Softball Sweeps Close Series With BYU

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Melissa Stahnke can claim a new nickname: “Cougar Killer.”

With back-to-back home runs, one in the bottom of the eighth inning, Stahnke led the U softball team to a comeback, eighth-inning 8-7 win over BYU in the second game of the doubleheader, completing the two-game sweep of the Cougars. The Utes won 3-2 in Game 1, which also needed eight innings.

“I knew when we showed up today, we were going to play well,” said U coach Mona Stevens.

In Game 1, Traci Keller hit a triple to send in Lauren Field, a pinch runner, who was at first base. Field, who also plays soccer for the U, had just recently returned from a soccer game. She had just entered the dugout and was putting her cleats on when Stevens sent her in to pinch run. The move paid off.

Heather Bowlin pitched the first game, but was replaced after the third inning with Jennifer Pursell, after she had allowed two runs on illegal pitches. Pursell came in and finished off the Cougars, not allowing any runs and striking out three.

Game 2 was no less exciting, as the Utes jumped off to a big 5-0 lead, with three runs in the first inning, and two more in the second.

Two Cougar errors scored Molly McLean and Masie Ota on a bad throw by third baseman Megan Johnson. Angie Kenney scored Lyndsey Trevis on a single to left field.

Keller scored in the second when McLean tripled to center field. Ota hit a single, allowing McLean to score. The Utes led 5-1 after two innings.

The Cougars bounced back in the game when Oli Keohohou and Ariel Capra hit solo home runs in the third to pull the Cougars within two, at 5-3.

Then things went south for Utah. Three of BYU’s four runs in the fifth inning were scored on a throwing error, giving the Cougars a 7-5 lead. Things weren’t looking good for Utah.

Stevens pulled Pursell for Bowlin, who got vengeance from her illegal pitching problem, allowing no runs and one hit in 3.2 innings.

“In my head, I wasn’t too happy about [what happened in the first game],” Bowlin said. “I was just thinking ‘shut them down’ [in the second].”

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Stahnke hit a solo home run to pull the Utes within one.

The Utes held the Cougars scoreless in the seventh, and then it was rally time.

With two outs and a runner at first, Keller doubled, scoring Kenney. The game was tied at 7-7.

After the Utes got the bases loaded, Trevis’ shot to right field fell short, and the game would once again go to extra innings.

Three up, three down for the Cougars led to a game-winning opportunity for the Utes.

Stahnke led off. One pitch?one swing?game over. Stahnke sent a solo shot over the center field fence, giving the Utes the 8-7 win.

“She pretty much pitched it right down the middle,” Stahnke said. “I really wasn’t trying to hit a home run.”

The Utes, now 19-31, 7-3 in the Mountain West Conference, head off to Logan, Utah, for another battle with Utah State on Tuesday.

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