BYU softball splits day one of Kajikawa Classic
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Coco Tauali’i and Sydney Broderick both had energizing performances Thursday in BYU’s season-opening split against Virginia and San Jose State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. The Cougars (1-1) topped the Cavaliers (0-2) 5-4 in dramatic walkoff fashion to start the day before falling to the Spartans (1-1) 9-8 in another one-run game.
“The emotional first game with Virginia hitting a grand slam in the seventh led us to a slower start in the second game against San Jose State,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “We needed to play cleaner defense and not issue as many bases on balls, and then we could have taken care of the first game easier. I was proud of them for battling back.”
Tauali’i’s walkoff double clinched the one-run win over Virginia. She finished the day going 2-for-6 with two doubles in addition to the RBI. Broderick came alive in the second game of the day, exploding with two home runs and four RBI in the one-run setback to San Jose State. It was the first multi-home run game for a BYU player since Katie Manuma did it against Tennessee last year on Feb. 27.
Several other Cougars shined on the first day of the season. Senior outfielder Lacey Hofstedt led the team in batting on the day, going 3-for-6 with one RBI and one stolen base.
Junior centerfielder Gordy Bravo and sophomore shortstop Lauren Bell both went 2-for-3 at the plate with one run scored in the first game. Sophomore second baseman McKenzie St. Clair chipped in on the day with two RBI, two runs scored and two walks drawn while going 2-for-3 at the plate. Sophomore Ashley Thompson went 1-for-4 with three walks, two runs scored and one stolen base.
Pitcher McKenna Bull threw a complete game against Virginia, allowing six hits and three earned runs while striking out nine.
The game was scoreless for the first two innings until BYU cashed in for three runs in the bottom of the third. Bravo led off the inning with a single through the left side before advancing to second on Bell’s walk. Mercedes O’Connor then reached base on an error, loading the bases. Thompson drove in the first run for the Cougars with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Bravo.
A couple batters later BYU tacked on another with bases loaded, this time with O’Connor on second and Broderick and Bell on first and third, respectively. Senior Megan Arnold was granted first base, taking a hit by pitch, allowing Bell to come home. The second baseman St. Clair followed with an RBI of her own on a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring O’Connor.
The Cougars added another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. St. Clair singled to center to lead off, eventually advancing to third on bunts by Tauli’i and Hofstedt. Bravo then walked before Bell reached base on an error that scored St. Clair for a 4-0 lead, heading into the possible last half-inning.
In the top of the seventh, Virginia’s Megan Harris reached first on an error to lead off the inning. Two walks loaded the bases for the Cavaliers, bringing the potential game-tying run to the plate.
The next batter Allison Davis homered to left field to knot the game at four apiece. The home run was only the fifth hit given up at that point in the game by Bull.
Virginia forced a bottom-of-the-seventh situation, but BYU honed in, stringing together a sequence with two outs to clinch its first win of the season. After Broderick flied out to right and Arnold grounded out to third, St. Clair singled to short, putting the go-ahead run on first. Third baseman Tauali’i came through in the clutch with a double to left field for the game-winning RBI, scoring St. Clair all the way from first.
Following the emotionally charged finish from the first game of the day, the Cougars gave up three runs in the first inning to the Spartans.
BYU battled back, scoring in each of the next three innings while holding San Jose State scoreless in those frames.
The Cougars scored in the second when Thompson advanced home as St. Clair was caught stealing second base. The next inning led off with Tauali’i’s second double of the day, this time to right field. She scored next on Hofstedt’s RBI bunt-single.
BYU climbed back in front in the fourth inning beginning with Broderick’s first homer of the game after she belted one to right field. Freshman Madison Merrell then tripled to left in her second collegiate at-bat. St. Clair then came up with her second sacrifice fly on the day as she scored Merrell from third for the 4-3 Cougar lead before heading to the top of the fifth.
San Jose State rallied, scoring one on a double to left-center before taking the lead 5-4 with a bases-on-balls RBI. The Cougars were held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth before the Spartans strung together more hitting for four more runs and a 9-4 advantage.
In the bottom half of the frame, Merrell drove in O’Connor to make the score 9-5. Then San Jose State only sent three batters to the plate in the top of the seventh as BYU turned a double play and got a Spartan to strike out looking. The Cougars attempted the comeback as Broderick’s timely three-run shot to right-center put them within one. The comeback fell short as the game ended with a groundout to the pitcher.
BYU continues play in the Kajikawa Classic with two games Friday, one against New Mexico at 11:15 a.m. MST and the other against California at 2 p.m. MST. Live stats will be available on the Cal athletics website for the second game. Updates will be posted on Twitter @BYUSoftball.
BYU softball will hold walk-on tryouts at Gail Miller Field on Friday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. MDT.