PROVO, Utah – Alexa Peterson and Kailee Cuico each homered as part of a four-run seventh inning, but the No. 2 ranked Oregon softball team fell just short, 6-5, at BYU on Tuesday evening.
The Ducks (27-4) scored five runs on nine hits but three errors allowed for all six BYU runs to score unearned. The Cougars (11-18) posted six runs on five hits and made one error.
Jasmine Smithson-Willett (3-1) took her first loss of the season after allowing six runs (none earned) on four hits in 1.2 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Karissa Hovinga kept the Ducks in it, as she gave up just one hit in 4.1 innings of relief with two strikeouts and no walks.
“Karissa did a really great job holding them down and gave us an opportunity to crawl back,” said head coach Mike White.
Down, 6-1, heading into the seventh inning, Oregon nearly pulled out a miraculous comeback.
Courtney Ceo started the seventh with a bunt single and moved to second when Alyssa Gillespie singled through the left side. Both runners advanced when Janie Takeda’s sharp grounder to first bounced off the first baseman but right at the second baseman, who threw her out.
With one out and runners at second and third, Alexa Peterson, who was named Pac-12 Player of the Week earlier in the day after posting 13 RBIs in a three-game series at Utah, crushed a 3-1 pitch deep over the fence in center to make it a 6-4 BYU advantage.
“Alexa is really confident right now, seeing the ball well,” White said. “She’s making great adjustments on the pitches she sees.”
The Cougars made a pitching change before Janelle Lindvall popped out to first for the second out.
That brought Kailee Cuico to the plate and she mashed a solo home run to left center to make it a one-run game. Koral Costa followed with a single to center to put the tying run at first but BYU forced a full-count strikeout to end the game.
Ceo’s run scored in the seventh gave her 154 in her career, matching Jill Robinson’s all-time Oregon career record.
BYU did all its damage early as the Ducks ran into trouble in the second inning.
Smithson-Willett gave up a double to start the inning, and after a fly out, a single put two runners on. A hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Ashlee Robinson, who hit one back at Smithson-Willett but the pitcher couldn’t make a clean play on the ball and an unearned run scored. A fielder’s choice was the second out of the inning and the bases remained loaded for Coco Tauali’i, who drew a walk to drive in another run.
Junior Lacey Millett Hofstedt, who did not have an extra base hit in 100+ previous games played at BYU, came up next and smacked a ball over the defense in right field and legged out an inside the park grand slam to score four more runs, all unearned.
“We had a few opportunities to make some defensive plays - tough plays - but we didn’t make them,” White said. “They capitalized on the mistakes we made.”
Lindvall put the Ducks on the board in the third with a RBI single but Oregon couldn’t manage another run until its seventh inning rally fell just short.
Oregon hosts No. 5 ranked Washington this weekend at Howe Field for its first three home games of the season.