Offense stagnant as No. 20 BYU splits doubleheader
MORAGA, Calif. – The offense struggled as No. 20 BYU softball split the doubleheader at Saint Mary’s on Saturday to wrap up West Coast Conference play, dropping the first game 1-0 and taking the second game 4-1.
BYU (44-11, 14-1 WCC) finishes with the best conference record in program history. The Cougars, who clinched the WCC title last weekend at Santa Clara, have never lost just one game in conference play prior to this year. Saint Mary’s (17-31, 3-12 WCC) earned one of its best wins in program history by upsetting BYU and snapping the 22-game win streak in the first game of the doubleheader.
BYU’s 22-game win streak came to an end in the first game of the doubleheader. McKenna Bull pitched the complete game and threw 10 strikeouts, her fifth game this year tossing double-digit Ks.
The first four innings were scoreless for both teams, with each leaving three on base. Only two hits were tallied in that span, both coming from BYU.
The Gaels finally got a hit on the board in the bottom of the fifth to start off the frame, but Bull struck out three in a row to stop the potential rally and keep it square at 0-0.
Lauren Bell led off the top of the six with a single in shallow left center to spark some life into the offense. Libby Sugg followed that up a two at bats later with a line-drive single to the same spot. However, the Saint Mary’s pitcher Katie Moss struck out two to end the side.
In the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second and two outs, Nikki Alexander hit a walk-off single to right field, allowing Cara DiMercurio to reach home for the lone run of the game.
Behind big performances from Jensen and Alexa Strid, BYU took the second game 4-1. Jensen went 3 for 3 with two runs, her second game in her career with perfect hitting. Strid went 3 for 4 with two RBI in the win. Arissa Paulson pitched the 6.0 innings, throwing four strikeouts.
The Cougars bounced back in the second game, immediately getting to work. In the top of the first, Strid hit an RBI double to left center, scoring Jensen for the first run of the day. BYU led 1-0 after the first inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Gaels tied up the game. A groundout to second base gave the runner on third time to reach home, making it 1-1 heading into the fifth.
Saint Mary’s threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. The Gaels got runners on first and third with two outs on the board, but Strid handled a well-hit ball to get the third out and keep it tied.
The offense came alive in the top of the seventh. Caitlyn Larsen Alldredge started the rally with a bunt and was able to get to second due to an error. After Jensen was walked, Bell came up to bat. She knocked a triple down the right-field line to bring home both Alldredge and Jensen. Strid followed that up with a single that dropped right in the middle of the field, scoring Bell. BYU led 4-1 going into the final frame.
The Gaels got runners in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, but Bull came in to relieve Paulson, earning three-straight outs to seal the win.
The Cougars will find out where they will be playing in the 2017 NCAA Regionals next week during the Selection Show on Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT. It will be televised live on ESPN2.