to put runners on the corners with one out. St. Clair then homered to left field to give the Cougars a 5-2 lead. With two outs, Arnold came to the plate and hit a solo shot to left field to make it 6-2. The home run also gave BYU 18 on the season, equaling its home run total from the 2013 season.
North Dakota State scored one more in the sixth to trim BYU’s lead to 6-3. After a scoreless bottom of the sixth, the Bison loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh. McKenna Bull came in and struck out the final two batters to earn the first save of her career.
Bull and Stanford’s pitcher Madi Schreyer were outstanding to start the second game as both teams were scoreless through three full innings. Stanford (20-6) was able to take advantage of a two-out error to load the bases in the fourth inning before scoring two off of consecutive singles to take a 2-0 lead.
Arnold walked to start the top of the fifth inning for BYU and Broderick followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Broderick advanced to second on a fielder’s choice by the catcher before a passed ball scored pinch-runner Lacey Millett Hofstedt. O’Connor then singled to right field to bring Broderick in and tie the game at two. Stanford answered, howevever, scoring two off a walk, single and a double to take a 4-2 lead.
BYU responded with Tauali’i getting a bunt single, Gordy Bravo singling through the left side and Hofstedt being hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. A wild pitch scored Tauali’i before Katie Manuma hit a grounder to the pitcher to score Bravo and tie the game at four. The Cougars then took the lead when Hofstedt scored on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a 5-4 advantage and end their half of the inning. Stanford came back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the frame, hitting a double, single and a triple to take a 6-5 lead. A passed ball gave the Cardinal the last run of the game as they went on to win 7-5.
BYU heads next to Honolulu to play in the Rainbow Wahine Classic with games beginning Wednesday against James Madison at 1 p.m. HST and No. 2/5 Oregon at 3 p.m. HST.