COLUMBIA, Mo. – BYU softball fell 9-0 to No. 15 Missouri in five innings on Thursday in the second game of the NCAA Columbia Regional after giving up six runs in the second inning.
“Missouri deserves the credit," BYU coach Gordon Eakin said. "They took it to us. They hit the ball really well and their pitcher was bringin it. Now it's win or go home."
BYU (35-20) lost its second game to Missouri (40-14) of the season. The Cougars were run-ruled after giving up nine earned runs and only getting two hits. McKenna Bull had four strikeouts from the circle, but her record dropped to 26-12. Gordy Bravo and Madison Merrell had the only two hits of the game.
Bravo got the game going with a lead-off single to centerfield. Following two strikeouts, Bravo was caught stealing with two outs, ending the top of the first. The Tigers got on the board with an RBI single past first base to take the 1-0 lead after the first inning. Bull’s second strikeout of the inning retired Mizzou.
After being retired in order, BYU gave up six runs in the bottom of the second. Four of those runs came from a grand slam by Amanda Sanchez over the right field fence to give the Tigers a 7-0 advantage.
The bats were still hot in the bottom of the third for Mizzou, scoring two more runs off of back-to-back hits. BYU was down 9-0 with just one hit after three innings.
The Cougars’ tough defense and pitching in the fourth inning held the Tigers scoreless for the first time in the game, going three up, three down in their lineup to keep the score at 9-0.
The top of the fifth was BYU’s last chance to make a rally to avoid the mercy rule. Merrell got it started with an infield single but the Cougars then went down in order to end the game.
BYU will play Louisville for the chance to continue in the tournament at 3:30 p.m. CDT on Friday. The game will be live on ESPN3 with live stats available on the BYU softball schedule page.
Head Coach Gordon Eakin
“Missouri, they deserve credit. They took it to us. There’s not a lot more we can say than that. They’re a great team. They hit the ball really well. [Paige] Lowary was bringing it tonight, seemed to have command of her pitches pretty well. And then they played defense when we moved the ball. So, they took it to us. They deserve credit.”
On what made tonight a little bit different against Missouri…
“I thought the difference between now and February when we played them before, I thought Missouri played with purpose tonight. I thought they were very determined as a team. With McKenna [Bull pitching], when we came into this, we were optimistic that we can compete with Missouri, and I still think we can. I just think they played an incredible game and they were determined. But, McKenna threw 108 pitches in four innings. You can read into that whatever you want to, but we were unable to throw to the zone that was being called. Then, she got too much of the plate against very good hitters. And when that happens, it results in 108 pitches in four innings and nine runs. So, again, most of that credit has to go to the way Missouri attacked us as hitters.”
On whether his team is put at a disadvantage based on travel…
“I wouldn’t say that had a lot to do with the game, no. We’re used to traveling.”
On whether he felt his offense would have to come up with a big game to defeat Missouri…
“A big game? No. I thought we were going to have to score three or four runs probably, but I think on a certain day, McKenna is capable of holding them down, as good of hitters as they are. I told Ehren [Earleywine] at the end of the game when we shook hands, I said, ‘If you keep playing like that, you’re going to go a long way.’ They were impressive tonight.”
On what they need to do the rest of the weekend…
“It’s win or go home, obviously, but I don’t know that that challenge gets any bigger than playing Missouri on Missouri’s field. That was a challenge right from the start. Again, I can’t give them enough credit. They have great athletes. They’re fast, they’re strong, they’re well-coached. They have pitching, defense and hitting. Now we go against Louisville, and it’s win or go home, and we’re going to come out aggressive and we’re going to fight until the end and we’re not going to worry about what happens after that game. We’re going to worry about the first pitch, the second pitch and the third pitch.”
OF Gordy Bravo
On what made Paige Lowary so tough to face…
“She threw really hard, something that we haven’t seen in a while. She kept the ball at a good height, I’d say, and she stayed there.”
On how the team will handle this situation having been in that same spot before…
“I think we’re a pretty calm team. We don’t get hyped up in other people’s names. So, we came and I felt we were pretty well-prepared, especially for Mizzou. We came out, we knew exactly what they were going to do to us and we did the best that we could.”
1B Ashley Thompson
On whether the team felt they would have to outscore Missouri with a strong offensive game…
“Yeah, you always have to outscore the other team. We kind of just erased the previous game that we had played against them and decided that coming into regionals was a new day for us.”
On how Missouri was the same or different from the previous meeting…
“We’re at their home field so obviously the energy is a little different with their fans and everything, so it was a little bit higher intensity. It’s always intimidating when you’re at someone else’s home field, but you’ve got to erase all that.”