BYU didn’t get a shot at the Utes this year, but making most of opportunities against other Utah schools
Mother Nature didn’t allow for a Utah-BYU softball showdown this season, but Cougars are 6-0 vs. other instate schools
BYU softball has dominated the state this season, putting together a perfect record in games played against opponents from Utah.
The Cougars have posted a 6-0 record in those contests, outscoring their fellow Beehive State squads 47-11 and picking up shutouts in all but two of those games.
BYU’s success against in-state foes has come as the school emphasizes winning first and foremost.
“While you always like to beat your in-state rivals, it’s not something that we single out or really focus on,” BYU coach Gordon Eakin said. “We want to win every game that we play.”
The Cougars won’t get a chance to play archrival Utah this year after the original contest and a subsequent makeup game were both scratched due to weather.
It marks the second time in three seasons that BYU and Utah have called off their only contests of the year — the other cancellation coming in 2020 due to COVID-19 abruptly halting the season.
BYU’s success against other in-state foes will have to serve as consolation to the canceled Utah contests. Despite missing out on its shot to play the Utes, the Cougars have proven their dominance in opportunities against other Utah rivals.
BYU entered the season with in-state games against Dixie State, Southern Utah, Utah, Utah State and Utah Valley. The Cougars won their only contest against the Trailblazers, while going 3-0 and 2-0 against the Thunderbirds and Wolverines, respectively. Two of BYU’s contests against SUU saw the Cougars get early victories when the “8-run rule” was enforced.
Despite treating every game the same way, Eakin acknowledges that rivalries can add different nuances to the competition.
“In-state rivalries tend to bring out a different level,” he said. “Even though I don’t approach it that way, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. I don’t think these games have any greater significance to me than a conference game or any other game, but it would be nice to continue to win.”
The Cougars are focused on winning every game, whoever the opponent might be.
“If you start magnifying certain games, that’s where you get yourself in trouble,” Eakin said. “We want (our team) to be excited and intense and aggressive no matter who we’re playing and not necessarily look at the name on the jersey (of the team) that we’re playing but go out and play hard and play our game. So we tend not to, as a coaching staff, talk with extra value about any team that we play.”
Whatever the Cougars are doing this year, it has worked. The last full season that BYU swept the state was 2012. That year also marked the first time that BYU and Utah did not play each other since the Cougars began their softball program in 2000.
Ultimately, for Eakin and his team, it does not matter who they play or where that school is located. They always welcome competition. “I’m excited for every game we play,” he said. “I love this sport and I love to win. I love to compete.”
The Cougars have performed well together, and their longtime head coach recognizes that.
“We have great team chemistry,” Eakin said. “It’s really important in today’s sporting world that you have great team chemistry. So for me, it’s hard to say one or two people or three people have stood out. I think that team chemistry, and everybody’s contribution to the team chemistry, is really what stands out to me.”
BYU’s chemistry has helped put the school at the top of the state’s softball ladder.
The Cougars hope their state supremacy continues as the season nears its end. BYU will play its final in-state contest Tuesday in Provo against Utah State. The Aggies have only defeated the Cougars once in the schools’ last 22 meetings. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.