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BYU softball upsets No. 15 Arizona State, 9-8, to advance to NCAA regional final

Now BYU faces Virginia Tech in the regional final Saturday.

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BYU softball defeated Southern Illinois and Arizona State in NCAA Tournament play to reach the NCAA regional final.

FILE - BYU softball followed up a win over Southern Illinois by upsetting No. 15 Arizona State in the NCAA tournament Friday, May 21, 2021, to advance to the NCAA regional final.

Joey Garrison/BYU Photo

The BYU softball team won a pair of elimination games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional final in thrilling fashion Friday.

After defeating Southern Illinois 7-2 Friday afternoon, the Cougars knocked off No. 15 Arizona State 9-8 Friday night at Alberta B. Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

ASU became the first national seed to be eliminated from the NCAA Tournament this season. 

Now BYU faces Virginia Tech in the regional final Saturday (4 p.m. MDT, ESPN3). 

The Cougars opened the 2021 season against ASU at Farrington Stadium and lost two games to the Sun Devils. BYU avenged those losses by rallying to beat ASU Friday.

Cougar senior Rylee Jensen belted a two-run, two-out home run in the second inning to lift BYU to a 4-1 lead. Arizona State cut the deficit to 4-3 in the third inning. 

The Cougars led 5-3 going into the fifth inning, when ASU scored two runs on a wild pitch to seize a 6-5 advantage. The Sun Devils increased their lead to 7-5 on a solo homer in the sixth by Jasmine Hill.

But in the bottom of the sixth inning, BYU plated four runs, highlighted by a two-RBI single by freshman Violet Zavodnik, as the Cougars regained the lead, 9-7. 

ASU cut the deficit to 9-8 with a leadoff homer in the top of the seventh but BYU held on for the victory. 

The Cougars survived their first elimination game Friday afternoon thanks in large part to Zavodnik.

Zavodnik, the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and the Player of the Year, went hitless in four at-bats Thursday in a loss to Virginia Tech. But Zavodnik bounced back with an RBI double in the first inning and a solo home run in the fourth, propelling the Cougars to a 7-2 victory over Southern Illinois. 

BYU lost to Virginia Tech Thursday 5-2. To win the regional, the Cougars will need to defeat the Hokies twice. Virginia Tech downed Arizona State Friday afternoon.