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BYU softball: Cougars look to hit the ground running in 2014

By Spencer Shamo

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21 2014 2:20 p.m. MST

“Coco and senior Ashlee Robinson will play second base,” Eakin said. “Both players have versatile roles within the team. When Katie Manuma goes in to pitch, Ashlee will move to third base where she started as a sophomore. Tauali’i can play shortstop, second base and is a very good outfielder. Both players provide us flexibility in making our line up strong. Tauali’i provided a strong bat offensively this fall.”

Eakin also discussed a freshman who will play shortstop.

“Freshman Lauren Bell will play shortstop and has performed extremely well both offensively and defensively through the fall practice season,” he said.

Bell comes to BYU out of Murray High School as a dangerous slap hitter. She will have a tough task to fill the hole left by four-year starter JC Clayton.

“Senior Jenna Goar, junior Megan Arnold and freshman Ashley Thompson will play first base. Thompson will also pitch,” Eakin said.

All three players bring power to the plate. Goar has proven to be one of the Cougars’ most effective pinch hitters in her three years at BYU. Arnold has played in much of the same role for BYU hitting four home runs, including one grand slam, in limited plate appearances. Thompson comes to BYU as Washington’s career leader in home runs.

Outfield

“The outfield will be anchored by sophomore All-American Gordy Bravo,” Eakin said. “She will be joined by the strong and athletic core of senior Carly Duckworth, sophomore Coco Tauali’i, junior Lacey Millett-Hofstedt and freshman Mckenzie St. Clair.”

Bravo returns as the team’s leading hitter from 2013. In the history of BYU freshmen, she ranked top five in batting average, hits, RBIs and on-base percentage. Duckworth has been solid for the Cougars batting .268 for her career, and Millett-Hofstedt enters the year only four stolen bases behind the career record at BYU. Last year Millett-Hofstedt set the single season stolen base record with 25.

The schedule

BYU will face some big names this season including preseason No. 1 Tennessee along with No. 3 Washington, No. 8 Oregon and No. 22 Stanford. The Cougars will play this season in the West Coast Conference along with four of their foes from the Pacific Coast Softball Conference and Pacific in the sport’s first year in the WCC. The schedule includes games against 12 teams that advanced to the 2013 NCAA regionals and 19 teams that finished with winning records.

The Cougars will travel to six tournaments. They start play in St. George, Utah, taking part in the Red Desert Classic. The first game of the tournament will be Feb. 6, against in-state rival Weber State at 2 p.m. MST at the Canyons Complex.

Spencer Shamo is a Communications major at BYU and the BYU softball SID.

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