SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah and BYU softball teams were nearly flawless during the first day of NCAA regional games at Dumke Family Softball Stadium on Thursday, making today's second-round matchup all the more intriguing.
The Utes and Cougars square off Friday at 1 p.m. MDT, with the game being streamed live on ESPN3.
The winner will move into Saturday's final round of the four-team double-elimination regional undefeated, and in the driver's seat to advance to the Super Regional round. The loser, meanwhile, will still be alive but will have a much tougher road to advance. The loser of today's Utah-BYU game will play the winner of today's Mississippi State-Fordham tilt Friday night.
Given each team's first-round performance, it would appear likely Friday's game won't be the last time the Utes and Cougars square off in regional action, which concludes Saturday.
Utah overwhelmed Fordham 10-0 — needing just five innings to put the mercy rule into effect. The Utes outhit the Rams 9-2 and committed no errors en route to a relatively easy victory. Leading the way were outfielder Alyssa Barrera and third-baseman Heather Bowen, each of whom knocked in three runs.
“They needed this game to get back in a good groove,” said Utah coach Amy Hogue after the game. “I guarantee they were just as pumped for this game as they were for any game that we’ve had in the past two weeks. A lot of them needed some feel-good swings and a chance to run the bases, and for Katie to have some kids swing and miss.”
The Cougars proved almost as dominant in an 8-0 win over Mississippi State, which went just six innings due to the mercy rule. Pitcher McKenna Bull only struck out one batter but also allowed just one hit. Leading from the plate was designated hitter Lexi Tarrow, who went 3-for-4 with a triple and a double.
"We played well today," said BYU coach Gordon Eakin after his team's win. "That's the way this team is capable of playing. We pitched well, we defended well and we got timely hits. We're capable of doing that and the key is to continue to do that."
The Cougars proved capable of beating the Utes back in March — taking a 4-3 thriller, which started off a very strong finish to the regular season. The Utes, meanwhile, battled through tough Pac-12 play to finish an impressive fifth in the final standings.