(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – After two dominant performances by senior McKenna Bull, No. 25 BYU softball completed a two-game sweep against Wagner on Thursday at Gail Miller Field.
"It was nice to get two wins today," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "We took care of business in the first game with a nice team win. With our backs against the wall down three in the fifth inning, the girls responded well and we pulled out a nice win in the bottom of the seventh."
The Cougars (18-7, 0-0 West Coast Conference) scored 12 runs off 15 hits on the evening while holding the Seahawks (2-13, 0-0 Northeatern Conference) to just five runs off 10 hits. BYU is now riding a six-game win streak, its longest since stringing together eight wins last season. Rylee Jensen led the Cougars with three runs batted in off two hits while Caitlyn Larsen Alldredge went 3 for 5 on the evening with knocking in two runs and making three trips across home plate. Bull contolled both games from the circle for the Cougars, retiring 12 Seahawk batters on strikes and allowing just four hits.
In the first game of the evening, the Cougars stifled the Seahawks thanks to a dominant seven-inning outing from Bull. Bull went the distance, striking out seven batters while allowing just one run and four hits in the Cougars' 7-1 victory.
Both teams had empty first innings and the Cougars were the first to get on the board in the bottom of the second inning, scoring four runs to take the early lead. Ashley Thompson led off for BYU and reached first base after an error by the Seahawks. After a sacrifice bunt from Alexa Strid, Thompson scored on a deep single by Arissa Paulson and BYU took a 1-0 lead. With the bases loaded, Jensen grounded out to second, scoring Paulson from third for the Cougars' second run of the inning. Lauren Bell then doubled to left center to bring home Brooke Vander Heide and Alldredge, establishing a 4-0 advantage.
After a scoreless third inning, BYU tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 7-0 lead over Wagner. Alldredge started things off with a home run over centerfield. Jensen later tripled to score Vander Heide, and Briielle Breland, pinch running, scored the Cougars' third and final run of the inning after a wild pitch.
The Seahawks got on the board in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run from Kayla Smith, but Bull answered with back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out to retire the side. BYU and Wagner both came up with empty innings in the sixth, and the Cougars held on for the 7-1 victory.
BYU vs. Wagner Game One Box Score
In the second game of the evening, the Wagner offense came alive, but the Cougar bats rallied to pull out a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory.
Rylee Jensen helped the Cougars off to a strong start with a lead-off home run over the center field wall in the first inning, giving BYU an early 1-0 advantage.
After the Cougars held Wagner scoreless for two innings, sophomore Libby Sugg doubled to give BYU its next scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second. Sugg advanced to third after a wild pitch from Wagner pitcher and Alldredge drew a walk to give BYU runners at the corners in scoring position. However, the Seahawks doubled up the Cougars on a line drive to end the rally.
Following two scoreless innings, Wagner put runners on second and third base in the top of the fourth. With two outs, a wild pitch from Arissa Paulson allowed the runner at third to score and the Seahawks tied the game 1-1. The next Seahawks batter, Jessica Carlucci, hit a blooper up the middle scoring the runner from third and Wagner took a 2-1 lead.
Kerisa Viramontes replaced Paulson in the circle for the Cougars in the top of the fifth, but the Seahawks' bats were still swinging. Wagner put two runners on base with no outs and a line drive double from Brianna Tredway scored both runners, pushing the lead to 4-1.
BYU answered in the bottom half of the inning when Alldredge went yard for the second time in the series. The next Cougar batter, Allie Hancock, drew a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Vander Heide. Vander Heide moved into scoring position after stealing second and Bell drew a walk to put the tying run on board with two outs. Tarrow stepped up next to the plate for BYU and drilled a line-drive double to the gap in left field, scoring both runners and tying the game at 4-4. The Seahawks made a pitching change and McKaleigh Goodale took over on the mound and forced the final out of the inning.
The Cougars also made a change in the circle in the top of the sixth as Bull returned in relief for the Cougars. She struck out the side to preserve the 4-4 deadlock. After a scoreless round of at bats in the bottom of the sixth, Bull returned to the circle and struck out two more Seahawk batters, heading to the bottom of the seventh with the score still tied.
Leading off for BYU in the seventh, Breland beat out an infield single and Vander Heide laid down a well-aimed bunt to move the winning run into scoring position. Jensen stepped up to the plate next for the Cougars and advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt down the first base line. Bell then hit a chopper towards the second baseman and Breland slid into home just in time to beat the tag, scoring the winning run. The Cougars walked off with a 5-4 victory.
BYU vs. Wagner Game Two Box Score
BYU will continue the homestand against the University of Utah in the Deseret Duel matchup on Wednesday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. MDT, at Gael Miller Field.