PROVO, Utah — Senior pitcher Hannah Howell found her groove behind the mound, leading BYU to an 9-4 victory during game one and recording a perfect game during game two to preserve the 11-0 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions on Saturday.
Howell's five-inning perfect game was the second perfect-game in program history and first in eight years since Summer Tobias recorded the program's first perfect game in 2005 against Utah Valley.
"We had a good talk last night about what we play for and why we play," head coach Gordon Eakin said. "I think that discussion and what we found worked today because that's as much determination and as much heart as we've played with all year long. When we do that, we're a pretty good team."
BYU (19-22, 8-4 PCSC) evened the series 2-2 with LMU (27-20, 10-6 PCSC) after dropping the first two games Friday. The Cougars had just three hits against LMU's aces yesterday but slugged an amazing 26 hits in both games Saturday. Coco Tauali'i went 4-for-6 through two games to fuel the Cougars offense, while Gordy Bravo finished 3-for-4 on the day including an inside-the-park home run.
Leading 5-4 at the end of the fifth inning, BYU broke the game open and scored four consecutive runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat LMU for the first time this season and improve to 7-4 in conference play. JC Clayton was a perfect 3-for-3 in the game with one run scored. Coco Taualii had five of the team's eight RBIs, including a three-run shot in the bottom of the second.
To start things off in the top of the first, LMU hit a two-run homer taking an early 2-0 lead. That home run marked the third time in the last two days that LMU had taken the lead with a home run in the first inning.
In the bottom of the second, Taualii smacked her three-run homer over the left center field fence to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead. The hit was Taualii's first home run of her career and the 12th of the year for the team. The three-run shot also gave BYU its first lead in the series against LMU.
In the top of the third, Katie Manuma came to the pitchers mound to replace Tori Almond. On Manuma’s second pitch, LMU’s Meghan Harman hit a two-run homer over the center field fence, allowing the Lions to retake the lead at 4-3. Center fielder Alexandra Hudson Shamo prevented another LMU long ball in the inning after reaching the warning track and making a great catch to halt the Lion momentum.
To start the top of the fifth, Hannah Howell came to the mound for the Cougars. With the bases loaded, Howell struck out two LMU batters and forced a fly ball to prevent any more LMU runs. BYU’s Lacey Millett had a base hit up the middle in the bottom of the frame, sending Taualii in for another to extend BYU's lead to 5-4.
Two-straight singles from Clayton and Jenna Goar started the bottom of the sixth for BYU and then a walk to Bravo loaded the bases. Manuma took advantage and hit a single to left field sending pinch runner Bailie Hicken and Clayton home for two more runs for the 7-4 lead. With the bases loaded again in the inning, Madisen Robb smacked a long fly ball that landed just inside the center field fence to send Bravo in for another score. Taualii continued the run with a sac fly to center field for a career-high five RBIs in the game.
Howell sat down three-straight in the top of the seventh to earn the win and improve to 8-14 on the season. Howell gave up no runs on just two hits in her three innings pitched.
BYU ousted LMU 11-0 during game two, fueled by strong hitting and Howell's perfect game.
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