Cameron Muh | Posted: 21 May 2021 | Updated: 4 Aug 2021

BYU takes out No. 12/15 Arizona State to advance to the Tempe Regional Final

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Violet Zavodnik swings against Idaho State

Tempe, Ariz. – BYU softball avoided elimination in two-straight games at Farrington Stadium on Friday, beating Southern Illinois 7-2, and taking down No. 15 Arizona State in a thrilling 9-8 victory. 

With Arizona State ahead 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth, BYU began to chip away at the Sun Devils' lead. Two singles from Marissa Chavez and Alyssa Podhurcak got the Cougars in scoring position before a Kaylee Erickson double brought Chavez home and sent Taylei Williams, pinch-running for Podhurcak, to third. 

A fielder's choice from Erin Miklus put runners on the corners and Arizona State intentionally walked leadoff hitter Jensen to load the bases. A go-ahead single from Zavodnik brought Miklus and Erickson home to put BYU up 8-7. BYU tacked on one more as Huntyr Ava hit a single bringing Jensen home for a 9-7 advantage. 

In the top of the seventh, a leadoff dinger from the Sun Devils brought the game within one at 9-8. However, groundouts retired the next two batters before Arissa Paulson finished the game with a swinging strikeout to eliminate the host-team No. 12/15 Arizona State. 

“Going out there and playing to win is what we push as a program,” said BYU head coach Gordon Eakin. “I thought our kids did that all day long, we just took the game to the opponent and it was a lot of fun.”

Game One vs. Southern Illinois | BYU 7 - SIU 2

Game Highlights:

  • Violet Zavodnik's RBI double in the bottom of the first gave BYU an early 1-0 lead for the second game in a row
  • In the fourth inning, Zavodnik made a diving catch in center field and followed it up with a leadoff homer to right 
  • Martha Epenesa’s RBI double in the fifth inning gave the Cougars a 5-1 lead late

Player Highlights:

  • HannahJo Peterson: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI
  • Violet Zavodnik: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
  • Martha Epenesa: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • Autumn Moffat-Korth: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K

The Cougars struck first as HannahJo Peterson walked and Violet Zavodnik doubled off the center field wall to bring Peterson home, putting BYU up 1-0 after one. 

In the fourth inning, after an impressive defensive play in the field, Zavodnik launched a leadoff home run. The Cougars then got four straight hits from Huntyr Ava, Martha Epenesa, Marissa Chavez and Alyssa Podhurcak, scoring two more runs and forcing two pitching changes all with no outs to take a 4-0 lead. 

Southern Illinois got on board in the fifth inning, plating one run with two outs to cut the BYU lead to 4-1, but the Cougars answered back in their half of the inning. Peterson led off with a slap single, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zavodnik before coming home on an opposite-field Epenesa double to make it 5-1. 

With back-to-back singles and no outs in the sixth, the Salukis scored on a groundout and it was 5-2, BYU. The Cougars once again answered in the bottom half of the inning, plating two after an Erin Miklus single, Kaylee Erickson sacrifice bunt, an Emilee Erickson walk, a Rylee Jensen fielder’s choice and a Peterson triple down the right-field line to take a 7-2 lead into the seventh.

After Southern Illinois got runners on the corners with two outs, Autumn Moffat-Korth forced a groundout to close the game. Moffat-Korth pitched seven innings, giving up just six hits and two runs, while walking two and striking out eight.

Game Two vs. No. 15 Arizona State | BYU 9 - ASU 8

Game Highlights:

  • The Cougars scored in the first inning for the third game of the Tempe Regional. BYU took 1-0 leads into the second inning in both of its first two games of the NCAA Tournament, and a 2-0 lead in the matchup with the Sun Devils.
  • Rylee Jensen homered in the second inning, her 20th on the year
  • Huntyr Ava stole home in the fifth inning during a double-steal play

Player Highlights:

  • Rylee Jensen: 1-2, 3 R, 2 RBI
  • Violet Zavodnik: 3-4, 2 RBI
  • Huntyr Ava: 2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • Marissa Chavez: 2-3, 1 R
  • Kaylee Erickson: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI

BYU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. After Rylee Jensen led off with a walk, Huntyr Ava doubled down the left field line to score Jensen. Taryn Lennon pinch ran for Ava and came home on a Martha Epenesa single, scoring the Cougars’ second run.

Arizona State answered in the second inning, producing a run of their own after two-straight singles and an infield double play. BYU came back in their half of the second, scoring two runs after Erin Miklus singled into left field and Jensen knocked a homer over the right field wall to go ahead 4-1. 

In the third, the Sun Devils got two singles and a double down the left field line to score two runs and make it a 4-3 game.

Ava reached on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third and made it around to third on an Epenesa groundout and Marissa Chavez chop single that stayed fair. During Alyssa Podhurcak’s at-bat, the Cougars ran a delayed steal that ended with Chavez at second and Ava making it home to put BYU up 5-3. 

Arizona State loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning and took a 6-5 lead, scoring once on a sacrifice fly and twice on a passed ball. The Sun Devils added another run in the sixth on a solo home run to center field, going ahead 7-5. 

The Cougars then rallied in their half of the sixth inning and put up four runs to retake the lead at 9-7. A Kaylee Erickson double was sandwiched by singles from Chavez, Podhurcak, Violet Zavodnik and Ava, highlighting the four-run inning. 

The Sun Devils got a leadoff home run in the seventh to draw within one at 9-8, but Arissa Paulson got two groundouts and a strikeout to end the game.

Avoiding elimination in two-straight games, BYU now advances to the Tempe Regional Final and a rematch with No. 21 Virginia Tech on Saturday, May 22, at 4 p.m. MDT on ESPN3. 

The Hokies need to win once to advance to the Super Regional, while the Cougars would have to win twice. If a second game is necessary, it is scheduled to be played at 6:30 p.m. MDT, or 45 minutes following the first game.