Welcome back to the WAC
Home runs and game-winning doubles? No big deal.
The BYU softball team rejoined the Western Athletic Conference and its inaugural game was full of stingy defense and packed with drama as the Cougars took out the defending conference champion New Mexico State Aggies 4-2 on the final play.
With a runner on second in the bottom of the seventh inning, walk-on sophomore Jenna Goar slapped a single to left field bringing home designated hitter Carly Duckworth with a walk-off double.
"We have kids with tremendous heart and tremendous fight," said BYU coach Gordon Eakin. "She (Goar) is right at the top of the list. She has the heart of a lion and obviously I had enough faith in her to put her in a clutch situation in the bottom of the seventh inning. I will give her credit, that was only her 35th at-bat of the year, and whether we ask her to help out offensively or defensively, she always comes through for us."
The Cougars jumped on the board early with a two-run home run by sophomore right fielder Delaney Willard in the bottom of the first inning. Third baseman Jessica Dugas reached on an infield hit to short and advanced to second following a groundout by JC Clayton. Moments later, Willard drilled a laser shot to left-center into the face of a stiff wind to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Pitcher Tori Almond held that lead until the fifth inning, when the Aggies knotted the score at two apiece. Almond found her way out of a bases-loaded jam, avoiding major damage, and finished out a complete-game four-hitter to go along with seven strikeouts.
The score remained tied until Goar's last-second heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
"I just tried to relax and see what happened," Goar said. "I was glad that we were able to pull through and get the win. I just prepare like I could go in at any moment and I just have that mindset that I need to get done what the team needs me to get done. Then I just try to relax and have fun and see what happens."
Friday night was the first of a three-game home stand between the Aggies (18-14 overall, 0-1 WAC) and the Cougars (17-8, 1-0). BYU has a 23-game home win streak that is second in the nation, trailing only Louisiana-Layfayette. They will put that win streak on the line today at 1:30 p.m. in a doubleheader at Gail Miller Field. The games will be broadcast on BYUtv.
New Mexico St. 000 020 0 -- 2 4 1
BYU 200 000 1 -- 3 4 3
WP, Almon, LP-Donisthopre. 2B-Goar (BYU. HR-Willard (BYU).