MAY 02, 2012 3:00 AM • JONATHAN BOLDT – HERALD CORRESPONENT
Ugly. Sloppy. Uninspired.
Those aren’t exactly the words that would typically be uttered by teh winning coach, but the BYU Cougars skipper Gordon Eakin wasn’t impressed with his squad’s performance Tuesday night. The Cougars pulled out a 3-1 win at Miller Field against county rival Utah Valley University, but it wasn’t what Eakin was hoping for as BYU prepares for WAC tournament play.
“Our defense was terrible,” Eakin said. “You don’t like to put it like that, but we did not play inspired today. I thought we were making progress and getting ready for the tournament, but we just went through the motions today.”
After back-to-back strikeouts for Hannah Howell to start off the first inning, Wolverines right fielder Amanda Robinson took Howell deep to right-center on the first pitch. The long-ball gave UVU a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.
“I was a little angry after that home run,” Howell said. “It gave me a little more fire and made me want to help my team out. I told the team they weren’t going to get another run.”
“They hit her (Howell) pretty hard,” Eakin said. “It wasn’t one of her best days, but our defense did make some plays to prevent any more runs from beings scored.”
JC Clayton led things off in the bottom of the fifth inning with a swinging bunt single to center field. Two batters later, Katie Manuma went deep with an opposite field blast to right field, putting the Cougars up 3-1. Those runs would prove to be the only ones needed to secure the victory.
As far as motivation goes, there is only one answer for the cure.
“Hopefully they’ll get it after I talk to them tonight,” Eakin said.” They need to play with some passion and fire if we want to get better. We had been playing pretty well lately, but tonight we just didn’t have it.”
“With all due respect to UVU, half their team was hurt,” Eakin added. “Their coach does a great job, but they were playing short-handed and we seemed to lose focus.”
The battle of the valley universities is on the verge of meaning a lot more than just bragging rights.
“It’s always been a rivalry,” eakin said. “In a good sense, though. Of course we both want to beat each other, but there is a great deal of respect between the two programs. The rivalry will heat up next year when we will play in the same conference.”
The win bumps the Cougars’ record up to 36-13 while the loss drops the Wolverines to 29-23-1.