Home Opener, Conference Opener This Week

Sophomore Jenna Goar
PROVO, Utah - The BYU softball team hosts its home opener against Idaho State on Tuesday, March 20, before playing its first-ever Western Athletic Conference series this weekend against New Mexico State at Gail Miller Field.

The Cougars will play Idaho State (3-19) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday before playing New Mexico State (17-12) on Friday, March 23, at 6 p.m. and a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. All three games will be nationally televised on BYUtv.

BYU (15-8) has won six of its last seven and currently owns the second-best overall record among WAC teams. Senior outfielder Delaney Willard leads the Cougars with a .493 batting average, the second-best mark among all NCAA Division I players.

Miller Field has hosted 21-straight BYU wins, giving the Cougars the second-best home win streak in the nation. BYU has lost just two home openers all-time (2000, 2004) going 10-2 overall. BYU also has a 9-3 record in conference openers, with its last defeat coming in 2008.  

COUGAR QUICK HITS
— BYU begins its first conference game as a member of the WAC with a three-game series against New Mexico State this weekend. After Idaho State visits Miller Field on Tuesday, the Cougars will host the Aggies on Friday with a doubleheader on Saturday. All games will be televised live on BYUtv.
— The Cougars have never lost to the Bengals or Aggies, posting a 10-0 record against the former and a 1-0 series lead over the latter. This is NMSU’s first visit to Provo.
— Senior Delaney Willard has led the way for BYU this season and is ranked in the NCAA top-15 in four different categories, including batting average (2nd, .493), slugging percentage (9th, .910), on base percentage (11th, .568) and RBI per game (12th, 1.3).
— BYU puts its 21-game home win streak on the line this season after going 14-0 at home in 2011. BYU’s next six games are at home including a doubleheader vs. UMKC on March 27.
— The Cougars have won six of their last seven, with the lone loss coming against No. 5 Arizona State.

OPPONENT NOTES
 
IDAHO STATE
• BYU has never lost to Idaho State, boasting a 10-0 record overall
• Last season, BYU beat the Bengals in one of the closest games in the series, winning 2-0 off an 11-strikeout effort from pitcher Paige Affleck
• Vicky Galasso is the Idaho State’s top hitter with a .343 average, 23 hits, three home runs and 17 RBI
• In the circle, three Bengal pitchers have shared the innings this season. Amanda Fitzsimmons leads the team with 47.2 innings pitched and a 5.73 ERA.
• Idaho State has dropped its last eight contests and has not scored more than two runs in a game since February 24 against South Dakota.
• Among common opponents, BYU and Idaho State both lost to Oregon State and both defeated Memphis while the Cougars defeated UC Davis, a team the Bengals lost to on March 11.
 
NEW MEXICO STATE
• The Cougars and Aggies have not faced each other since BYU coach Gordon Eakin’s first season in 2003
• Amber Olive leads the team with a .441 average with 41 hits, the most hits of any player in the WAC. Tiare Jennings is the Aggies’ big bat with six home runs, five doubles and 29 RBI.
• New Mexico State leads the WAC with a .314 team batting average but is seventh of eight teams with a 4.55 team ERA.
• Among common opponents, BYU and NMSU have both defeated Indiana and LIU Brooklyn and both lost to Arizona State and San Diego State. BYU defeated Oregon and Pacific, two teams to which the Aggies have lost.

UNBEATABLE AT HOME
The Cougars have the second-longest home win streak in the nation, having currently won 21 in a row, including a 14-0 season last year. BYU will play its first home game of the 2012 season against Idaho State this Tuesday, March 20. Louisiana-Lafayette has a 31-game home win streak.
 
GETTING OUT EARLY
Of BYU’s 15 wins this season, the Cougars have won five (including its last three) in less than seven innings so far this season due to the mercy rule. BYU defeated UCSB 12-4 in six innings, Cal State Northridge 11-1 in six, Charlotte 9-0 in five, Purdue 14-1 in five and UC Davis 9-0 in six innings. In
2011, BYU had 11 such games. In the Cougars’ 10 other victories, six have come by just a single run.

MOVIN’ ON UP
Several Cougars are in the BYU career record books. Junior pitcher Hannah Howell needs four more strikeouts to move into No. 9 on the all-time list. Junior JC Clayton is No. 2 in career batting average, No. 10 in triples and No. 11 in stolen bases. Senior Delaney Willard is No. 9 in slugging percentage and on base percentage and Jessica Dugas is No. 9 on the stolen base list.
 
SHE’S BACK
After a slow start, sophomore pitcher Tori Almond has picked up three straight complete-game. Almond went a full seven innings, allowing no walks and one run with seven Ks for the victory vs. Cal State Northridge, then had seven strikeouts, no runs and two walks in a one-hitter the next day vs. Charlotte. Last week in a start against Purdue, Almond compiled a career-high 10 strikeouts.
 
UNSUNG SENIOR
Senior Stacie Toney has quietly put up big numbers for the Cougars this year at the plate. Toney leads BYU with 10 multi-hit games, including four such games at the Desert Classic. One of two players on the roster to get married this past summer, Toney is second on the team with a .397 batting average, six doubles, 18 RBI and 39 total bases with a .619 slugging percentage.

BYU IN THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
BYU is ranked in the top 100 nationally in a number of statistical categories:

Category, Actual, Rank
Double Plays per Game, 0.43, 30th
Scoring, 5.57, 42nd
Batting Average, .295, 53rd
Win/Lose Percentage, .652, 63rd
Slugging Percentage, .416, 82nd
Home Runs per Game, 0.65, 91st
Doubles per Game, 1.17, 100th
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BYU vs. Idaho State, New Mexico State1.96 MB