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Shauna Howell
Caitlyn Alldredge, Libby Sugg, Alexa Strid and Briielle Breland have been voted BYU softball team captains for the 2018 season.

In the first of seven tournaments, No. 19 BYU softball opens the 2018 season competing against five teams in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, the Cougars play Stanford at 2:30 p.m. MT and Western Michigan at 7:15 p.m. Competition continues Friday with matchups against Nebraska at 2:15 p.m. and No. 25 Georgia at 7:45 p.m. Tournament play concludes with a game against Oregon State on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 10:15 a.m.

The opening game against Stanford will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and played at Farrington Stadium on Arizona State’s campus. All other games will be played at the Tempe Sports Complex, and specific field numbers can be found on the BYU softball schedule page. The Western Michigan, Nebraska and Georgia games can be streamed on FloSoftball with a subscription. Links to live stats, the live stream and the radio broadcast of the Nebraska game can be found on the schedule page.

BYU storyline

After winning the 2017 West Coast Conference title, BYU has won four-straight WCC championships. Additionally, it was the Cougars’ ninth-consecutive conference title, spanning four different conferences. The automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA tournament was BYU’s 13th straight and 14th overall.

In 2016, the Cougars opened their season at the Kajikawa Classic with wins over San José State, Wisconsin and Creighton while losing to then-ranked No. 8/9 Tennessee and No. 24 Notre Dame.

BYU returns five seniors: Caitlyn Alldredge, Briielle Breland, Madison Merrell, Arianna Paulson and Alexa Strid. Between them, they have started in 374 games. Alldredge is the reigning 2017 WCC Player of the Year and was an NFCA All-Pacific Region First Team selection. She and Strid both earned All-WCC First Team honors, while Breland was named to the All-WCC Second Team.

Junior catcher and team captain Libby Sugg has been named to the 2018 USA Softball College Player of the Year Watch List. She earned NFCA All-Pacific Region First Team honors and was named to the All-WCC Second Team last season. Sugg led the team in RBIs and home runs with 56 and 13, respectively, while hitting .356.

Opponents outlook

Stanford

The Cardinal finished the 2017 season with a 19-32 record, 2-22 in Pac-12 play. Stanford leads in the overall series, 8-2, most recently winning 7-5 on March 8, 2014, in the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic. Head coach Jessica Allister returns to her alma mater and enters her first season at Stanford. Previously, she led Minnesota for seven seasons, including a program-best 56-5 record in 2017 and the Gophers’ first No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll. She has compiled a 290-107 career record.

Western Michigan

In 2017, Western Michigan had a 25-29 overall record, going 11-13 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. This game will be the first meeting between the Cougars and Broncos. Kathy Leitke enters her 18th season at the helm of the Western Michigan program and 27th overall as a head coach. She has earned more than 700 career wins.

Nebraska

The Huskers finished 2017 with a 30-30 overall record, 13-10 in Big Ten play. Nebraska leads in the overall series against BYU, 7-4. The Cougars’ last win over the Huskers came on a 12-1 victory in five innings on February 9, 2017, at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Head coach Rhonda Revelle has been at Nebraska for 25 seasons, compiling a 937-514 record.

No. 25 Georgia

In 2017, Georgia finished the season with a 35-23 overall record, 6-18 in SEC play. The Bulldogs advanced to the Tallahassee Regional in 2017, where they beat Jacksonville State twice and dropped two games to Florida State. Georgia leads the overall series, 2-1. BYU most recently won, 4-0, last year on Feb. 23, in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Lu Harris-Champer enters her 18th season at the helm of Georgia softball. She has earned more than 1,000 wins through 22 seasons as a head coach, including an 812-308 record with the Bulldogs.

Oregon State

The Beavers finished 2017 with a 28-27 overall record, 9-15 in Pac-12 competition. Oregon State qualified for the Waco Regional in 2017 but fell to James Madison and Kent State. OSU holds the advantage in the overall series with a 3-12 record. BYU traveled to Oregon State last year and swept the two-game series, 4-2 and 2-1, on March 31 and April 1, respectively. Head coach Laura Berg has been with the Beavers for five seasons, compiling an overall record of 136-128 during that time.