Riding the heels of an upset victory against conference-leading, in-state rival Utah last weekend, the fifth-seeded BYU softball team will take the field against fourth-seeded Colorado State Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the first-ever Mountain West Conference Championship tournament. All games will be played at Ute Field on the University of Utah campus.
The double-elimination Mountain West Conference Championship tournament begins with No. 3 seed San Diego State facing No. 6 UNLV Thursday at 9 a.m., followed by BYU's first-round meeting against Colorado State. The winner of the SDSU/UNLV game will face No. 2 New Mexico later that afternoon at 2 p.m., which earned a first-round bye. The BYU/CSU winner will take on No. 1 seed and host Utah, also a first-round bye recipient, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. If BYU loses its first game, it will face the loser of the New Mexico vs. SDSU/UNLV game Friday at 11:30 a.m.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
Ending its first-ever season as a Division I team, BYU is coming together when it matters the most, following a 2-8 MWC start to finish the second half of conference play 5-5 and 7-13 overall (16-25 in all games). Those wins include the team's first three against regionally ranked opponents the last two weekends when the Cougars swept conference foe New Mexico and split a doubleheader at Utah. The Cougars didn't take long to become seasoned against formidable opponents, playing a pre-conference season which included seven games against five national top-15 opponents. As a team, BYU is batting .252 on the season, with the pitching squad boasting an ERA of 3.14.
Season Series Against the Rams
BYU ended its four-game season series against Colorado State with a 1-3 record. In Fort Collins Apr. 8, the Cougars were shut out in game one, 6-0, before rebounding to pick up an 8-3 victory. Most recently, in Provo, BYU dropped two close one-run battles against the Rams, falling 1-0 and 4-3 in the home doubleheader.
Last Meeting Against the Rams
Though the Cougars failed to beat the Rams in their last two meetings, the opportunity to win was certainly there. In both games, BYU stranded a total of 15 baserunners (seven in game one; eight in game two) to Colorado State's seven. In the first game, the Cougars fell, 1-0, as Meghann Pricer picked up her 14th loss of the season. Mindy Hanson and Brooke Cadiente each went 2-for-3 in defeat. Game two was decided by a similarly narrow margin as BYU lost an early lead to fall, 4-3. Lindsay Jones was credited with the loss for BYU, her second of the season. Center fielder Lindsay Hodgen led the way offensively for the Cougars, going 3-for-4 with a stolen base batting in the leadoff spot.
BYU Probable Starters
Â•P - Maryon Dewitt - R/R, Jr. (9-9, 2.84 ERA, 99 SO)
Â•C -Cassie Martin - R/R, Fr. (.283, 15 hits, 3 runs, 5 RBI)
Â•1B - Mindy Hanson - R/R, Jr. (.313, 36 hits, 13 runs, 20 RBI)
Â•2B - Jackie Ellis - R/R, Jr. (.292, 35 hits, 22 runs, 17 RBI)
Â•SS - Becca Erickson - R/R, Jr. (.261, 31 hits, 12 runs, 13 RBI)
Â•3B - Megan Johnson - R/R, Fr. (.177, 14 hits, 6 runs, 2 RBI)
Â•RF - Brooke Cadiente - R/L, Fr. (.192, 24 hits, 16 runs, 18 RBI)
Â•CF - Lindsay Hodgen - R/R, Jr. (.293, 39 hits, 18 runs, 6 RBI)
Â•LF - Liz Smith - L/R, So. (.314, 33 hits, 18 runs, 6 RBI)
Â•DH - Jamie Kreipl - L/R, Fr. (.287, 23 hits, 7 runs, 6 RBI)
Colarado State Probable Starters
Â•P - Kyla Kiester - R/R, Jr. (13-15, 2.74 ERA, 77 SO)
Â•C - Alyson Carter - R/R, Sr. (.331, 47 hits, 23 runs, 28 RBI)
Â•1B - Jennie Orozco - R/R, Jr. (.212, 25 hits, 6 runs, 14 RBI)
Â•2B - Amanda Kocis - R/R, So. (.198, 24 hits, 15 runs, 9 RBI)
Â•SS - Holly Schmillen - R/R, Jr. (.380, 57 hits, 38 runs, 29 RBI)
Â•3B - Britannia Erickson - R/R, So. (.248, 27 hits, 10 runs, 14 RBI)
Â•RF - Katie Koch - L/R, Fr. (.189, 17 hits, 13 runs, 0 RBI)
Â•CF - Sara Hyzer - L/R, Sr. (.289, 43 hits, 20 runs, 16 RBI)
Â•LF - Leslie Strassel - R/R, Sr. (.235, 19 hits, 7 runs, 8 RBI)
Â•DH - Brooke Boyer - R/R, Fr. (.148, 9 hits, 5 runs, 5 RBI)
Junior Maryon Dewitt will get the call against Colorado State's Kyla Kiester. Both have made appearances in each of the four BYU/CSU games, with the two starting against each other once, on Apr. 8. Kiester pitched a three-hitter against the Cougars to earn the 6-0 win.
