Cougars open WCC play with sweep of Broncos
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A home run in each game of its West Coast Conference-opening doubleheader helped BYU softball sweep Santa Clara 4-3 in game one and 8-2 in the nightcap, at SCU Softball Field on Friday night.
Cougar (19-9, 2-0 WCC) catcher Hailey Morrow hit a 2-run shot in game one and center fielder Violet Zavodnik launch a grand slam in game two, both their fifth home run of the season. Kaysen Korth and Chloe Temples each started a game in the circle for BYU and totaled a combined 18 strikeouts between the 14 innings pitched.
Game 1: BYU 4 | Santa Clara 3
The Cougars broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning and added to their lead in the fourth before withstanding a seventh inning rally by the Broncos.
- Kaysen Korth: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 11 K
- Maddie Bejarano: 2-4, 2B, RBI
- Hailey Morrow: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI
After avoiding trouble as Santa Clara loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, BYU struck first in the top of the third. Alexis Gilio earned a five-pitch walk before Maddie Bejarano sent an RBI double one hopping off the center field wall, scoring Gilio to put the Cougars ahead 1-0.
BYU plated three runs in the top of the fourth to take a commanding four run lead. Maddie Udall doubled off the center field field on the first pitch she saw, and her pinch runner, Lexie Bennett, scored on a Mallory Barber single to right center. Morrow then sent a 2-run homer over the wall in left as the Cougars went ahead 4-0.
SCU loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fifth inning, but Korth retired back-to-back Bronco batters on pop outs to get out of her second jam of the game.
Santa Clara strung together two-straight hits after an error and walk to score three and come within one run in the bottom of the seventh, but Kaysen Korth stuck out the next SCU batter—her 11th of the day—to close out the 4-3 victory.
Game 2: BYU 8 | Santa Clara 2
A five-run sixth inning, fueled by Zavodnik’s grand slam, helped the Cougars seal the doubleheader sweep of the Broncos.
- Chloe Temples: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 7 K
- Violet Zavodnik: 1-2, HR, 5 RBI
- Maddie Udall: 2-4, RBI
- Hailey Morrow: 2-3, 2B
- Alexis Gilio 2-4, 2 2B
BYU took a quick 2-0 lead to open the game as Ailana Agbayani reached on an error and advanced to second. Bejarano moved her to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Zavodnik brought her home with a sacrifice fly to center field. Two consecutive walks to Hunter Ava and Martha Epenesa brought up Udall, who singled through the right side to score Ava and put the Cougars up two runs midway through the first inning.
Santa Clara cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, tallying two singles and tagging up on a fly out before executing a double steal to plate a run and make the score 2-1 through three.
Looking to add to its lead in the fourth, Alexis Gilio doubled to right field for BYU, but was thrown out trying to stretch out a triple.
With Zavodnik was hit by a pitch and Ava singling to right field in the top of the fifth inning. The Cougars had another shot at an insurance run, but a foul out and pop out ended the threat.
After five-straight Bronco batters were retired in order, SCU got a bunt single and advanced the runner to second on a wild pitch, but a Chloe Temples strikeout ended the Santa Clara attack.
BYU blew it open in the top of the sixth, batting around the order. Morrow singled into left field and Lauren Flanders came in to pinch run. Gilio then doubled into the right center gap and Agbayani popped a bloop single into shallow left to score Flanders. The Cougars then loaded the bases with just one out after Bejarano was hit by a pitch, bringing up Zavodnik, who hammered the first pitch she saw over the right-field wall for a grand slam, the fourth of her career and second this season to make it 7-1, BYU.
SCU got its leadoff runner on in the bottom half of the sixth with a comebacker that grazed Temples’ glove. The runner advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on a fly out. Back-to-back strikeouts from Temples; however—her sixth and seventh of the night—stranded the Bronco runner at the third.
Morrow walked to lead off the top of the seventh, eventually coming around to score as Gilio reached on a fielder’s choice, Agbayani laid down a sacrifice bunt and Bejarano grounded out, giving the Cougars an 8-1 advantage.
Santa Clara was able to pick up one run in the home half of the final frame with two walks, a ground out and a sacrifice fly, before a fly out to Zavodnik in center would close out the BYU 8-2 victory and sweep the conference-opening doubleheader.
The Cougars and Broncos will face off in the series finale on Saturday, April 8, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. PDT. The game will be streamed on the WCC Network.
BYU softball will hold walk-on tryouts at Gail Miller Field on Friday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. MDT.