BYU Softball: Cougars season ends in the NCAA Regionals

Carly Duckworth crosses home plate against Northwestern - BYU Photo/Tracy Duckworth

After another successful regular season, the Cougars fall in the NCAA tournament.

Friday provided a bitter end to another fantastic year for the Cougars softball team.  With a 0-9 loss to 12th ranked Washington and a 3-8 loss to Northwestern, the Cougars were eliminated from the NCAA Softball Tournament in the Regional rounds.  After beating Northwestern in the first game, Washington came out and destroyed the Cougars confidence.  The Cougars couldn't bounce back for the nightcap against Northwestern as they couldn't hold a lead and allowed the Wildcats to put an end to their season.

Overall the Cougars had another great year as they improved slightly over last year, ending with a record of 34-23.  Not only did they improve, but they won another league title as they took the WCC title in 2014.  With a 12-2 conference record, the Cougars made sure they didn't give the other teams a chance to catch them as they ended the regular season on a 15 game win streak.  They would tack on the one post season win to increase the streak to 16 before dropping the final two.

The season consisted of a number of big games and the team can boast wins against #2 ranked Tennessee and #2 ranked Oregon.  In the other games against ranked opponents the Cougars were unable to capitalize and ended up 2-7 against the top 25.  On the year the Cougars were able to come out with a 9-2 record against in state competition with losses to Utah and Weber State.

The future does look bright for the Cougars as they have a young team, but they will need to find a way to replace three senior starters on the offensive side, and one of their star pitchers in Tori Almond.  Almond led the team with a 2.14 ERA and ended with a 10-6 record.  Part of the blow will be softened with the return of freshman starter McKenna Bull.  Bull had 26 starts on the year and appeared in 43 games.  With a 3.04 ERA, she closed out her freshman season with a 16-9 record.  Bull was a strike out machine as she averaged over a strikeout per inning and finished with 191 strikeouts.

Look for the offense to continue to improve as they have freshman Sydney Broderick back after leading the team with a .365 batting average and 61 hits.  They will need to replace the offensive power shown by senior Katie Manama, who had 12 home runs and 49 RBIs.  Another freshman, McKenzie St. Claire will try to make up some of that as she had 34 RBI's this year and should only get better.

If this young team can use the bitter feelings of defeat to guide them to improvement, look for them to come out next year with another great season as they look to find themselves deep in post-season play.

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