Ari Davis | Posted: 8 Apr 2020 | Updated: 4 Jan 2021

2020 Softball season review

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BYU softball team 2020

PROVO, Utah – After a strong opening to the 2020 campaign, BYU softball’s 2020 season was cut short after just 23 games due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Cougars had just traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on two top-10 teams, No. 10 Alabama and No. 3 Texas, in their final road series before their home opener. On March 12, concerns about coronavirus led to the cancelation of the tournament, sending BYU home. Later in the day, the NCAA announced the cancelation of all its remaining championships and BYU and other programs across the country suspended all athletic events. The Cougars closed the season with a 14-9 record.

"Having the season cut short was disappointing but it was the right thing to do," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "Our team is filled with selfless individuals and that is where our strength lies. We are actively helping and doing our part any way we can. I am optimistic and excited for the future."

BYU started the year with six-straight road tournaments traveling across the country as well as to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

In their first tournament in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, the Cougars took back-to-back wins to open the season on Feb. 6. A walk-off single from freshman Huntyr Ava gave BYU a 1-0 win followed by a 6-1 win over Nevada. BYU then held now-No. 9 Oregon and now-No. 4 Oklahoma to only three runs in two 3-1 losses.

BYU’s high point of the short season started at the Mary Nutter Classic coming away with a 4-1 record with two wins against Power-5 schools. Those wins included a 4-1 win against Nebraska and a 6-2 win against Mississippi State.

The two Power-5 wins catapulted a six-game win streak for BYU that led into the Judi Garman Classic. In the first game in Fullerton, California, the Cougars took down Cal Poly in a 9-1 five-inning win, followed by a 7-6 win against Illinois immediately after. Against the Fighting Illini, senior Rylee Jensen-McFarland went a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs, a triple and a home run while Ava recorded her first BYU multi-homer game sending two balls over the fence.

The following day, BYU took down now-No. 19 Texas Tech in a 7-5 victory, as Jensen-McFarland and Ava again hit balls out of the park. Jensen-McFarland continued her home run streak against Boise State with her third consecutive game with a dinger.

However, the Cougars’ win streak came to an end with a 5-1 loss to Boise State, but BYU closed out the tournament with a 10-3 win over Cal as Ava and Martha Epenesa smashed homers.

Following the Judi Garman Classic, BYU ranked No. 2 nationally in home runs over that weekend with a team total of 12 as Ava led the team with five.  

In its final tournament of the season, BYU dropped three of four at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno, California.

Although BYU did not play any West Coast Conference games, at the beginning of the season the Cougars were picked unanimously to win the WCC Conference title for the seventh-consecutive season. Jensen-McFarland, Arissa Paulson, Autumn Moffat, Marissa Chavez and Taylei Williams were also selected to the Pre-Season All-WCC First Team.

Outfielder Rylee Jensen-McFarland

In her senior campaign, Jensen-McFarland had set her expectations high, chasing an All-American honor and was on track when her season was cut short. Jensen-McFarland started every game as BYU’s leadoff hitter, splitting her time between left and center field duties. At the conclusion of the 23-game season, Jensen-McFarland led the team in nearly every category including batting average (.441), runs (24), hits (30), doubles (5), triples (2), slugging percentage (.838), walks (11), on-base percentage (.518). She also finished the season ranked among active career leaders nationally at No. 3 in runs scored (167), No. 24 in hits (205) and batting average (.360), No. 25 in walks (89) and total bases (25), No. 34 in at bats (569), No. 41 in doubles (38) and No. 50 in homers (30).

Rylee Jensen-McFarland 2020 Overview

  • WCC Pre-Season First Team
  • Two-time WCC Player of the Week
  • NFCA National Player of the Week
  • In BYU's all-time career records ranked No. 4 in on-base percentage (.453), No. 5 in runs (167), No. 7 in batting average (.361), No. 8 in doubles (38), No. 9 in slugging percentage (.604), walks (89) and hit by pitch (11), No. 11 in hits (205) and total bases (343), No. 12 in triples (5), No. 13 in homers (30) and No. 14 in stolen bases (25)
  • Nationally ranked at No. 9 in sac flies (9), No. 30 in slugging percentage (.838), No. 43 in total bases (57), No. 46 in runs per game (1.04) and No. 53 in batting average (.441) at the end of the season
  • Ranked No. 1 in batting average (.441) and on-base percentage and No. 3 in slugging percentage (.839) among all seniors in BYU program history before the season was suspended after 23 games
  • Concluded season on a 14 hit and on-base streak
  • At the Judi Garman Classic, batted .684 (9-for-14) with eight RBI and seven runs scored, with a double, a triple, three homers and slugging 1.500 with a .684 on-base percentage

First Baseman Huntyr Ava

In her freshman campaign, Ava made her name known as a contender, playing in all 23 games, starting 22, in what could have been a freshman season with several newcomer or freshman honors. In the only game Ava did not start, the freshman came in as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the six and hit a 3-run shot for her first collegiate home run during her only at bat in the game against Nevada. Although her freshman season was cut short, among freshman in the nation Ava ranked No. 3 in RBI per game (1.22), No. 4 in homers (8), No. 5 in RBI (28), No. 13 in total bases. Despite only playing 23-games, her eight homers ranked at No. 5 among all freshmen in BYU history.

Huntyr Ava 2020 Overview

  • Led the team in at bats (71), homers (8), RBI (28) and fielding percentage (.994 - 172 putouts)
  • Recorded a 10-game hitting streak as well as a 12-game on-base streak during the season
  • Recorded first career hit during first at bat in collegiate debut against George Washington (2/6)
  • Hit a walk-off single against George Washington to give BYU a 1-0 win 
  • First collegiate home run was a pinch-hit three-run shot against Nevada (2/6)
  • Had first multi-homer game against Illinois lifting BYU to a 7-6 win (2/27)
  • On first day of Judi Garman Classic, went 2-for-3 in back-to-back games recording three runs, three homers and five RBI
  • Blasted five homers at the Judi Garman Classic ranking No. 8 in the nation that weekend with eight total dingers in the season

Starting Pitcher Autumn Moffat

At the conclusion of the season, Autumn Moffat had solidified her position in the starting rotation, finishing with the lowest ERA on BYU’s pitching staff at 1.80 through 12 games. She began the climb in the BYU career records finishing the season at No. 6 in walks per seven innings (2.25), No. 10 in appearances (77), No. 11 in starts (48), complete games (24), finishes (22), No. 12 in ERA (2.70), opponent batting average (.257), strikeouts per seven innings (4.64), wins (29), innings pitched (311.0) and strikeouts (206).

Autumn Moffat 2020 Overview

  • Pre-Season All-WCC First Team
  • Pitched 12 games including starting 11 with seven complete games, two shutouts and one save before the season was suspended after only 23 games
  • Ranked No. 3 with a 1.80 ERA among all juniors in BYU history before the season was suspended after 23 games
  • Started the first game of the season pitching a seven-inning shutout allowing only two hits while striking out four batters for first win of the season
  • Pitched a complete game against No. 3 Oklahoma surrendering only two earned runs and one walk (2/8)
  • Struck out a season-high seven batters in a seven-inning complete game earning the win against Mississippi State (2/22)
  • Threw a four innings of no-hit ball against Cal Poly, striking out four batters (2/27)