SALT LAKE CITY – Tori Almond passed Christina Gwyn Trice for third place in career strikeouts, but Utah took a 1-0 victory over BYU softball in nine innings.
“It was a great game that was well pitched by both pitchers,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “Tori threw an incredible game and as good as she has in a long time. Utah deserves credit; they pulled it out in the end.”
Almond struck out seven to give her 428 total career strikeouts, but did not have the run support she needed to get the victory over the Utes (11-9). BYU (10-18) had singles from Coco Tauali’i, Katie Manuma and Ashlee Robinson. Ashley Thompson went 1-for-4 with a double.
“We hit the ball hard, it was just right at them (Utah),” Eakin said. “I’m proud of our kids, they played well."
Utah put runners on first and second to lead off the bottom of the first, but Almond stuck out one and Robinson caught a line drive and threw to second for the inning-ending double play.
Manuma singled to right and Carly Duckworth walked to put runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the second. Robinson hit a blooper to center, but a sliding catch by Utah center fielder Chalese Hadley stranded the runners.
In the top of the third, Tauali’i singled up the middle to get on with one out, but a fly out and a diving catch in center kept the game scoreless. The Utes got two-out bunt single in the bottom of the third, but the runner left early to end the inning.
Neither team could get a base runner in the fourth and the fifth innings. In the top of the sixth, Thompson doubled to the fence in left center with two outs, but McKenzie St. Clair grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning. Utah answered with a lead-off walk in the bottom of the sixth and a sacrifice bunt to move a runner into scoring position. Almond struck out the next batter and a fly ball to center field ended the scoring threat.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Duckworth drew a walk and Robinson singled through the left side, but the Cougars were unable to bring in a run to keep the game scoreless. Almond set down the side in order to send the game to extra innings.
Gordy Bravo walked to put a runner on in top of the eighth, but Thompson’s drive to the warning track was caught and a grounder to short left ended the frame. Almond struck out two and a pop up in foul territory to Robinson retired the side in the bottom of the frame.
Utah doubled down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the ninth to put the winning run in scoring position. Kate Dickman then hit the walk-off double to center field to end the game.
BYU will host Oregon in its home opener Tuesday at 6 p.m. MDT at Gail Miller Field. The game can be streamed live from theW.tv.