Easton Walker, BYU (BYU photo)

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Under The Radar: BYU Surging At The Right Time

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BYU is well on its way to restoring order.

The Cougars, believe it or not, have been one of the more consistent programs in the West the past few seasons. BYU captured 37 wins in 2016, but narrowly missed the NCAA tournament. It responded from that disappointment with a 38-win total and a postseason berth two seasons ago.

Then came last season happened. The Cougars entered the year with high hopes but deviated from the plan with an ugly 22-28 overall record with an 11-16 mark. Sure, head coach Mike Littlewood was disappointed with that finish, but he also couldn’t wait to turn the page to the 2019 campaign.

The Cougars were returning several key pieces both on the mound and at the plate this season, and he thought this club had a chance to be in the mix for the WCC title. To this point, not only do the Cougars look like a WCC title contender, they look like a team that could be a force to be reckoned with should they reach the NCAA tournament.

Littlewood is pleasantly surprised with what his team has accomplished this spring but believes there’s more in the tank with three important series coming up against San Diego, Pepperdine and Washington

“Our expectations coming into the year were to win our league. We knew we had a team that could challenge that if things went right,” Littlewood said. “Our pitching staff’s performance was expected. We have high expectations, but it’s a little surprising, and our pitching coach, Michael Bradshaw, does a terrific job.

“We got off to a start like this back in 2016, but we had three starting pitchers go down and totally lost confidence as a result,” he continued. “The foundation wasn’t truly there. Not that we couldn’t go .500 from here like that team, but this team feels much different from a cultural standpoint. It’s a great feeling right now.”

While the Cougars have done plenty of good things from an offensive standpoint, the big reason for their vault forward is the evolution of the pitching staff. As the Cougars struggled last season, they ended the year with a 4.48 ERA. Obviously not ideal. But this season? BYU’s ERA, despite playing in a hitter-friendly area, is much improved at a 3.19 mark.

 

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