LOS ANGELES – BYU softball came out with a chip on its shoulder, run-ruling Loyola Marymount University 10-2 in six innings Saturday afternoon at Smith Field in Los Angeles.
“We’re a pretty good team when we show up,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “Our players played for the team today. It’s much different than playing for themselves.”
Pitcher McKenna Bull (34-7) provided a steady hand in the circle, throwing all six innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits with eight strikeouts, including seven of the first eight LMU batters.
The Cougars improved to 39-12 and finished 13-2 in West Coast Conference play as the Lions concluded their season at 26-28 (8-7 WCC).
Ashley Thompson led BYU with two hits in addition to scoring two runs and driving in two. Mercedes O’Connor belted her fifth home run of the year while also adding two RBI. Coco Tauali’i shined at the plate by driving in three runs and hitting her team-leading 11th home run on the season.
The Cougars struck first as Gordy Bravo led off with a single to right field. She scored on a Thompson sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead after the top of the first.
In the bottom half of the frame, Bull went to work as she struck out the side with two going down swinging and one looking.
In the second inning BYU exchanged three hits and an LMU error for three runs beginning with Tauali’i’s one-out home run to center.
After a passed ball advanced the runners to second and third, Strid scored from third on a wild pitch. The fleet-footed Hofstedt also scored for a 4-0 lead at the middle of the second, taking advantage of the LMU pitcher turning her back when walking back to the circle.
Bull repeated her three strikouts of the first inning, getting three Lions to go down swinging.
LMU got some movement in the third frame, scoring one run off a double to the left-center gap, cutting the lead to 4-1.
In the top of the fifth O’Connor cranked a 1-0 pitch to left, hitting the protective nets between the softball field and the tennis courts for her second home run of the series. Thompson then followed with a single up the middle before Sydney Broderick’s double that hit the wall in the right-center gap.
With runners on second and third, Thompson slid across home plate on McKenzie St. Clair’s fielder’s choice. Broderick added the third run of the inning on Tauali’i’s sacrifice fly for the 7-1 Cougar lead.
Two walks and an infield single gave the Lions an at-bat with bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, but they couldn’t capitalize as Bull got the cleanup batter to pop out to Bravo in center.
In the sixth Hofstedt led off with a walk before stealing her 24th base of the season. Bravo followed with a walk, and both runners advanced on Lauren Bell’s sacrifice bunt. Hofstedt then scored on O'Connor's groundout for the 8-1 advantage.
Next, Thompson came to the plate, knocking in a run on a single to right-center. Consecutive walks by Broderick, St. Clair and Tauali’i scored Thompson for the 10-1 tally heading into the bottom of the sixth.
LMU scored once in the bottom of the frame but failed to extend the game, giving the Cougars the victory in six innings.
BYU softball will learn of its regional postseason destination on the NCAA Softball Selection Special Presented by Capital One on Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT on ESPNU.