BYU softball: Cougars fall short in two tight contests

By Spencer Shamo

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 12 2014 11:07 p.m. MDT

BYU softball fell short in games against James Madison and No. 2/4 Oregon on Wednesday in the Rainbow Wahine Classic.

“We are competing with the best teams in the nation," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "We just can't get the key hits when we need it, but we will keep at it until we start breaking through."

Sydney Broderick went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Mercedes O’Connor went 1-for-3 with a double and a run to lead BYU (9-15) against James Madison (15-8). Lacey Millett Hofstedt led the way in the second game hitting 3-for-4 with a run against Oregon (19-2).

Game one

With a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the first, James Madison struck first with a single up the middle to take a 1-0 lead over BYU. The Cougars answered in the third when O’Connor doubled down the right field line and Broderick drove her in with a single up the middle to tie the game.

The Dukes led off the bottom of the third with a double to right center and scored one on a single to left field to go back on top, 2-1.

In the top of the sixth, Broderick and Lauren Bell led off the inning with singles. Bell stole second and Broderick stole third with one out to put the go ahead run in scoring position. However, the Cougars were unable to score either runner to tie the game. With a runner on first in the bottom of the frame, James Madison took advantage of a throwing error to score what ended up being the last run of its 3-1 victory.

Game two

Ashley Thompson started the second game for the Cougars and pitched a scoreless first inning. Gordy Bravo singled in the bottom of the frame, but BYU was unable to advance any further.

The Ducks led off the second inning with a single and a steal to put a runner in scoring position. Another single gave them a 1-0 lead. Two consecutive walks and a groundout scored another and gave Oregon a 2-0 lead. Katie Manuma walked to lead off the bottom of the frame and stole second to get into scoring position, but the Ducks pitching proved too much for the Cougars as they left her stranded on second.

McKenna Bull entered in the third with a runner on first and struck out both batters she faced to get out of the inning. The Ducks added another run to their lead in the fourth inning after a two-out walk, a wild pitch and a single made it 3-0 in their favor.

Bull didn’t allow a run in the fifth and sixth innings to keep it close. In the bottom of the sixth, Hofstedt singled to the pitcher, Bravo walked and McKenzie St. Clair singled to load the bases for BYU with no outs. A wild pitch allowed Hofstedt to score and make it 3-1 going into the seventh.

Oregon put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the seventh, but Bull struck out the next two batters swinging to keep the score at 3-1 going into the bottom of the frame. Megan Arnold walked, and Bell and Hofstedt singled to load the bases with one out. St. Clair walked with two outs to pull the Cougars within one at 3-2, but they were unable to get the tying run across.

BYU returns to action Thursday against Hawai’i at 8 p.m. HST. The game will have a live stream on the internet by BigWest.tv.

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

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