SAN DIEGO – BYU softball capped off the West Coast Conference season with a doubleheader split at San Diego on Saturday, dropping the first 5-2 and winning the second 9-3 to take the series.
"Today was a mixed bag of effort and results," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "After clinching the conference championship last night in a hard-fought 12-inning game, we came out a little flat today. However, we got it going in the second game and finished on a strong note. Our bats came alive and we got a solid effort from Arianna Paulson in the circle."
BYU (35-19, 12-3 WCC) won the series 2-1 at San Diego (22-29, 8-7), out-hitting its opponent 10 to 4 in the second game. The Toreros committed five errors in their loss.
Sophomore pitcher Arianna Paulson shone in her first start of the season, throwing a career-high seven strikeouts. She pitched her first seven-inning complete game in her career.
From the plate, it was a balanced effort with six players notching at least one RBI on the day.
BYU dropped the first game of the doubleheader 5-2. Olivia Sanchez pitched a complete game from the circle, and Ashley Thompson led the team from the plate, going 2 for 4 with two RBI for the Cougars’ only runs in the game.
The Cougars got off to a rough start in the first game, going three up, three down. However, BYU returned the favor, retiring San Diego in order as well.
In the top of the second, singles from Libby Sugg and Alexa Strid got the bats going. A sacrifice bunt from Emilee Erickson advanced them to scoring position, but they were unable to score. The Toreros also left two stranded in the inning, keeping the game scoreless.
San Diego’s bats came alive in the bottom of the third, scoring four runs off of five hits and one BYU error. The Cougars trailed 4-0 going into the fourth inning.
BYU got on the board in the top of the fifth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Thompson drilled a double off the fence in left center to bring both runs in. Those runs cut into the deficit, making San Diego’s lead 4-2.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars allowed another run to come in for the Toreros on a single, making the score 5-2 in favor of San Diego.
Despite getting two on base in the top of the seventh, BYU was unable to rally, falling 5-2.
BYU took the final game 9-3 to win the weekend series. In the victory, five different players had one RBI in a balanced win from the plate.
Sophomore pitcher Paulson started her first game of the season, earning her second win this year. Paulson earned career highs in strikeouts and innings pitched with seven for both. In left field, freshman Allie Hancock started her second game this year, notching her first career hit and RBI in the win.
The Toreros scored three runs in the bottom of the second after a pair of walks loaded the bases. A single brought in two runs to cap off their run, taking a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the third, the Cougars responded with some runs of their own. After a double from Coco Tauali’i Bond, Hancock reached first off of an error that gave Bond enough time to reach home. A sacrifice bunt from Bravo put Hancock on second, who then scored on a double from Lauren Bell.
The third run came off Thompson's single to tie the game 3-3 after Bell scored.
An infield hit from Bond in the top of the fourth brought in Strid, who slid past the catcher for the 4-3 lead. The Cougars were unable to put any more runs on the board in the inning, leaving two stranded.
The top of the fifth saw more runs pour in for BYU. Thompson reached home on a double from Sugg to left center, and Sugg scored after an infield hit from Madison Merrell. Two more runners scored after the Toreros' pitcher overthrew first for an error. The fifth run of the inning reached home after Hancock singled right over the shortstop’s reach, extending BYU’s lead to 9-3 over San Diego.
Facing loaded bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars closed the inning with a 1-2-3 double-play and the eventual final tally.
BYU will represent the WCC in the NCAA tournament next week. The 2016 NCAA Division I Softball Championship bracket will be announced Sunday, May 15, 2016 on ESPNU at 8 p.m. MDT.