O'Connor was 3-for-3 with two RBI. (Photo by Jim Nicholson)
SEATTLE – Mercedes O’Connor went perfect from the plate, but BYU softball was unable to control Northwestern in an 8-3 loss in the NCAA regional semifinal game on Friday.
“We never recovered from the Washington game,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “Northwestern’s a great team, but we didn’t rebound and didn’t play at near the level we are capable of playing.”
With a runner on second in the top of the first, Northwestern’s Marisa Bast doubled off the left-field fence to score one. Sydney Broderick walked and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch. Gordy Bravo walked and Katie Manuma singled to left field to bring in Broderick. Walks to Ashley Thompson and McKenzie St. Clair loaded the bases for O’Connor. O’Connor hit one hard just under the shortstop’s glove to bring in two and give BYU the 3-1 lead.
Northwestern put runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the second, but a batter popped up to Ashlee Robinson in foul territory to end the threat. BYU put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the frame, but the Wildcats got out of the jam with consecutive groundouts.
The Wildcats got a lead-off triple and a two-out bloop single in the top of the third to close the gap to 3-2 heading into the fourth. McKenna Bull struck out three batters in the inning.
The Wildcats got a lead-off home run in the top of the fourth to tie the game at three. Tori Almond came in for Bull and Northwestern was able to get a single and another home run to center field to take the 5-3 lead. After a double and a steal put a runner on third, Almond fielded a ground ball and threw out the runner at first, but the throw home was just late as the Wildcats made it 6-3 heading to the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Robinson singled and Broderick doubled to put runners in scoring position, but Northwestern retired the next three batters to get out of the jam.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Wildcats added two more with a home run to left field making it 8-3 in their favor.
The Cougars will set their sights on next year and improving in the offseason.
“Our future is bright,” Eakin said. “We talked with those returning about not liking this feeling and using it as motivation in the offseason.”