Friday’s 4-2 loss to No. 25 BYU was a microcosm of the season for the Oregon State softball team.
Walks to opposing batters and the failure to get timely hits were costly as the Beavers, facing a ranked opponent for the eighth straight game, dropped a nonconference decision to the Cougars at the OSU Softball Complex.
“They’re just not playing to their potential,” coach Laura Berg said after meeting with the players following the loss.
Oregon State (16-14) and BYU (22-10) will wrap up a short two-game series at noon on Saturday. The Beavers will then take on UNLV at around 2:30 p.m.
Free passes led to three of BYU’s four runs on Friday, including both in a two-run second that gave the Cougars, who lost 1-0 at Oregon on Thursday, the lead for good.
Oregon State outhit the Cougars, 6-5, and lost for the just the second time when having more hits than the opposition.
“It’s frustrating,” Berg said. “They know the mentality that they need to have, we obviously had that on Monday (a 5-4 comeback win at Arizona State), but to come out here against a team like BYU who is very good … and to play the way that we did is beyond me.
“If you’re a competitor, that doesn’t happen.”
The Beavers started well as they jumped on top in the first. McKenna Arriola drew a walk and was sacrificed to second by Jessica Garcia, then Shelby Weeks flared one to left that fell in for a single and Natalie Hampton walked to load the bases.
Alysha Everett followed with a liner to left that brought home Arriola. But two strikeouts ended the threat as the Beavers left the bases loaded.
In the second, the Cougars took advantage of four walks to get the game even at 1, then leadoff batter Rylee Jensen delivered a hard smash to shortstop that gave BYU a 2-1 lead.
Caitlyn Larsen Alldredge made it a 3-1 game in the top of the fourth when she belted a solo homer to right.
The Beavers looked to start a rally in the bottom of the frame when Lovie Lopez led off with a single up the middle. But Lopez was picked off to stall the threat.
The Cougars looked to increase their lead in the fifth as Lauren Bell opened the inning with a blooper to center that went for a double.
After Bell went to third on a groundout to second, Libby Sugg popped up a bunt to third baseman Sammi Noland, who fired to Arriola at third for the double play to keep it a 3-1 deficit for the Beavers.
Arriola gave the Beavers a spark to open the fifth with an infield single to short. But she was stranded as the 2-3-4 batters were unable to advance her.
The Cougars tacked on a run in the sixth on a double by Brielle Breland that drove in Larsen Alldredge, who reached on a two-out walk.
The Beavers got the leadoff batter on for a third straight inning when Everett walked to open the bottom of the sixth. But a fielder’s choice and a double play on a line out to left ended the threat.
Freshman Stephanie Merwin got the Beavers within 4-2 in the seven as she blasted the first home run of her career to left field.
The Beavers had the tying run at the plate, but McKenna Bull came on in to get the final out for her first save.
Nerissa Eason went the 6⅓ inning, allowing just four hits but walked seven – three scored — to go with one strikeout.
Arissa Paulson went 6⅔ innings for the Cougars, allowing six hits while walking five and striking out six.
Hampton remains one career RBI behind Tarrah Beyster’s school record of 143.
Berg hopes to see a change when the Beavers take the field on Saturday.
“After the butt-chewing they just got, hopefully they do change,” she said. “Maybe I have to, I don’t know, mix some things up, light some fires under some people’s butts.”