PROVO, Utah – McKenzie St. Clair's two-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded helped BYU softball defeat St. Mary’s 3-0 and sweep the series on senior day.
"It was nice to be able to finish out the season with the sweep today," BYU softball coach Gordon Eakin. "I'm grateful to the seniors on this team for representing BYU the way they have and the way they do, and finishing the regular season strong. We know we can compete with anybody and the way we finished out and the roll that we're on is important for us to be successfull in the postseason."
BYU (33-21, 12-2 WCC) is riding a 15-game winning streak heading into the NCAA tournament for the 10th consecutive year. Freshmen Lauren Bell and McKenzie St. Clair each finished the day 2-for-3 and Bell's last hit put the winning run on base. Tori Almond pitched all seven innings, allowed three hits and no runs, while striking out seven.
After keeping the Gaels (23-27, 8-7 WCC) scoreless in the top of the first, Lauren Bell singled to left field to start the bottom of the frame. Mercedes O’Connor’s hit into a fielder's choice and stole second, but Katie Manuma grounded out to short to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Ashley Thompson’s walk was followed by St. Clair’s double to right field, but Thompson was thrown out at the plate. The Cougars were unable to bring in St. Clair from third and the game remained scoreless.
In the bottom of the third, Ashlee Robinson singled to the shortstop with Sydney Broderick reached first on a fielder’s choice on the next hit. Broderick advanced to second after Bell grounded out to second base, but the Gaels once again got out of the jam to keep the game tied.
Almond struck out five of the next six Saint Mary's batters to reach her total of seven after the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bell singled to the pitcher and Lacey Millett Hofstedt came in to pinch run for Bell. Hofstedt advanced to second after O’Connor was hit by the pitch and . With the bases loaded after Manuma’s walk, St. Clair singled to right center and advanced to second on the throw to bring Hofstedt and O’Connor home for the 2-0 lead. Senior Carly Duckworth singled up the middle to score Manuma and give the Cougars a 3-0 lead heading into the final inning.
Following their conference title, the Cougars will enter the NCAA Regionals on May 15-17. The NCAA Selection Show will be on Sunday 10 p.m. EST on ESPNU.