The Cougars are rightly hungry to get to work in 2017, with nine returning starters and just two lettermen having graduated from last year’s 36-21 team. BYU was 12-3 in the West Coast Conference and made the NCAA Tournament, heading home after losses to Missouri and Nebraska.
The team’s top three hitters are back – senior Ashley Thompson (.400, 44 runs and 12 stolen bases), senior Lauren Bell (.373, WCC defensive player of the year at shortstop) and junior Alexa Strid (.328, all WCC first team). And sitting back ready to drive home all those baserunners is sophomore catcher Libby Sugg, whose dynamite freshman year included team-high totals of 18 home runs and 58 RBI.
More optimism for a postseason run comes from the pitching prowess of senior McKenna Bull, who was 27-13 last year with a solid 2.63 ERA. The WCC pitcher of the year had 10 shutouts. Head coach Gordon Eakin is entering his 15th year at BYU and has been named his conference’s coach of the year seven times.
NOTE: There are four pitchers on the roster looking to take some of the burden off McKenna Bull, as well as position themselves to take over after this year. Two of those pitchers are sisters – junior Arianna Paulson and freshman Arissa Paulson.