BYU pitcher Summer Tobias broke the team record with 19 wins as she added a win to her record against No. 2 Cal Thursday at Regionals. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
FRESNO -- After an intense five innings with no hits for the Cougars, No. 25 BYU opened the 2005 NCAA Softball Regionals kicking No. 2 Cal into the losers bracket with a 3-1 victory at Bulldog Diamond Thursday evening.
The Cougars came into the toughest regional site of the tournament with optimism and skill as they opened against Cal who played in the last three Women's College World Series title games.
"In the initial press conference I said we were trying to mirror Cal and that's what we're doing," said BYU head coach Eakin. "It is a huge win today. I think we were the only people in the nation who thought we could win today."
The Bears took the early lead 1-0 after Cal second base senior Jessica Pamanian ran home off teammate Alex Sutton's single up the center.
BYU pitcher Summer Tobias pitched her 19th win of the season, breaking the team record for wins. Tobias and the rest of the defense held the Bears scoreless the rest of the night.
"I was pretty focused tonight and I knew my team would come back," Tobias said.
With only two innings left in the game and the Cougars down by one, Lauren Watson-Perry broke the no hitter streak as she drove the ball down the right line. Krystle Chamberlain followed Watson-Perry as she drove the next ball into left field. With one out and power hitter Le`i on board, Watson-Perry got to third on a wild pitch. Le`i popped the ball deep to center, but it looked like the wind caught the ball keeping it in as Cal shortstop Chelsea Spencer got Le`i out.
Cal seemed a bit nervous at that point as Cal's Kristina Thorson intentionally walked Russell, but that cautious pitching only helped give BYU the advantage. With two outs and two strikes, BYU Paige Paramore hit a double clutch line drive through the left side to bring home Watson-Perry, Chamberlain and pinch runner Milli Jones giving the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.
BYU's comeback didn't come without some adversity on the field. Immediately after incredible BYU scoring and with two outs, BYU pinch runner freshman Emi Snow was knocked unconscious at home by Cal catcher Haley Woods. The game was delayed for about 20 minutes while paramedics administered aid to Snow. Although Snow left the field on a stretcher, she showed the crowd a good sign as she waved bye.
"When she left in the ambulance she was making jokes and her vitals looked good," Eakin said. "When you get to this level, the play is hard. I don't think there was any malice in the play."
After a dramatic beginning, BYU losing a player to injuries and gaining a 3-1 advantage, the Cougars regained composure and Tobias entered the bottom of the sixth inning throwing a no hitter.
After it looked like Jennifer Whiteley stole 2nd in the top of the seventh, the ump called her out for removing her helmet while the ball was in play. Following a discussion with the ump, Eakin was thrown out of the game.
The Cougars didn't let any adversity get in their way tonight as they walked away victorious in the first round of the tournament.
BYU will face No. 15 Fresno in Bulldog territory tomorrow at 3 p.m.
"Fresno is pretty tough at home, with Jamie Southern pitching (ERA 0.41), but we'll just take it play by play," Eakin said.
The winner of the BYU-Fresno State game will advance to the next round facing the winner of the Cal-LBSU game Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The loser of tomorrow's match-up with BYU and Fresno will play the winner of the Bears-49ers game at 8:00 p.m.
Fresno State dominated its first game of the tournament earlier today as they swept Long Beach State 4-0. The Bears will face the 49ers tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.