Freshman Shelbi Everett hit a walk-off single to give BYU a 4-3 win over Mississippi State. (Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
EUGENE, Ore. - The BYU softball team won its first game of the NCAA Regional in dramatic fashion on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning by freshman Shelbi Everett to defeat Mississippi State 4-3 on Thursday.
With the win, the Cougars' 15th in a row, BYU (44-13) will face No. 11-seed and host Oregon (40-15) at 11 a.m. PT. Live audio, video and stat links will be available on the softball schedule page.
After playing to a 3-3 tie, the Cougars and Bulldogs went two extra before BYU could score another run. BYU loaded the bases in the eighth but couldn't bring one across, then put two on the following inning. Katie Manuma drew a walk and Carly Duckworth stole a base pinch running for Manuma before Krista Hicks drew a walk to give BYU runners on first and second.
With two outs, Everett stepped up to the plate having totaled 11 hits and four RBI in just 25 games this year. With the count at 1-1, the freshman catcher lifted a ball high to left field. With the crowd waiting to see where the ball landed, Duckworth scored the game-winning run as the ball hit off the top of the fence two feet inside the foul pole, giving BYU the victory.
The win is BYU's eighth walk-off victory of the season.
"She's just a freshman, but has been learning and progressing nicely," said BYU coach Gordon Eakin of Everett. "Over the last two or three weeks she's gotten better and more confident at the plate and has made some clutch hits, so my gut was to leave her in and she delivered."
BYU also pulled off a rare triple play in the top of the seventh, a huge momentum shift after the Bulldogs put two on with no outs. A sharp hit was caught by Cougar third baseman Ashlee Brawley on what appeared to be a hit-and-run. With both runners way off the bags, Brawley threw to Toney at second who went to Manuma at third for the 5-4-3 play.
Hannah Howell started the game and went six innings for BYU, striking out three and allowing three runs before Tori Almond came in. Almond allowed one hit with no runs and no walks in the final three innings to be credited with the victory, going to 19-3 this season.
Jessica Dugas led BYU with three hits, one run and an RBI.
The Cougars scored first in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs. Stacie Toney and Krista Hicks both reached safely and Toney came in for the first run off a Dugas single.
With runners on second and third, Tiffany Messerschmidt hit a chopper against a Bulldog infield that was playing way in. The ball bounced in front of the third baseman before going over her head, scoring both runners.
Mississippi State tacked on three of its own in the fifth to tie the game before BYU could end it in the bottom of the ninth.
With a win against Oregon tomorrow, BYU would be in the Regional championship to be played Saturday. With a loss, the Cougars will play the winner of Mississippi State and Portland State, needing a win there to reach the final day in the double elimination format.