A lot has changed over the past year, but one thing that hasn’t: BYU is the West Coast Conference softball champion. It is the 12th consecutive year the Cougars have accomplished the feat.
BYU clinched the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament over the weekend, when the Cougars swept Santa Clara.
The Cougars wrapped up the regular season on Tuesday and are now awaiting Sunday’s Selection Show to see where they land on the bracket and what region they play in.
For HannaJo Peterson, this will be her first Selection Show. The senior outfielder came to BYU last school year after two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho, but was unable to have that experience last year because the 2020 season was cut short due to the pandemic.
While she’s never been in this position, Peterson is excited.
“I have no idea what to expect,” Peterson said. “I mean, there’s rumors about where we could potentially go, but I know wherever we go, our coaches are going to prepare us the best they can and we’re all going to be super excited. … It’s awesome that we’re even getting to play.”
Before the Cougars find out their fate, they will host one more event.
Last week, due to COVID-19 protocols, the Pacific series — originally scheduled for this Friday and Saturday — was canceled. The fairly last-minute change in plans led BYU to add a game against Dixie State on Monday.
It also moved the Cougars’ senior day plans to Monday. However, coach Gordon Eakin also added a Blue-White scrimmage on Friday to properly say goodbye to seniors Rylee Jensen, Emilee Erickson, Erin Miklus, Morgan Bevell and Marissa Chavez.
“I’m actually really glad we’re doing that because I know a lot of the seniors’ parents weren’t able to come out on Monday when they got recognized,” Peterson said. “And I just think that they’ve spent so much of their lives playing softball and here at BYU that they deserve to have that special moment. … We’re going to make it as serious and realistic as possible just so they can feel important. And they should feel important.”
The Cougars wrapped up their conference portion of the season with an 11-1 record. Looking at BYU’s nonconference schedule, the Cougars still put up a winning record (25-14) — and the competition they faced will help them through the postseason.
BYU faced a handful of ranked opponents earlier in the season. Nearly half of the Cougars’ nonconference losses came at the hands of those teams.
That’s the plan every year, Eakin said. BYU schedules a really difficult nonconference schedule to help prepare the Cougars for the postseason.
“That’s a strategy that we have had [and] I think it pays off,” Eakin said. “I don’t think we go into any games that we play, regardless of the opponent, looking at the name on the jersey. Rather, we go in there knowing we can compete with the teams we play against and we’re confident when we do that.”