(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
ST. GEORGE, Utah – Coco Taualii shrugged off a slow start to spark BYU to a split on the first day of the season Thursday winning against Southern Utah and losing to Weber State.
The Cougars (1-1) dropped the first game 4-3 to Weber State (1-0). BYU rebounded in the second game getting the 10-2 win over the Thunderbirds (0-2).
“I feel like today had some positive things happen and some not so positive,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “With a young team, and especially with young pitchers, we have to be patient. I saw signs that we are going in the right direction. So I am confident that when we really need it, it will be there.”
Taualii went 3-for-5 from the plate to go with two RBIs. Carly Duckworth hit .500 on the day to go along with two RBIs. Gordy Bravo led BYU in the first game going 2-for-2 and scoring a run. While Megan Arnold got the nod in the second game and went 2-for-3 with a three-run homerun.
After allowing the first three batters to load the bases, freshman McKenna Bull retired the next three batters in order to get out of the inning. The Cougars took the momentum into the bottom of the inning when Taualii drew a walk and Lacey Millett-Hofstedt had a bunt single. From there a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice helped Taualii to cross the plate for the game’s first run.
Bravo led off the bottom of the fourth with a bunt single. Katie Manuma then reached on an error and a bunt single from Duckworth loaded the bases. Ashley Thompson hit into a fielder’s choice and Sydney Broderick's sacrifice fly to brought in two more and gave the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
Weber State answered in the top of the fourth scoring a run with a single to left center to bring the score to 3-1. After retiring the side in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats took a 4-3 lead on a three-run homer from Aly Kulp.
Bravo singled again in the bottom of the sixth and used a couple of fielder’s choice to get to third, but BYU was unable to bring her across the plate. That was as close as the Cougars would get in the final innings.
BYU’s bats heated up in the second game starting with a lead-off homerun from Taualii. After Manuma drew a walk, Duckworth belted a two-run homerun to give the Cougars the 3-0 lead.
Southern Utah answered in the top of the second loading the bases on walks and then scoring two on an error. In the bottom of the second the Cougars got runners on first and second with a single from Arnold and a walk to McKenzie St. Clair. After a fielder’s choice, Taualii doubled down the left field line to bring St. Clair across the plate. Freshman Lauren Bell hit into a fielder’s choice to bring across Mercedes O’Connor and give the Cougars a 5-2 lead.
Freshmen led the way for BYU in the bottom of the fourth. Broderick led off the inning drawing a walk and two batters later, St. Clair hit her first career homerun to right-center pushing the lead to 7-2.
Duckworth started out the bottom of the fifth with a single and Broderick drew a walk to get runners on first and second. Arnold then came and sent a walk-off three-run shot over the left-field fence. Thompson earned the first win of her BYU career allowing only one hit.
The Cougars next play Nevada and East Carolina on Friday as the Classic continues.