EUGENE, Ore. — No. 3 Oregon used a three-run home run in the bottom of the first to defeat BYU 5-2 in the Eugene Regional opener on Thursday night.
With the win, Oregon improved to 47-9 on the season, while BYU fell to 33-24. Carly Duckworth highlighted the game offensively with two hits and two RBIs for the Cougars. Hannah Howell relieved Tori Almond in the first inning. Almond received the loss as Howell pitched six innings and gave up just one earned run on three hits.
"It’s a disappointment to lose," head coach Gordon Eakin said. "I thought our kids battled really hard with some adversity and I was proud of them for the way they fought against a very good team. Carly filled the lead-off role very well and did a very nice job for us. Gordy also did a nice job as a freshman and got the job done. With the adversity we faced, I was proud of how we hung around and made it a game."
Duckworth led off for BYU with a first-pitch single to right field in the first, but Oregon answered with three straight outs.
Oregon’s first runner drew the walk to start the inning and moved all the way to third after two called illegal pitches on Almond. The following batter walked, thanks to the two illegal-pitch calls, to place runners on the corners with no outs. Almond paid for the two free passes on a home run from Oregon’s Alexa Peterson to give the Ducks a quick 3-0 advantage.
After going down 2-0 to the next batter, Almond was replaced by Hannah Howell. Howell was able to get out of the jam to send BYU into the second.
To start the second, Alexandra Hudson Shamo threaded a single up the middle. With one out, Coco Taualii drew the walk to place runners on first and second, and then Mylee Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases for BYU. Duckworth battled Oregon’s pitcher to a 3-2 count and then hit a bouncing single up the middle to bring in two runs for the Cougars.
Oregon threatened to score in the bottom of the frame with runners on second and third, but Howell got the Duck batter to look at strike three, leaving two on base to hold the score at 3-2.
Shamo highlighted the bottom of the third inning with a diving play in center field to send BYU to the fourth, still down 3-2.
The Ducks placed runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a walk and Cougar error. They were able to bring one in on a sacrifice fly to bump their lead to 4-2. A bases-loaded walk brought in another run for Oregon in the bottom of the fifth, but Howell answered with a strikeout and forced a ground out to close out the inning.
Oregon’s lead-off batter grabbed an infield single to start the bottom of the sixth, but BYU’s defense responded with a 1-6-3 double play to clear the bases. Duckworth snatched a line out one batter later to close out the inning.
BYU had the beginning of its order up to start the seventh and needed three runs to send the game to the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Gordy Bravo had an infield single to keep the team alive, but a strikeout sealed the 5-2 victory for Oregon.
BYU plays Friday at 3 p.m. MDT in an elimination game against Wisconsin. The winner will advance to play at 6 p.m.
Jamie Morris is the softball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.