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BYU softball: Four home runs lead Cougars to doubleheader sweep

By Spencer Shamo

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 2 2014 10:09 p.m. MDT

BYU softball utilized four home runs to defeat Pacific, 3-2 in the first game and 8-0 to finish the doubleheader sweep Friday.

“Obviously these two wins were huge for our program and our chances to win the conference this year," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "The team played great in both games and both Tori [Almond] and McKenna [Bull] were lights out on the mound to set the tone for us.”

Katie Manuma, Gordy Bravo, Ashley Thompson and Mercedes O’Connor each homered to score all 11 BYU (27-21, 8-2 WCC) runs. Sydney Broderick led off both games with a single up the middle to extend her hitting streak to 14 games. The streak is tied with Ianeta Le’i for the eighth longest in school history.

Almond (7-6) earned the win over Pacific (20-27, 8-6 WCC) in the first game allowing only three hits in five innings pitched. Bull (14-9) did not allow a hit in the final two innings of game one to earn the save before pitching a one-hit complete-game shutout in the second.

Game one

BYU put together all the offense it needed against the Tigers early. Broderick singled up the middle to start the game and Lauren Bell drew a walk to put runners on first and second for Manuma. Manuma capitalized with a shot over the left field fence to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead. The home run was Manuma’s ninth setting a new career high for home runs in a single season. Almond kept Pacific at bay retiring all three batters she faced in the bottom of the frame.

After a scoreless second and third, Pacific put runners on first and second with no outs for their top hitter Taylor Petty. Petty singled up the middle to score one and make it 3-1 in favor of the Cougars. Manuma snagged a line drive and touched first, and Almond struck out the final batter to get out of the jam.

In the top of the fourth, Bell singled and Bravo reached on an error to put runners on first and second for Manuma once again. However, Pacific forced a groundout to the short stop to end the threat. The Tigers drew a walk and reached on an error to put a runner in scoring position to begin the bottom of the frame. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners and an error allowed one run to score and cut BYU’s lead to 3-2 heading to the final two innings.

Bull entered in the bottom of the sixth after the leadoff batter singled through the left side. She quickly retired the next three batters to help BYU maintain its 3-2 advantage.

The Cougars were unable to create any more separation in the top of the seventh, but Bull retired all three batters she faced in the bottom of the seventh for the save. Bull now holds BYU’s single season record with five saves.

Game two

Much like game one, Broderick started the game with a single up the middle. Bravo then got up and crushed one to right field for her first home run of the season, giving BYU the 2-0 lead. Manuma followed with a single up the middle and McKenzie St. Clair walked to put runners on first and second with two outs. Thompson then stepped to the plate and homered to left field, her fourth of the year, to make it 5-0 BYU. Bull set down all three batters she faced in the bottom of the frame including a strikeout.

The Cougars threatened again in the top of the second with Broderick singling to left field and Bell reaching on a bunt single to second base with no outs, but the Cougars were unable to capitalize after a line drive double play ended the inning. Bull struck out two in the bottom of the inning as the Tigers were unable to get anyone on base.

After a scoreless third inning, Bravo slapped one to third for a single to put a runner on with one out in the top of the fourth. After Manuma grounded into a fielder’s choice, O’Connor homered to left field to extend the Cougars lead to 8-0. The Tigers were able to get a hit in the bottom of the fourth, but Ashlee Robinson grabbed a line drive and threw to first for the double play and Manuma grabbed another line drive to end the inning.

After the Tigers led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, a high fly ball caused the base runner to hold at first allowing O’Connor to pick up the dropped fly ball and throw to second for the first out of the inning. The next batter popped up to Broderick in foul territory who then turned and threw out the runner trying to advance to second to end the game.

BYU wraps up its series with Pacific on Saturday at noon PDT at Bill Simoni Field. The game will be streamed live on Pacific's website.

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

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