(Courtesy of BYU Media Relations)
EUGENE, Ore. - After what began as a pitching duel, BYU softball fell to Oregon 8-0 in its first game of the NCAA regional at Howe Field in Eugene, Oregon.
"We made some great plays to keep ourselves in the game," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "They just took advantage of some plays I thought we were capable of making in the fifth inning and opened it up. It proved to be more than we could overcome."
The Cougars (39-13) kept the game close with key defensive plays, ultimately falling with a late-inning run by the Ducks (47-6) to go along with strong pitching from Cheridan Hawkins. BYU pitcher McKenna Bull dropped to 34-8 on the season with only her eighth loss on the year.
The Ducks scored the first run of the game when a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch pushed a runner across home plate for the 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Sydney Broderick reached base on a one-out walk, but the next two hitters went down swinging.
The duel continued in the bottom half of the frame between the two pitchers. Bull got the first out swinging before giving up the first hit of the game to Danica Mercado. The Cougars then turned the 4-3 double play to end the inning.
Oregon scored one run in the bottom of the third, missing out on additional runs due to BYU's defense. The leadoff batter reached on an infield single and stole second. After a fly-out, BYU threw the runner out at home with a throw from O'Connor to Broderick. The next batter hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring the runner from second under the throw from centerfield.
The Ducks threatened again in the fourth. A single on a sun ball put two runners on base, but BYU came up with two more defensive stops to get out of the frame with the second out of the frame on a play at home from the right-fielder Hofstedt to Broderick and the third out from the catcher Broderick to Bell at second to pick off the runner to end the inning.
The Cougars took some momentum into the top of the fifth, putting a runner in scoring position with Broderick's leadoff double to right field. The next three hitters were retired in order to send the game to the bottom of the fifth.
The Ducks opened up the game with a five-run fifth. With runners on second and third, a one-out bouncing single up the middle scored the first run of the frame. Two batters later, a bases-loaded double drove in two more runs for the 5-0 tally. Before the end of the frame, a second two-run double upped the score to 7-0.
Oregon scored once more in the game, getting the final run on a single to third to end the game.
BYU will face Fresno State in an elimination game Friday at 2 p.m. PDT.