CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. — BYU softball split the first two games at the Mary Nutter Classic on Thursday afternoon at the Big League Dreams complex.
"At this high level of competition we need to figure out how to close games out," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "Once again, we had a 4 to 1 lead after five innings and didn’t finish. However, we were able to bounce back after that tough loss to beat a solid Missouri team."
In the first two games of the tournament, BYU (5-5, 0-0 WCC) took an extra-inning loss 5-4 to Nebraska (8-2, 0-0 Big Ten), followed by a 7-3 win over Missouri (8-3, 0-0 SEC).
The Cougars tallied eight hits but were unable to keep their lead. Senior Libby Sugg and Arissa Paulson both hit doubles in the game while Rylee Jensen hit her fourth homer of the season and went 2 for 4 at the plate with two RBI.
After three scoreless innings, the Cougars put a run on the board in the top of the fourth. A single to third base from Lexi Tarrow got BYU started. Sugg followed, hitting a double to center field, driving in Tarrow for the first run of the game. In the top of the fifth frame, with Brooke Vander Heide on first base, Jensen sent a ball over the fence to make the score 3-0.
However, Nebraska answered back in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Huskers loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly to right field sent in a runner to cut the lead to 3-1. The next batter walked to again load the bases but a fielder’s choice to Marissa Chavez helped BYU escape the inning with no more damage.
BYU scored one more in the top of the sixth as Sanchez singled, followed by Arissa Paulson, who doubled to right field. Allie Hancock and Aubrielle Paulson subbed in as pinch runners for Sanchez and Arissa Paulson, respectively. Hancock made it home as Chavez singled to make the score 4-1.
The Huskers built on their momentum from the fifth inning, driving three runners home to tie the game at 4-4. No runs were scored in the seventh inning, sending the game into extra innings. The Cougars were unable to get a runner home in the top of the eighth and Nebraska came up to bat.
With a runner on second, due to international tiebreaker rules, the Huskers bunted to advance the runner to third. Nebraska again bunted and BYU tried to get the runner at the plate, but it was too late and the Huskers took the win 5-4.
Ashley Godfrey went 3 for 4 at the plate with one run and one RBI while Taylei Williams hit her first BYU homer, tallying three RBI. Kerisa Viramontes got her first win of the season, pitching all seven innings, striking out four batters.
To start the game, Vander Heide reached on a fielder’s choice and then stole second to put her in scoring position. Bridget Fleener drew a walk before Sanchez singled to right field, scoring Vander Heide and advancing Fleener to third. Godfrey also singled, driving in Fleener to give BYU the lead 2-0 in the first inning.
Mizzou got on the board with a homer in its first at-bat of the second inning to close BYU’s lead to 2-1.
With her second at-bat of the day, Fleener hit her first dinger of the season in the top of third to make the Cougars' score 3-1. The Tigers answered back, scoring a run of their own in the bottom of the third, making it a one-run game again.
With bases loaded and only one out, Sugg came in to pinch hit, hitting a sacrifice fly to left field, sending in Tarrow to make the score 4-2. Williams followed, driving her first BYU homer over the center field fence for a three-run jack to give BYU a five-run lead at 7-2.Comment on this story
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers threatened to come back, loading the bases and scoring a run. But a hitter fouled out, leaving two runners on base, giving BYU the win 7-3.
BYU continues at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Friday, Feb. 22, at 12:30 p.m. PT against Nebraska. The Cougars will then take on No. 4 Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. PT. Both games will be played at the Big League Dreams complex in Cathedral City. Both games will be streamed live on FloSoftball with live stats available on the BYU schedule page.