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BYU Roundup: Softball earns automatic NCAA bid to Tempe Regional

By Darnell Dickson daily Herald - | May 16, 2021

BYU (36-15) will compete in the Tempe Regional of the NCAA Women’s College World Series from Thursday to Saturday in Tempe, Arizona. The Cougars will open against Virginia Tech (33-13) while host Arizona State (32-14) will take on Southern Illinois (37-14) in the double-elimination setup.

The Cougars are making their 15th straight NCAA tournament appearance, not counting the 2020 season which was canceled due to the the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, BYU lost to Oklahoma State (3-1) and beat Arkansas (6-3) in the regional round before getting eliminated by Tulsa (6-4). The Cougars have advanced to the super regional round just once: In 2010 BYU won the Austin Regional but lost twice to Arizona in the next round.

The Cougars finished the 2021 season winning 25 of their final 27 games. With a 6-1 victory at Santa Clara on May 8, BYU clinched its 12th consecutive conference championship.

Oklahoma (45-2) earned the No. 1 seed and will host Morgan State, an automatic qualifier from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

The Southeastern Conference led all leagues with 12 teams selected to the championship tournament. The Pac-12 placed six teams in the tournament. Six teams are making their first appearance in the tournament: Clemson, Duke, George Washington, Morgan State, South Dakota State and Villanova.

Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, with the remaining 33 slots filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and will play at campus sites beginning this Thursday. Regional assignments were determined by geographic proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not placed in the same region.

Regionals will be held Thursday to Sunday on 16 campus sites. At each campus site, a four-team, double-elimination tournament will be conducted, and the 16 winning teams advance to the super regionals.

Super regions for the championship will be held May 27-30 on eight campus sites. At each site, two teams play in a best-of-three format. The winners from each super regional will advance to the NCAA Women’s College World Series from June 3-9 at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium-OG&E Energy Field in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In 2019, UCLA swept Oklahoma for their 12th championship.

Baseball takes two of three from Pacific

STOCKTON, Calif. — A four-hit shutout over 8.2 innings by BYU starter Bryce Robison led BYU baseball a 6-0 victory over Pacific at Klein Family Field on Saturday.

The Cougars scored six runs on 10 hits to win the WCC series 2-1. In addition to Robison’s performance on the mound, BYU got solid hitting on Saturday from Cole Gambill who went 2-4 with a home run and two RBI and Mitch McIntyre who also went 2-4 with a triple, a walk, two RBI and two runs scored.

“Everyone did their job tonight,” said BYU head coach Mike Littlewood. “We got solid hitting, played really good defensive and you can’t say enough about how Bryce pitched today. It shows how good pitching can neutralize good hitting when you have the command of multiple pitches. I’m really proud of the way the guys played the last two nights.”

Robison came within one out of a complete game, going 8.2 innings allowing just seven of the 32 Tigers he faced to reach base. The Cougar sophomore from Las Vegas threw 104 pitches in his longest outing of the year.

“I just tried to focus on one pitch at a time and before I knew it we were in the eighth inning,” said Robison. “I really felt good on the mound tonight and the guys scored runs early to give me a lead. Cole is really hot right now. It’s sure nice to have a guy on your team like that who is helping us score runs.”

BYU returns home for the final four games of the 2021 season. The Cougars will face rival Utah at Miller Park at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, before hosting Pepperdine Thursday through Saturday. The Thursday-Friday games are scheduled for 6 p.m., with the Saturday contest at 1 p.m.

Track finishes weekend with historic performances

Racing at the Sound Running Track Meet in Irvine, California, Whittni Orton’s time of 15:12.91 marks the seventh-fastest outdoor 5000m ran in NCAA history. The All-American shattered the previous school record of 15:38.12, set by Erica Birk-Jarvis in 2019, by more than 25 seconds. Along with claiming the top 5000m in the NCAA this season, the senior also ranks No 3 in the 1500m after breaking the school record earlier this season with a time of 4:09.31.

Racing late Friday night, Conner Mantz completed the 10,000m in an NCAA-leading 27:41.16. The 2020 cross country national champion came within 0.11 seconds of BYU head coach Ed Eyestone’s school record set back in 1985 (27:41.05). The duo’s times are both more than 13 seconds faster than the third-fastest time in program history.

All-American Courtney Wayment followed Orton with her own all-time performance in the women’s 5000m with a time of 15:17.58. The time marks the second-fastest time in the NCAA this year and in program history, just behind Orton. Wayment also made her way onto the NCAA all-time list as the ninth fastest women’s collegiate runner in the outdoor 5000m.

Olivia Hoj Simister recorded a career-best 4:10.90 in the women’s 1500m. The All-American’s time marks the second-fastest 1500m in program history and the fourth-fastest time in the nation this season. Teammates Kate Hunter and Simone Plourde also turned in strong performances in their heat of the 1500m with times of 4:15.88 and 4:16.06, respectively.

At the Cougar Invitational hosted at the Clarence F. Robison Track & Field Complex, Gretchen Hoekstre moved up to No. 2 on the BYU all-time list with a toss of 16.27m/53-4.5 in the women’s shot put.

Colten Yardley won the men’s 400m hurdles with a career-best 50.34, marking the sixth-fastest time in program history and the 15th-fastest time in the NCAA this season.

The Cougars will wait to find out which athletes qualify for the 2021 NCAA West Preliminaries. The meet will be held May 26-29 in College Station, Texas.

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