Behind a shutout performance from freshman pitcher Arissa Paulson, No. 19/21 BYU softball defeated Southern Utah, 4-0, on Wednesday at Gail Miller Field.
"Arissa Paulson threw a tremendous game and our defense was great behind her," BYU head coach Gordan Eakin said. "We had to grind it out tonight. It was a tough and gutsy win."
With the victory, BYU (32-10, 6-0 West Coast Conference) pushes its win streak to 11 games, the longest win streak of the season. Paulson went the distance, pitching seven innings and shutting out the Thunderbirds (11-23, 7-5 Big Sky) and throwing six hitless innings. The Cougar offense was powered by a three-run home run from junior Madison Merrell, while sophomore outfielder Lexi Tarrow collected two singles and scored a run. Senior Lauren Bell drew three walks in the win.
After two scoreless innings, BYU jumped ahead to take an early lead. In the bottom of the third, Tarrow singled to get things started for the Cougars. Bell drew a walk and sophomore Libby Sugg was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. A wild pitch from SUU’s Samantha Guile allowed Tarrow to score, and the Cougars led 1-0 at the end of three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior Briielle Breland was hit by a pitch and advanced to second after a single from Brooke Vander Heide, but the Cougars failed to bring either runner home.
In the fifth, Bell drew her third walk of the evening to give the Cougars their first baserunner of the inning. Caitlyn Larsen Alldredge laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Bell to second, putting her in scoring position with one out. Sugg and Thompson both flew out, stranding Bell on second. BYU still held the 1-0 lead at the end of the frame.
Alexa Strid's hit led off with a single for BYU in the bottom of the sixth and advanced to second after a bunt from McKenzie St. Clair. Breland drew a walk and the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Madison Merrell stepped in to pinch hit and knocked a deep ball over the center field wall for a three-run homer.
SUU recorded its first hit in the top of the seventh, but Paulson retired the next two batters and BYU held on to win.
The Cougars remain at home to host UVU next Wednesday, April 26, at 6 p.m. MDT.