BYU softball: Cougars slated to play five games at Mary Nutter Classic

By Jamie Morris

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20 2013 7:08 p.m. MST

PROVO, Utah — The BYU softball team will travel to Palm Springs, Calif., to play No. 10 LSU and Oklahoma State on Thursday, UNLV on Friday, and Northwestern and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday in the Big League Dreams Complex at the Mary Nutter Classic.

The Cougars played in their last Mary Nutter Classic in 2012 and lost three of their five games to three ranked teams in No. 21 Oklahoma State, No. 1 Florida and No. 14 Texas A&M.

BYU is currently 4-6 on the season and recently beat No. 20 Hawai’i in its first game of the Easton Desert Classic. BYU’s defense turned three double plays in the tournament, including two against No. 20 Hawai’i.

Junior Katie Manuma was named the College Madness PCSC Player of the Week for hitting .400 with six RBIs in the Easton Desert Classic.

JC Clayton is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and has gotten a hit in every game but one. Her career record is 15 games.

Head coach Gordon Eakin is in his 11th season with BYU and has a record of 420-181 (.704). He is currently No. 18 on the list of Division I active college softball coaches in win percentage.

Opponent notes

No. 10 LSU

This will be the first time the Cougars will face LSU in BYU history. The No. 10-ranked Tigers have a record of 10-1 this season, losing only to No. 22 North Carolina — a team LSU had previously beat to start the season. With a team batting average of .289, the Tigers have blasted 25 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs, and have scored 55 runs compared to 13 from its opponents. They are led by Bianka Bell who is currently hitting a .407 clip with two home runs and six RBIs on the season. At the mound, LSU is led by senior Rachel Fico who has an ERA of 0.38 to go along with her six wins and 51 strikeouts. The Tigers have played 10 of their 11 games at home as they hosted two tournaments to start the season, with the only away game being against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

Oklahoma State

The Cowgirls are led by junior catcher Tarah Ettinger who has pushed in six runs on a .444 batting average so far this season. Oklahoma State has scored 26 runs this year, but has also held its opponents to only 17 runs. All four of the Cowgirl’s losses this season came by less than two runs, and two of them were lost in extra innings to Iowa and Dayton at the Lovelace Invitational last weekend. Ace Simone Freemane is 4-2 for Oklahoma State and has only given away a total of nine earned runs in her six appearances for the Cowgirls. BYU and Oklahoma State remain even at three wins apiece in the overall series record and will each look to grab the go-ahead win on Friday.

UNLV

BYU has an all-time record of 34-12 against UNLV, but hasn’t faced the Runnin’ Rebels since leaving the Mountain West Conference in 2011. BYU won the last game between the two teams with its biggest win to date against UNLV, scoring 16 runs and holding them to only two hits on April 29, 2011. The Runnin’ Rebels sit at an even 5-5 this season and are led by .423 batter Stefany Valentino who adds two doubles, one home run and eight RBIs to her season statistics. UNLV has five pitchers who have made an appearance this season but are led by veteran Amanda Oliveto who has all five wins along with 31 strikeouts and 42.2 innings pitched.

Northwestern

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