Freshman McKenzie St. Clair continued her strong early season to lead BYU to a split on Friday.
“We are hitting really well and it’s nice to split today,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “However, in the young season we just seem to keep beating ourselves. If we stop giving up walks and play some solid defense we could easily be 4-0 right now. So we need to hit better spots with our pitches and play better defense.”
BYU (2-2) lost a close 10-9 game against Nevada (1-0) after coming back from five runs down. The Cougars won their second game, 13-5, against East Carolina (1-1) on solid hitting.
St. Clair went 5-for-7 with a home run and five RBIs. Sydney Broderick hit .333 with four RBIs, and Ashley Thompson added four RBIs of her own on 3-for-8 hitting.
Nevada got out to an early lead scoring in the first two innings. The Wolfpack started the game with a leadoff double and capitalized with a single through the left side. Their second run came when the runner on third crossed the plate after a pickoff throw to second was high. In the second inning, the Wolfpack loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Another walk brought in a run and a single gave Nevada the 5-0 lead.
After McKenna Bull held Nevada scoreless in the top of the third, St. Clair singled to start the bottom of the inning, and Coco Tauali’i hit a home run to deep center to make it 5-2. Gordy Bravo then reached on an error to set up a Carly Duckworth two-run shot over the left centerfield fence to make it 5-4.
After Nevada put one more run on the board in the top of the fourth, St. Clair homered to left center to tie the game at six. Bull pitched a perfect top of the fifth striking out two to take the tie into the bottom of the frame.
Megan Arnold kept the momentum going with a single to begin the second. Two consecutive walks loaded the bases, and Thompson hit a bloop single up the right field line to bring in two runs and give the Cougars the 8-6 lead. Broderick sacrificed to left field to bring Ashlee Robinson across the plate, extending the lead to three.
The Wolfpack put runners on first and third to start the top of the sixth when Katie Manuma came in for Bull. Nevada took advantage of two errant throws and a single to score four runs and take a 10-9 lead. The Cougars would get runners on first and second in each of the last two innings but were unable to capitalize.
BYU started game two on a high note, starting with Thompson retiring the first three batters she faced. In the bottom of the frame, BYU drew two walks and used two wild pitches to score a run. With a runner on third, St. Clair singled to bring in Duckworth from third and give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, the Pirates would capitalize on a double and a throwing error to score two runs and tie the game. The Cougars came back strong in the bottom of the inning. First, Manuma reached on an error and used a walk to St. Clair and a single from Thompson to cross the plate. Broderick then singled for her first career hit to score Thompson and St. Clair.
East Carolina battled to tie the game at five again scoring two runs on a double and three singles and adding their third run on a fielding error. BYU answered yet again. After Tauali’i walked, Bell and Duckworth singled to load the bases. Manuma then singled up the middle to score a run, and St. Clair doubled to right center to add two more, giving the Cougars an 8-5 lead. With runners on second and third, Thompson grounded out to the shortstop but still enabled the runners to advance to score another. Broderick laid down a squeeze bunt to score the fifth run of the inning and give BYU a 10-5 lead heading into the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Duckworth and Bell scored on a wild pitch giving the Cougars a 12-5 lead. They were unable to plate another run in the bottom of the fifth to end the game. However, in the sixth St. Clair singled, advanced on two hard hits to the shortstop and scored on a wild pitch for the game winning run.
BYU finishes play in the Red Desert Classic against the University of Texas at Arlington on Saturday at 11 a.m. MST.
Spencer Shamo is a Communications major at BYU and the BYU softball SID.
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