Dewitt finished the regular season at an even 9-9, posting a 2.84 ERA in 130.2 innings (25 appearances). Dewitt ended with 99 strikeouts, fourth in the conference, and 32 walks. Dewitt has made an appearance in 11 of BYU's 16 victories this season and took over the single-game conference record for strikeouts when she fanned 12 against UNLV on Mar. 31. Dewitt is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Rams this season. Kiester is 13-15 on the season with a 2.74 ERA in 181.2 innings pitched, striking out 77 and walking 81.
BYU Team Leaders
Sophomore outfielder Liz Smith rebounded from a concussion suffered against Utah Apr. 15 to move back to the top of the Cougar leader list with her team-best .314 batting average. Teammate Mindy Hanson ended the season just behind Smith at .313. Hanson also ended the team's RBI leader with 20, while second baseman Jackie Ellis led the way with 22 runs scored. Center fielder Lindsay Hodgen literally ran away with the team's stolen base title with 20 on the year.
Liz Smith is riding a six-game hitting streak, the longest by a Cougar this season, headed into the weekend. Smith is the team leader, batting .314 overall in the leadoff spot, and has connected for a .333 average in conference play this season. Mindy Hanson has the hottest bat against conference rivals, hitting .350, for a .313 overall average. Hanson batted .254 in BYU's first 27 games but took advantage of a .500 batting spree in 12 games at home to lift her average over 60 points. In addition, right fielder Brooke Cadiente should give the Rams cause for concern. Though batting just .192, the freshman is the team's best hitter against Ram pitching, going 5-for-13 (.385) in four games against Colorado State this season, including two runs, three RBI, and a home run.
Cougars on the Basepaths
BYU finished the season fourth in the Mountain West Conference with 47 stolen bases in all games, and tied for with San Diego State for third in conference play with 19. Lindsay Hodgen was the team leader with 20 stolen bases on the year, good for fourth in the conference. The Cougars have successfully stolen at least one base in 27 of their 41 games, and hold the conference record for most stolen bases in a single game with 6 against Santa Clara on Mar. 24.
By the Numbers
The Cougars have played in several close games in their first season, including 13 one-run games and four extra-inning battles. BYU is 6-7 in one-run games, and 1-3 in extra-innings. All four of the Cougars' extra-inning contests have been against conference opponents (Utah-2; San Diego State, UNLV), with the lone win coming in 12 innings in last weekend's four-and-a-half hour victory over Utah. BYU is 13-1 when leading going into the seventh, 2-3 when tied headed into the seventh, and 1-21 when trailing going into the final inning of play.
Cougars on the Internet
BYU's games can be accessed via a live webcast which can be found at http://www.fansonly.com/schools/mwc/sports/w-softbl/stats/033100aaa.html. Results will also be posted as they are
available on BYU's official athletics home page, www.byucougars.com.