Taualii hit 5 of 6 on the day with four RBI and two runs scored. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – Coco Taualii had four RBI in game one and Megan Arnold had three in game two during Tuesday’s doubleheader to lead the Cougars to two 8-0 wins over Southern Utah at Gail Miller Field.
“I thought we played solid today in all three aspects, pitching, defense and offense, and it’s nice to take care of business two games in a row,” head coach Gordon Eakin said. “I thought Hannah threw a real nice game and I thought Tori gave us four really good innings.”
Hannah Howell (12-14) pitched 5 and 2/3 inning of relief to earn the win in game one. Coco Taualii led four Cougars who registered a multi-hit game, going 4 for 4 with three RBI and one run scored. JC Clayton recorded three hits and Carly Duckworth and Madisen Robb each added two hits.
BYU pitcher Howell relieved starting pitcher Caroline Umphlett with the bases loaded in the first inning and got two outs to get the Cougars out of a jam.
In the third inning, BYU took advantage of timely hitting to score three runs. Bravo and Katie Manuma reached to load the bases and a walk to Alexandra Hudson Shamo allowed the first run to score. Taualii then laced a two-RBI double to left-center field to plate Bravo and Manuma for the 3-0 lead.
A throwing error on the final out of the fourth inning allowed the Cougars to score two more runs. Bravo laid down a bunt and the throw to first was behind the first baseman to score Clayton from third. Manuma also smacked a single to left-center field to score Bravo in the inning, who had stole second base to put herself into scoring position.
Robb made an outstanding play at third base to keep the Thunderbirds off the board in the top of the fifth. The SUU batter drilled a liner towards third that Robb robbed out of the air and threw to first for the final out.
BYU added another run in the bottom of the frame off a sacrifice bunt by Bailie Hicken to score Taualii.
In the sixth inning, Duckworth crushed a lead-off double to left-center field to spark a two-run inning for BYU. Jenna Goar drew a walk and then Megan Arnold moved Duckworth and Goar to third and second on a grounder to the pitcher. Taualii floated a single just over the shortstop’s glove to plate Duckworth and move Goar to third. Robb followed with a single up the middle for the walk-off 8-0 victory, ending the game due to the eight-run mercy rule.
Mylee Davis led the team, going a perfect 3 for 3 while Arnold punched in two hits, two runs scored and three RBI in game two. Tori Almond improved to 9-6 on the season after throwing four scoreless innings and giving up just three hits.
In the top of the first, the Cougars took control early with three-straight outs to start the game. Ashlee Brawley Robinson highlighted the inning with a 5-4-3 double play.
While at bat, Lacey Millet scored BYU’s first run of the night after reaching on an infield single. She stole second as well as third, and a single from Bravo sent Millett home. With Bravo on first, Taualii and Duckworth were both hit by the pitcher. Bravo scored on a wild pitch to extend the Cougars lead to 2-0.
With Duckworth and Manuma on base, Arnold hit a double that bounced off the center-field fence to send both players home and give the Cougars a 4-0 lead. A single from Robinson sent Arnold in for one final score in the first inning for the 5-0 advantage.
In the top of the third, Almond struck out two and the third was out at first. SUU followed suit by making quick work of BYU to end the third.
After walking the first two runners in the top of the fourth, Almond forced two fly balls, which were both caught by Duckworth, and then struck out the last batter to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the fourth, BYU scored three more runs to give the team an 8-0 lead. Bravo came up to bat first for the Cougars and smacked a base hit up the middle. With Bravo on third, Taualii smoked a double to score Bravo for a 6-0 advantage. Another hit from Arnold sent Taualii in for another score and then a double from Davis, her first of the season and third hit of the night, sent Arnold home for an 8-0 lead.
SUU looked to score to stay in the game and avoide the mercy rule again in the top of the fifth inning. With two batters on base, Mikkel Griffin hit a shallow ball to center field, which nearly scored teammate Kelli Hales. However, Duckworth threw a strike to BYU’s catcher Davis, who chased the runner back to third and eventually tagged her for the out. A backhand play from Taualii for the final out gave the Cougars their second 8-0 win of the night.
The Cougars return to Gail Miller field Friday and Saturday for back-to-back double headers against Saint Mary’s. The games on Friday begin at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. MDT followed by games on Saturday, which will begin at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. MDT. Saturday will be senior day for the Cougars, recognizing JC Clayton, Bailie Hicken, Alexandra Hudson Shamo and Hannah Howell. All games will be broadcast live on BYUtv.