BYU softball: Cougars are ousted from NCAA Tournament
College softball » Losses to Washington and Northwestern end BYU’s season.
By howie stalwick
| Special to The Tribune
First Published May 16 2014 04:03 pm
Last Updated May 16 2014 11:38 pm
Seattle • The young BYU Cougars were taught a few painful lessons by their elders Friday at the NCAA softball tournament.
Veteran teams from Washington and Northwestern combined for 23 runs on 23 hits – including five home runs – to send the Cougars packing at the Seattle Regional.
Northwestern eliminated BYU with an 8-3 decision Friday night. Earlier, host Washington downed the Cougars 9-0 in a game called after five innings due to the eight-run rule at Husky Softball Stadium.
Washington snapped BYU’s 16-game winning streak. The Cougars, who started five freshmen against Washington and six against Northwestern, finished 34-23.
"We had a great year," BYU coach Gordon Eakin said. "They [his players] deserve credit for as far as we came."
Northwestern (35-17) plays Washington (35-13) for the regional championship today at 1 p.m. MT at Husky Softball Stadium. The Huskies are the only team yet to lose at the regional, so Northwestern would have to beat Washington twice today to advance to the Super Regionals next week.
The Wildcats, one of the nation’s top offensive teams, pounded 14 hits off BYU pitchers McKenna Bull and Tori Almond. Three of the hits left the yard.
"We never recovered from the Washington game," Eakin said. "Washington took it to us.
"Northwestern’s a great team, but we just didn’t rebound. We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we’re capable of playing."
Almond and Bull combined on a four-hitter in Thursday’s opening round, when the Cougars downed the hard-hitting Wildcats 7-2. Both pitchers were battered in the rematch.
"I guess yesterday was so emotional," Eakin said. "They just didn’t have it today."
Northwestern freshman Nicole Bond gave up three runs and four walks in the first inning, then was yanked after walking No. 9 hitter Ashlee Robinson to start the second inning. Senior Sammy Albanese (6-6) scattered six hits over the final six innings, and she belted a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the fourth.
"Sammy was awesome," Northwestern right fielder Andrea DiPrima said. "We love it when Sammy’s out there. She’s a competitor. She’s fierce."
The Huskies, seeded 12th in the 64-team NCAA tournament, outhit the Cougars 9-2. Hot-hitting left fielder Whitney Jones bashed a three-run homer to right-center in the first inning, then launched a two-run shot to center in the fourth inning, a ball that left the entire stadium.
Almond (11-7) lasted just two-thirds of an inning against Washington, giving up four runs on five hits. Bull pitched the remaining 4 1-3 innings and threw 103 pitches.
Washington senior Bryana Walker, mixing pitches expertly, gave up two hits and struck out five. She improved her career record in NCAA tournament games to 7-1.
"She’s as good as it comes," Eakin said. "She has all the pitches."
"We weren’t ourselves," BYU first baseman Katie Manuma said. "We weren’t aggressive, so we made her better than she is."
The Huskies have outscored rivals 44-4 during a five-game winning streak. Their last three games have ended early due to the eight-run rule.