Sophomore ace McKenna Bull’s 10 strikeouts led BYU softball to an 8-1 victory over Utah State in non-conference action Wednesday night at Gail Miller Field.
"All of our pitchers threw great today," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "McKenna threw exceptionally well with 10 strikeouts, and she had pretty good command today. The team had a great bounce back from the other day, playing pretty well both defensively and offensively."
In addition to her strikeouts, Bull only walked one batter and did not give up any runs in five innings of work.
Leading the Cougars (31-9) from the plate, Ashley Thompson went 3-for-4, while McKenzie St. Clair and Coco Tauali’i each had three RBIs. Lacey Hofstedt extended her career-long hit streak to 11 games.
BYU got out of a jam with two runners on base as Bull struck out the side in the top of the first.
The Aggies (16-33) came back strong early in the second inning with a standup double from Nicole Arata and an infield single from Brina Buttacavoli, but it wasn’t enough to bring anyone home as the next three batters were retired.
Mercedes O’Connor hit a leadoff double to left center in the bottom of the third. She eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Tauali’i to center.
Utah State's Jordyn McCracken came in to pitch in the bottom of the fourth and was welcomed with a leadoff homer from Gordy Bravo before three quick outs to end the inning.
Freshman pitcher Arianna Paulson relieved Bull with two outs in the top of the fifth before the Aggies’ first score of the night in the sixth. Utah State put one on the board when Buttacavoli brought Hailey Froton home with an RBI single to shallow center. Paulson ended the frame by striking out pinch hitter Sydney Hart.
An RBI double from Tauali’i along the left-field line brought Thompson and St. Clair home to wrangle in the 8-1 eventual final score before Alexa Strid flew out to right center.
Freshman Madison Merrell relieved Paulson in the top of the seventh, striking out leadoff pinch hitter Megan Rhead. Bull returned to the circle with two outs in the frame, finishing the night with her 10th strikeout.
“Our plan was to get everybody some work today going into the weekend,” Eakin said. “Particularly with Arianna Paulson and Maddie Merrell coming in in a relief situation. Then if it presented itself, having McKenna Bull come back in and close the game down just so that we could work on different scenarios.”
The Cougars next face San Diego in a three-game series at home this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader Friday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. MDT, and finishing with a 1 p.m. game Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on theW.tv on Friday and BYUtv on Saturday.
Joe Moxon is a sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications