BYU Advances to Regional's Final Day
EUGENE, Ore. - A comeback attempt against No. 11 Oregon came up short for the BYU softball team but the Cougars bounced back to defeat Portland State and set up a rematch in the championship game of the Regional.
BYU (45-14) lost 6-4 to the Ducks but beat Portland State 2-0 in the second game of the day. The Cougars will play Oregon starting Saturday at 12 p.m. PT and will have to beat the Ducks twice in order to advance to the Super Regional.
After scoring a run on an infield single, Oregon went up 5-0 on a grand slam by Christie Nieto in the third inning to put BYU in an early hole in the Cougars' opening game.
But BYU didn't go down without a fight despite the big deficit and the loss of WAC Player of the Year Delaney Willard, out with a hand injury suffered against Mississippi State on Thursday.
With runners on second and third in the top of the very next inning, senior Stacie Toney hit an RBI single that resulted in two runs when the throw to the first baseman went wide, enabling both Tiffany Messerschmidt and Katie Manuma to score.
After Oregon scratched a single run across to go up 6-2, BYU came out and loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth with a leadoff walk by Ashlee Brawley and singles from Shelbi Everett and Jessica Dugas.
Messerschmidt and Manuma both drew bases loaded walks to bring two across, but BYU couldn't get a hit when it needed to, coming out of the inning with just the two runs scored.
Caroline Umphlett and Tori Almond each threw one scoreless inning in relief of starter Hannah Howell, but Oregon starter Jessica Moore and her 10-strikeout effort held off the Cougars.
Behind a strong outing by Tori Almond, BYU advanced to the Regional championship with a 2-0 win over Portland State.
Almond threw the complete game shutout by allowing only two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Almond a Pacific All-Region Second Team selection, is 20-3 now this year, becoming the fifth Cougar pitcher to win 20 games in a season and joining Hannah Howell as the first BYU pitching tandem to both win 20 games in the same season.
Dugas went 2 for 3 with a double, a run and an RBI for the Cougars. Toney had a hit and brought in BYU's other run.
With runners on second and third, Toney hit a grounder past the pitcher Anna Bertrand into no-man's land, bringing in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first.
BYU added an insurance run in the fifth when Dugas laced a hit past the Viking third baseman who couldn't her glove down fast enough to stop the grounder. Carly Duckworth scored on the play.
BYU will play in the final day of a Regional for the third-straight season. The Cougars won out in 2010 to move on to the Super Regional but lost to Washington last season in the Saturday matchup.
BYU softball was picked tied for first in conference as voted on by the West Coast Conference coaches, the league…