“It’s always nice to win,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “We had to battle and tough it out in the first game, but in the second game we came alive with the bats and played really well.”
BYU (32-18, 9-2 WCC) picked up two more West Coast Conference wins to secure its first place standing while Santa Clara fell to 3-8 in the WCC with an 8-39 overall record.
In the circle for the Cougars, McKenna Bull broke her own BYU single season strikeouts record with a 12-strikeout performance to bring her season total to 259 while earning her 24th victory of the year.
Entering tonight’s games, Sugg was ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA for home runs and home runs per game. Sugg homered in both games to extend her season total to seventeen. Thompson also had a big night, hitting home runs in both games as well while adding four hits and batting in six runs for the Cougars.
A home run by Thompson and a record-breaking performance by pitcher Bull helped BYU softball defeat Santa Clara 4-3 in game one.
Bull recorded 12 strikeouts in seven innings of work and the Cougar defense delivered an error-free game to back up her pitching performance. Bull’s last outing of 10 or more strikeouts came earlier this season against Saint Mary’s. Alexa Strid led the offensive effort for the Cougars, going 2 for 3 with an RBI.
With the game tied 3-3 in the sixth, Thompson hit a home run to give BYU the go-ahead run. The round-tripper was Thompson’s 12th of the season.
Later in the bottom half of the sixth, with a runner on third and the Broncos threatening to tie the score again, Bull struck out France to break her own record of 256 strikeouts in a season, the most by any BYU pitcher.
The Cougars began the scoring early in the game. In the first inning, senior Gordy Bravo hit a lead-off single and stole second to move into scoring position. Freshman catcher Sugg stepped up to the plate and launched a deep fly ball “no-doubter” over the left field wall for her 16th homer of the season, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
The next BYU slugger, Strid, hit a home run on the next pitch over the left field again and the Cougars led 3-0. BYU last hit back-to-back home runs came against Mount St. Mary’s earlier this season.
After scoreless innings in the second and third, the Broncos mounted a comeback in the top of the fourth. SCU’s Amanda Delfino walked and advanced to third on a single by Chiara Biagini, who advanced to second on the throw from the outfield to third. Santa Clara executed a sacrifice squeeze to push across the first run of the game, making the score 3-1 in favor of BYU.
Bull plunked the next SCU batter, Kelsie Barnard, loading the bases for the Broncos. Santa Clara scored its second run of the inning after Sugg’s pickoff attempt to third bounced wide into left field, allowing SCU’s Biagini to score and cutting the Cougars’ lead to one.
Bull walked Geenamire Bonilla, and with the bases loaded, Morgan Modesto singled to right field to score Padilla for the tying run. SCU’s Yates attempted to score from second but Strid made the throw home from right field to put her out at the plate and the inning ended with the teams tied at 3 all.
The Broncos managed to put three separate runners on base in the seventh, but the Cougars held on to win the first game 4-3.
Thompson’s three hits and 5 RBI powered BYU to a 15-4 mercy-rule win after five innings in the second game evening. BYU’s last run-rule victory came earlier this season against Saint Mary’s.
The Cougars had 13 hits off 29 at bats and pitcher Olivia Sanchez earned the win while only allowing two hits on the evening.
Santa Clara started off the second game with a strong offensive effort. After Ellie Fisher singled in the first at bat of the game, Delfino tripled to left field to put Santa Clara in front 1-0. With runners on the corners and one out, Emilee Erickson made a diving catch at second base before doubling up the runner at first to get the Cougars out of the inning.
The Cougars responded in the bottom half of the inning with singles from Bravo and Bell. With one out, Sugg knocked another deep ball over the left field fence, her second home run of the evening, to put BYU up 3-1.
In the top of the second, the Broncos put two runners on before Bonilla knocked a ball over the left field wall for a three-run home run. Bull left the game and Sanchez took over in relief for the Cougars.
In the bottom of the second, Bell reached on an error and scored the tying run after Thompson doubled. Sugg walked and Thompson stole third. Strid then knocked a single to left field to score Thompson for the go-ahead run and BYU took a 5-4 lead.
In the third, the Cougars loaded the bases with no outs before Bravo singled to left, scoring Erickson. Bell followed with a single up the middle to score Lexi Tarrow and Coco Tauali'i Bond, forcing a Santa Clara pitching change.
While the pitcher changed, the Cougars hitting did not. A single up the middle by Thompson scored Bravo for the Cougars’ fourth run of the inning.
Strid reached on a fielder’s choice to score Bell for the fifth and final run of the inning and BYU took a 10-4 lead.
Leading off in the fourth, Erickson drove a line drive over the left field wall to extend the Cougars lead to seven. With two runners on base, Bell hit a line drive over the center fielder’s head to score Tarrow. Thompson stepped up to the plate next and drilled a no-doubter over the left field wall for a three-run home run. BYU finished the inning with a 15-4 lead, which would stand after Santa Clara's final at bat in the top of the fifth.
The Cougars will attempt to finish the sweep against the Broncos on Saturday at 12 p.m. MDT at Gail Miller Field. The game will be live on BYUtv and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143. Live stats will also be available on the BYU schedule page.