TUCSON, Ariz. – Five home runs on the day pushed BYU softball to wins over Mount St. Mary’s and No. 15 Arizona in the doubleheader at the Wildcat Invitational on Thursday.
The Cougars improved to 11-6 on the season, pulling off their first upset of a top-15 team since beating No. 2 Oregon in Provo on March 24, 2014. It is BYU's first road upset of a top-15 team since a 9-8 victory in the 2010 NCAA regional against No. 7 Texas in Austin. Other wins have come at neutral sites.
"We had two nice wins today," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "In the Arizona game, we put all three phases of the game together: offense, defense and pitching. McKenna Bull threw a great game and got all of the offensive support she needed from our batters."
Libby Sugg and Coco Tauali’i Bond both hit a home run in both of the games today, bringing their season totals up to 10 and three, respectively. Sugg is already in third place for most home runs in a freshman season just 17 games in. McKenzie St. Clair also hit one beyond the fence in the game against the Mountaineers.
For the first time this season, BYU scored double-digit runs. The previous high in runs scored this season was nine against Hawai’i on Feb. 18. The Cougars also had a season-high 17 hits in the win over Mount St. Mary’s (0-10).
Arianna Paulson secured her first win of the season, throwing four strikeouts. Ashley Thompson and Sugg led the offensive effort with three RBI each. Lexi Tarrow and Caitlyn Larsen chipped in a pair of RBI.
Mount St. Mary’s took the early 1-0 lead in the first inning after a walk with the bases loaded, but BYU struck back hard in the top of the second. Singles from Gordy Bravo and Thompson, a triple from Tarrow and a two-run home run from Sugg put the Cougars up 6-1 heading into the third inning.
The Mountaineers responded in the third with three runs, cutting the Cougars’ lead to 6-4. However, BYU’s hot hitting continued, scoring five runs in the third inning. A triple from Larsen, doubles from Emilee Erickson and Alexa Strid, and a single from Thompson combined to score five runs on six hits to make it 11-4.
A BYU error gave an unearned run to Mount St. Mary’s, making it 11-5 in the bottom of the third. In the top of the sixth, St. Clair and Bond hit back-to-back solo home runs for two more runs. In the same inning, both Thompson and Sugg were walked with the bases loaded to bring in another pair of runs, putting BYU up 15-5 over Mount St. Mary’s.
The Mountaineers scored one run in the sixth, but it was not enough to avoid the mercy rule. BYU won 15-6 in six innings, its third game won by the mercy rule this season.
BYU’s 4-2 win over No. 15 Arizona (11-6) is the first win against a top-25 team this season. McKenna Bull led the team from the circle, throwing nine strikeouts while allowing just two walks. Both Bond and Sugg hit home runs in the contest. Sugg has hit a home run in four of five games against top-25 teams this season.
The Cougars got off to a rough start, allowing the Wildcats to get the first three batters out. Arizona scored one run in the first to take the early lead, but a solo home run from Sugg in the top of the second tied it up 1-1.
In the third inning, both teams scored one run. Bond hit her second home run of the day to put BYU up 2-1. Then in the bottom of the third, the Wildcats scored one unearned run, evening the score at 2-2.
In the fourth, the Cougars pushed ahead after Thompson scored from Madison Merrell’s hit. Merrell then reached home off of a Wildcat error, taking the 4-2 lead.
The rest of the game was a battle between the pitchers as no runs were scored. Bull’s nine total strikeouts kept the Wildcats from coming back in the game, and the Cougars completed the 4-2 upset.
BYU continues in the Wildcat Invitational on Friday with a doubleheader against Arizona and UTEP at 6 p.m. MST and 8 p.m. MST, respectively. Both games will have live video and live stats. Links for those websites can be found on the BYU schedule page.