(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif.—The BYU softball team lost both games in its opening day of the Mary Nutter Classic after a grand slam in the top of the seventh lifted No. 11 LSU over BYU 10-6 and an error propelled Oklahoma State to the 3-2 victory against the Cougars on Thursday in Palm Springs.
BYU (4-7) had 11 hits to LSU’s 12, but the Tigers hit three home runs to score eight of its 10 runs in defeat of the Cougars. JC Clayton, Marissa Bravo, Alexandra Hudson Shamo and Carly Duckworth each had two hits apiece in the game. Megan Arnold blasted the only home run for BYU, her first of the season, for two RBI. Hannah Howell pitched 4.1 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits alongside seven strikeouts. Caroline Umphlett pitched 2.2 innings and gave up five runs on four hits for her first loss of the season.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth, BYU brought in four runs on four hits to tie up the game. The Cougars chipped away at the LSU (11-1) lead as Arnold smacked a home run to bring in Duckworth who had singled to start the inning. Shamo followed with her second single of the day to force an LSU pitching change. Two walks and a sacrifice bunt from Ashlee Brawley Robinson loaded the bases for BYU and Bravo took advantage with a double to right center to bring in two runs and tie the game at 6-6.
LSU fought back in the top of the seventh and loaded the bases with one out. Howell re-entered the game for Umphlett and gave up a grand slam to her first batter to give LSU every run back that BYU earned in the bottom of the sixth to take the 10-6 victory.
To start the game, BYU surrendered a single to the lead-off batter for LSU and she scored on a home run from teammate Allison Falcon to give the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead.
BYU’s bats responded in the bottom of the inning with back-to-back singles from Clayton and Lacey Millett. Bravo moved both runners into scoring position on a ground out to the pitcher and then Katie Manuma attempted a squeeze play to bring in Clayton, but popped the ball up to third base. However, an error from the shortstop scored Clayton to cut the Tiger lead to 2-1.
Howell handed out two K’s in the top of the second to hold LSU from crossing the plate, but the Tigers added one more run in the top of the third on two singles to take back the two-run lead at 3-1.
Clayton started the bottom of the third with her second hit of the day and scored off singles from Bravo and Manuma to put BYU one run closer at 3-2.
Another run from LSU in the top of the fourth prompted a pitching change for BYU as Umphlett came in to relieve Howell for just her third appearance of the season. Umphlett recorded the last out on a popup to left field to send BYU into the bottom of the inning.
LSU smashed another two-run home run in the top of the fifth to cushion its lead at 6-2.
Duckworth started the bottom of the seventh as she did in the sixth with a single to shortstop, but LSU’s pitcher struck out the next three Cougar batters to take the 10-6 win.
BYU (4-8) and Oklahoma State (6-5) each had five hits apiece in the game. Clayton and Coryn Tauali'i scored the two Cougar runs and each had a hit. Clayton also extended her season hitting streak to 11 games and still has a hit in every game of the season but one. Bravo was clutch again with a late-inning base hit to bring in the only Cougar RBI of the day. Tori Almond started the game and gave up only two earned runs on five hits in six innings of work.
The Cowgirls jumped on the scoreboard early with a solo home run to go up 1-0 in the bottom of the first, but BYU took advantage of two errors in the top of the third to earn the run back. Tauali’i started the inning with an infield single and was bunted over to third by Clayton. An error from the shortstop allowed Tauali’i to score for the first Cougar run.
Oklahoma state threatened to score in the bottom of the frame with a lead-off double to start things off, but BYU’s defense held the next three batters off the bases to keep the game tied at 1-1.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, the Cowgirls pushed in another run on a fielder’s choice that scored the runner from the third, but Almond was able to strike out the next batter to send the game into the fifth.
Tauali’i walked to start the inning and then Oklahoma State brought in a new pitcher to face Clayton, who took the walk to place runners on first and second with no outs, but BYU wasn’t able to convert. In the bottom of the fifth, Almond struck out two batters and Arnold threw out the runner attempting to steal third.
Oklahoma State added a security run in the bottom of the sixth off a single and a Cougar error to go up 3-1. BYU rallied in the top of the seventh and with two outs and Clayton on second, Bravo struck again with a single up the middle to bring in Clayton and cut the score to 3-2, but Manuma’s line drive to the second baseman was caught to end the game.
BYU will play one game tomorrow against UNLV at 1 p.m. PST and it will be available via gametracker. Also check the BYU softball Facebook page for live updates throughout.