EUGENE, Ore. -- Freshman catcher Shelbi Everett came through in a big way, hitting a walk-off double off the top of the wall in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring pinch-runner Carly Duckworth from second and giving BYU a 4-3 victory over Mississippi State in the first round of the NCAA Division I softball regionals in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday afternoon.
"She's been doing that for the past little while, she had some big hits in the conference tournament," said BYU coach Gordon Eakin of Everett's heroics. "For a freshman, getting her first-ever regional experience, that was big."
The Cougars advance to meet host and No. 11-ranked Oregon today at noon (MT) in the championship bracket of the regional. A win over the Ducks -- a team the Cougars beat 2-1 early in the year at a tournament in Arizona -- would send BYU into the championship game of the double-elimination tournament. A loss would put BYU in another game this evening against the winner of the Portland State-Mississippi State game for a right to meet Oregon in the championship on Saturday.
"Oregon presents its own set of challenges," Eakin said. "They are a very complete team. We'll have to play our best to have a chance to win, or even, really, to stay in the game."
BYU is in the regionals for the eighth straight year and has won its tournament opener for six straight years.
"It's a feeling of relief to win that first game," Eakin said. "We've been here for a long time, we're not in awe, we know this is just another softball game.
"We didn't play, maybe, the best we could, but there's just no quit in these kids. They just find a way to win."
BYU took a 3-0 lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second, with Tiffany Messerschmidt's two-run single that bounced over the head of a drawn-in third baseman being the big blow. The Bulldogs responded with three runs in the top of the fifth to tie the score.
Mississippi State threatened in the top of the seventh (the end of regulation), putting runners on first and second with nobody out. But the next Bulldog hit a line drive to third, where Ashlee Brawley made a nice catch and threw to Stacie Toney at second to catch the runner off there. Toney threw to Katie Manuma at first to complete a triple play, helping send the game into extra innings.
"Like I said, they just find a way to win. It's nice to be involved with a team that just will never say die," Eakin said.
It was BYU's 15th straight win, the third-longest win streak for the softball program. Twice in the past, the Cougars have won 16 straight.
Tori Almond got the win on the mound after three innings of relief. She improved to 19-3 on the season.
Jessica Dugas was 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI to lead BYU.