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BYU softball: Cougars take down No. 2 Tennessee

By Spencer Shamo

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 11:17 p.m. MST

Katie Manuma homered twice to hand No. 2 Tennessee its first loss of the season before San Diego State won, 2-0, in a pitcher’s duel in the night cap.

“It was a great effort today in both games,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “We played very well against Tennessee. We hung right in there and got a great win for our program. We played well against San Diego State, but their pitcher threw a heck of a game.“

Manuma went 2-for-4 against Tennessee (14-1) with two home runs and four RBIs. McKenzie St. Clair added a solo shot of her own in the first game, hitting .333 on the day. Ashley Thompson, McKenna Bull and Tori Almond (0-1) all had a hand in the win against Tennessee. Almond then pitched a complete game against San Diego State (11-6) allowing only two runs and striking out eight.

“I’m proud of our team and the way they competed today,” Eakin said. “We are moving in the right direction.”

Game one

Manuma got things started for the Cougars with a long home run over the left-center wall to give BYU a 3-0 lead. The Lady Volunteers answered in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run to pull within one at 3-2.

After a scoreless second, Tennessee doubled down the right-field line to lead off the bottom of the third. After the runner was moved over on a deep fly ball, Tennessee then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to the left-field wall.

Ashlee Robinson walked and Lacey Millett-Hofstedt singled on a bunt back to the pitcher to put runners on. Robinson then stole third and Millett-Hofstedt stole second to tie JC Clayton for the career steals record. Tennessee would get out of the bases loaded jam with a pop up to the shortstop, keeping the score at 3-3 heading to the bottom of the fourth.

Bull came in relief of Thompson and kept Tennessee without a run through the sixth to keep the game tied when St. Clair homered to left center to give BYU a 4-3 lead. Manuma followed that up with her second home run of the game, this time to left field to make it 5-3. Carly Duckworth and Sydney Broderick singled and Robinson walked to load the bases for the Cougars. Duckworth scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-3 heading to the bottom of the frame. After a single by the Lady Volunteers through the left side, Almond entered and retired all three batters she faced for the save.

Game two

BYU and San Diego State began the game in a pitcher’s duel. The Cougars put runners on in the first and second innings but were unable to cross anyone. The Aztecs put runners on in the second, and in the fourth they struck first with an RBI single up the middle to take a 1-0 lead. Broderick made it to second in the bottom of the frame but was unable to advance any further, keeping the score the same heading to the fifth.

San Diego State added one more in the top of the fifth on a single down the left-field line for the 2-0 lead. BYU put runners on the corners in the bottom of the frame and Thompson sent a drive to the warning track, but it was caught for the final out of the inning.

Robinson gave the Cougars a chance in the bottom of the seventh knocking a hard hit ball up in the air, catching it with her bare hand and making the throw to first. However, the Cougars could not get a rally started in the bottom of the frame going down in order. It was the eighth game decided by two runs or less in the last 11 meetings between the two teams.

If the weather permits, BYU will take on Fresno State on Friday at 2 p.m. PST, followed by Ole Miss at 4:30.

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

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