#36 BYU Softball 2015 Preview

BYU Cougars

Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #1 West Coast
#36 BYU Softball 2015 Preview
BYU Team Page


The good news for BYU was it didn’t fall any further than the 10-win decline between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The Cougars still finished with 34 wins and a berth in the NCAA tournament, and the good news is they didn’t lose too much between last year and the current season. With the top six hitters and two of the top three pitchers returning, BYU is poised to have a breakout season in the West Coast Conference. Can BYU rebound to 40 wins or more and advance farther than the NCAA regional round? There is certainly enough talent to get the job done, but will the Cougars overcome other top teams out West to earn super-regional berths? They figure to have at least one celebration on the field midway through the year, as Gordon Eakin is 17 wins away from celebrating 500 as a head coach.

2014: 34-23, 12-2
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Gordon Eakin

Field Players:
Sydney Broderick (.360-6-31), a catcher/outfielder who led her team with 63 hits, is back as part of a loaded lineup that should pummel other West Coast foes. Outfielder/second baseman McKenzie St. Clair (.350-5-34) forms a 1-2 punch atop the lineup with Broderick as two sophomores who are poised to lead the Cougars for the next three seasons. Infielder Lauren Bell (.329) is also a sophomore who possesses limited power but definitely hits for average. Broderick and St. Clair combined for 11 homers, and the team hopes those two can hit more because leading homer hitter Katie Manuma has graduated. Outfielder Lacey Millett-Hofstedt anchors the team’s speed game, as she stole 11 bases last year and holds the career mark for steals at 48. Having Millett-Hofstedt around for one more season will help the Cougars adjust to a diminished power game.

With Tori Almond having graduated, sophomore McKenna Bull takes over as the No. 1 hurler. Bull went 16-9 with a 3.15 earned run average and 206 strikeouts. If Bull can cut down on her higher walk total of 88, she can be a totally dominant pitcher, but as it is she’s still pretty darn good. Sophomore Ashley Thompson also pitched last year, but she could be ticketed for infield duty following a 6.47 ERA and more walks than strikeouts last year. Madison Merrell (Queen Creek, Arizona) and Arianna Paulson (Payson, Arizona) are two first-year pitchers, and Paulson was a MaxPreps preseason All-American.

Who to Watch:
The team’s hitting performance comes back to Broderick and St. Clair, the two top hitters who will help guide BYU to further success in 2015. The Cougars need more power out of these two to offset Manuma’s 12 home runs from last season, and they also had 180 of the team’s total bases. Needless to say, if anything happened to either one it would be a big blow to BYU’s playoff hopes and any hopes the team has for a West Coast championship. Bull is also someone to definitely keep an eye on, as she will shoulder the burden of the pitching staff as Eakin guides the two new hurlers along.

Final Projection:
BYU’s non-conference schedule gives the team five tournaments and 20 games to get its feet wet. Cal Poly and Hawaii are among the top teams the Cougars will face in this stretch, and this will be good for them because the WCC figures to be fairly weak in competition. The Cougars went 16-2 in games played at Provo, Utah, which will help down the road if BYU is just as strong at home as it was a year ago. The Cougars should win the WCC and qualify for the NCAA tournament, but how well the team does depends on the pitching adjustments that were made and how well the team gets along without as many home runs as were hit a year ago.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Sydney Broderick, IF/OF, 175
Hits: Sydney Broderick, IF/OF, 63
Home Runs: Sydney Broderick, IF/OF, 6
RBIs: McKenzie St. Clair, IF/OF, 34
Runs: Sydney Broderick, IF/OF, 37
Stolen Bases: Lacey Millett-Hofstedt, OF, 11

Wins: McKenna Bull, P, 16
Innings Pitched: McKenna Bull, P, 173.1
Strikeouts: McKenna Bull, P, 206
Complete Games: McKenna Bull, P, 10


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