PROVO, Utah—Behind the bat of Alexa Strid, BYU softball took one of two games in its West Coast Conference doubleheader against Loyola Marymount Friday at Gail Miller Field.
Strid went 3 for 4 with three walks, a home run, a double and three RBI in both games for the Cougars. Ashley Thompson added her sixth home run of the season and two RBI and McKenzie St. Clair had 3 RBI and a home run. McKenna Bull pitched 8.2 innings over the two games with nine strikeouts and only gave up one walk and three hits.
"I thought we played well in the first game," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "The second game was hard. It's hard to give up nine walks and except to win. We need a better effort from the circle and to let our defense help. We need to make some adjustments and come out tomorrow, but our pitching needs to be better."
BYU (22-16, 1-1 WCC) had 13 hits on the day compared to LMU’s 11. Despite a 4-0 shutout in the first game from Bull, the Cougars gave up nine runs to the Lions (23-17, 1-1 WCC) in the 9-4 loss in the second game.
The Cougars won the first game of the doubleheader 4-0 behind home runs from Strid and St. Clair. The win was BYU’s first in WCC play this year. Bull led the Cougars from the circle with six strikeouts and no walks in the shutout, which is her sixth of the season.
Both teams were quiet throughout the first inning, but BYU got things going in the second. Coco Taulil’i Bond and Strid both walked to put St. Clair up at bat. She homered to left field to put the Cougars up 3-0. The home run was St. Clair’s fifth of the year.
Bull had three straight three up, three down innings, which included a diving catch from Caitlyn Larsen in foul territory to get the last out in the third inning. Her no-hitter ended in the fourth inning when the Lions’ Meghan Von Behren hit a single up the middle. BYU’s lead was threatened when LMU’s Stephanie Crist hit a double to move Von Behren to third, but Bull came up with a big strikeout to get out of the jam.
Strid gave the Cougars a bigger cushion when she hit a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the fourth, her third of the season. Larsen singled in an attempt to get another offensive effort going, but LMU’s Hannah Bandimere fanned Bond and Libby Sugg to get out of the inning.
Bull got nine straight outs over the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to earn the win for the Cougars, including four strikeouts.
The Cougars had five hits compared to the Lions’ two. BYU also had zero errors in the win.
The Cougars had a rough start in the rematch against the Lions, which led to a 9-4 loss. Olivia Sanchez gave up a pair of two-run home runs in the first inning, giving LMU an early 4-0 advantage. Larsen got Sanchez out of the inning by making a catch on the fly in foul territory against the wall.
The Lions threatened with another offensive attack early in the second. Arianna Paulson came in for Sanchez and got a lineout and a strikeout to end the inning. LMU scored another run in the third inning, giving them a 5-0 lead. After hitting a ball to left field, the runner turned the corner and sprinted to second base to get the double. Strid sent a line drive double down the third base line to bring Madison Merrell home from second. Larsen was hit by a pitch at the next at bat, and Bond hit a line drive to shortstop to advance Strid to third. St. Clair sent a looper to shallow left, but the Lions’ second baseman was able to make the over-the-shoulder catch to end the Cougars’ offensive efforts.
LMU scored three runs on four hits in the fifth, but a two-run home run by Thompson in the bottom of the fifth closed the gap for the Cougars. Sugg added a deep double to the left field wall, and Strid placed a shallow ball between the mound and second to bring Sugg in from second base. Larsen singled to left field, but Bond grounded out to second to end the three-run inning for the Cougars.
In the sixth inning, Paulson walked two batters before Bull came back in to pitch the remainder of the game. An error from the Cougars allowed a run to score, putting the Cougars behind 9-4.
Bull struck out two batters in the top of the seventh, but the Cougars couldn’t get anything going offensively in the bottom of the inning, dropping the game 9-4. Strid went 2-for-2 during the game with two RBI and two walks.
The Cougars wrap up their series with the Lions tomorrow, April 9, at 12:30 p.m. MDT. The game can be viewed on TheW.tv and live stats can be found on the BYU softball schedule page.