Cougars rally to beat Gauchos, 8-3

BYU softball battled to score eight unanswered as it beat UC Santa Barbara 8-3 on its final day of the Capital Classic.

Violet Zavodnik comes home after hitting solo home run against UC Santa Barbara in the Capital Classic on March 2, 2024Violet Zavodnik comes home after hitting solo home run against UC Santa Barbara in the Capital Classic on March 2, 2024

DAVIS, Calif. — BYU softball battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to beat UC Santa Barbara 8-3 on its final day of the Capital Classic at La Rue Field on Saturday morning.


After a sluggish start to begin the game, the Cougars (14-4, 0-0 Big 12) came from behind to score eight unanswered, plating runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to close out their early season non-conference slate with a win.

Player Highlights

  • Violet Zavodnik: 2-3, HR, RBI
  • Tristen Turlington: 2-2, 2B, RBI
  • Maddie Bejarano: 1-1, 3 RBI
  • Gianna Mares (W, 3-1): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 K
  • Kate Dahle (S, 1): 2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 K

UC Santa Barbara plated two in the top of the first inning, stringing together three singles to take an early lead.

BYU loaded the bases in its half of the first on a four-pitch walk to Ailana Agbayani, sacrifice bunt fielding error that helped Maddie Bejarano reach base, and Violet Zavodnik bunt single, but a fielder’s choice and inning-ending double play squandered the opportunity.

Settling in, starting pitcher Gianna Mares retired the side in order in the second inning, but the Cougars hit into another double play to end the home half of the frame.

Breaking through in the bottom of the third, Tristen Turlington and Agbayani both singled, with the latter coming on a bunt to third. Bejarano advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt, and both runners would score on wild pitches during Zavodnik’s at bat. She walked, stole second and advanced to third on a UCSB error, coming home on a Huntyr Ava sacrifice fly as the Cougars took a 3-2 lead.

Adding to its lead in the fourth inning, Maddie Udall led off with a single. Her pinch runner, Lexie Bennett, moved to second on a Keila Kamoku sacrifice bunt and scored on Turlington’s double to left center. Turlington came home on a Bejarano single, extending the BYU advantage to 5-2.

Mares got out of a jam in the top of the fifth as the Gauchos leadoff batter advanced to third base with just one out. A swinging strikeout and fielder’s choice left two Santa Barbara runners on base, and maintained the Cougars’ 5-3 lead.

BYU tacked on three more in the bottom of the sixth, as Kamoku drew a full count leadoff walk. With Taryn Lennon pinch running for her, Lauren Flanders moved Lennon on a sacrifice bunt. Agbayani singled to put runners on the corners before stealing second.

From there, Bejarano poked a ball out to right that was caught on a diving grab by UCSB, but not before Lennon and Agbayani tagged up to score on a 2-RBI sacrifice fly. Zavodnik, the next batter up, sent a 2-1 pitch over the left field fence for a solo homer, her team-leading sixth of the season, to put the Cougars up 8-2.

The Gauchos got one run back with a two-out double and single, but Kate Dahle, who came on in relief for Mares in the sixth, shut the door with a come-backer groundout.

Up Next
After spending a month on the road to start the 2024 campaign, BYU will return home to host Texas Tech in its Big 12 opener at Gail Miller Field from March 7-9. All three games will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.