McKenna Bull threw 17 strikeouts in BYU softball’s doubleheader, falling to No. 15 Arizona, 6-3, and shutting out UTEP, 8-0, in the Wildcat Invitational on Friday night.
“We played well today," BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. "We played inspired softball, but we just fell short of a great Arizona team. If we continue to play with that type of passion and energy, a lot of good things will happen."
BYU improves to 12-7 on the season. The Cougars now have six shutouts in 2016, Bull’s third she has played in this season. In the circle, Bull threw a total of 17 strikeouts and just three walks. Gordy Bravo and Madison Merrell led the offense with four hits each over the two games.
After completing the upset Thursday, BYU fell to Arizona (13-6). The two teams had seven hits apiece, but three errors from the Cougars gave the Wildcats the advantage. Bull threw six strikeouts and one walk in the loss. Bravo and Coco Tauali’i Bond had two hits, while Lexi Tarrow tallied the only RBI in the contest for BYU.
Both teams went three up, three down in the first inning. The Cougars were still hitless in the top of the second, but the Wildcats got on the board with a solo home run over the right field fence to take the early 1-0 lead. Bull was able to strike out three in the inning to get BYU back up to bat.
After Bravo got on first from an infield single in the top of the third, a fielding error off Lauren Bell’s single gave Bravo enough time to get all the way home from first base, scoring the Cougars’ first run, tying up the game 1-1.
The Wildcats took back the 4-1 lead in the third off a single to left field and an error in the outfield. Keeping BYU scoreless, Arizona had a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, extending its lead to 6-1 in the contest.
In the top of the seventh, the Cougars had one last chance to rally. Caitlyn Larsen scored after Tarrow singled to left field. Then, Bravo’s single allowed Bond to run home, making the deficit 6-3. However, the rally fell short and BYU fell to Arizona.
The Cougars completed their sixth shutout of the season against the Miners (8-11). Bull threw 11 strikeouts while allowing just two walks and three hits. Merrell led BYU with three RBIs, including a double and a home run.
Merrell got BYU off to a hot start, hitting a double to left field to bring in Ashley Thompson and Bond, putting the Cougars up 2-0 after the first inning.
The two teams were scoreless until the fifth inning when BYU got up to bat. Thompson hit her second home run of the year, a two-run bomb that pushed the Cougars’ lead to 4-0 over the Miners. In the same inning, Merrell hit a solo homer to extend the lead to 5-0.
Bull struck out three batters in the top of the sixth to avoid a bases-loaded situation, putting BYU up to bat. The Cougars took advantage of the situation by scoring three more runs. Emilee Erickson hit her first-career home run and Bravo doubled for an RBI and scored on an error. Those runs totaled BYU’s lead to 8-0, ending the game after six innings due to the mercy rule.
The Cougars conclude their play at the Wildcat Invitational with a matchup with No. 10 James Madison on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST. Live stats and live streaming will be available on the BYU schedule page.