Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fresno State wins, increases its lead in the MW title chase to 2 games

Fresno State remained the only Mountain West team to win every conference series it's played this season as the Bulldogs knocked off preseason conference title favorite San Diego State to claim the series two games to one Sunday.

The Bulldogs' win, combined with San Jose State's loss to Colorado State, moved Fresno State back to a 2-game lead in the race for the conference regular-season championship and automatic NCAA bid. The Bulldogs have a 2-game lead with nine games remaining.

It sets up a huge series next weekend in Boise as the Bulldogs take on Boise State, which suddenly finds itself in a virtual second-place tie with the Spartans.  The Broncos completed a 3-game sweep of error-prone Nevada in Reno, while Utah State moved out of last place with a series win in Albuquerque over New Mexico.

Fresno State 4, San Diego St. 2 - Pitcher Danielle East broke a 17-year-old record for most strikeouts ever in Mountain West play by a freshman in the Bulldogs' win over SDSU.  East struck out three, giving her 78 Ks in conference play and erasing the old record of 75, set in 2001 by then-New Mexico freshman Hayley Punter.  After falling behind 2-0, Fresno State got clutch hits and sharp defensive plays it needed to claim the series two games to one.  The Bulldogs have won all five of their conference series this season, and eight straight Mountain West series dating back to last season. Junior left fielder Kaitlyn Jennings, hitting in the No. 9 slot, proved to be the star at the plate for the 'Dogs.  Her 2-run single in the fourth gave Fresno State a 3-2 lead. She added a key insurance run in the sixth, notching another RBI single that came after a Dominique Jackson single. Jennings' 3 RBI day - all off San Diego State ace Alex Formby - proved to be the difference. Formby entered in the fourth in relief of starter Marissa Moreno, who was trying to hold a 2-0 lead.  East won her seventh game in conference play, and picked up her 15th win of the season. Her 15 wins tied Jill Compton (2013) as the most wins by a Fresno State freshman pitcher since 2008.

Colorado State 10, San Jose St. 3 - Alison Petty tossed a complete-game, and the Rams banged out 14 hits in a rout of the Spartans in Fort Collins.  SJSU, which has lost five of its past seven games, won the series two games to one, but was limited to just four hits by Petty.  That came on the heels of San Jose State scoring 31 runs in the first two games of the series.

Boise State 8, Nevada 4 - The Broncos took advantage of Nevada errors again to complete the 3-game sweep in Reno.  In the series, Nevada committed six errors that led to nine unearned Boise State runs, including three more Sunday. This was on the heels of two Wolf Pack errors in the eighth inning Saturday that led to four unearned runs that were the difference. Makenzie Sullivan hit a solo home run and Justene Molina and Rebekah Cervantes hit a pair of doubles each for the Broncos.  Three Boise State pitchers combined on a 7-hitter.

Utah State 5, New Mexico 1 - Kellie White won her sixth game of the season against 14 losses, pitching a 4-hitter to beat the Lobos in Albquerque. Bailey Lewis and Devan Sperry homered as USU had six hits in the game. New Mexico was unable to take advantage of six walks, leaving nine base runners stranded. White struck out 10.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mejia, Minogue pace Fresno State over Aztecs in front of 1,561 fans

Saturday around the Mountain West, Fresno State roared to an early lead and never looked back, San Jose State and Boise State broke open tight games late, and New Mexico took advantage of opponent's miscues to win.

Fresno State 5, San Diego St. 1 - In front of the largest crowd to watch a Mountain West game this season (1,561 humans and a large number of canines on Bark in the Park day), the Bulldogs rode the arm of sophomore pitcher Samantha Mejia, and the bat of junior infielder Rachel Minogue to victory over the Aztecs.  Mejia, the conference leader in ERA at 0.49 in league play, improved to a perfect 5-0.  Minogue hit a pair of doubles in her first two at-bats in the game, including a bases-loaded shot to deep left-center that made it 3-0.  She finished with four RBI, and Katie Castellon added another RBI double.  After a Friday night game where Fresno State looked uncharacteristically bad in a shocking home loss, the 'Dogs bounced back nicely and returned to form in winning for the 11th time in their last 12 games.

San Jose St. 11, Colorado St. 4 - In Fort Collins in a game that was delayed five hours from its original start time after morning snow fell, SJSU won for the second day in a row.  The game was tied 4-4 in the top of the fifth before the Spartans took the lead for good.  Three Rams errors played a key role as CSU fell to .500 (7-7) in league play.  The Spartans, who got a win in relief from Caroline Bowman, remained two games behind first-place Fresno State in the loss column in the MWC standings.  Colorado State faces an almost must-win game Sunday in the series finale, attempting to salvage a game and avoid falling more than four games off the pace in the Mountain West standings. Alison Petty took the loss for CSU.

Boise State 10, Nevada 6 (8 innings) - The Broncos are making a habit of playing close games and winning them, and it happened again in Reno.  Locked in a 6-all tie in the eighth, Nevada fell apart defensively with two huge errors that led to the four unearned runs that decided the game.  The teams traded defensive miscues, as Boise State errors led to Nevada's sixth inning uprising when three runs tied it.  Kali Sargent took the loss and Kelsey Broadus survived a tense bottom of the eighth to win it.  Nevada left the bases loaded in that eventful eighth inning, and the teams combined for six errors in the game.

New Mexico 8, Utah State 5 - In Albuquerque, errors decided this game as well as Utah State's season-long defensive problems continued. With the bases loaded and two outs in a 5-5 game in the bottom of the sixth, the Aggies committed two errors on the same play.  Instead of heading to the seventh inning still tied, all three runners scored on the miscues and it was suddenly an 8-5 game.  Freshman pitcher Delaney Hull struck out nine for Utah State, but was hamstrung by an Aggies defense that has now given up a conference-high 81 errors, including 36 in just 17 conference games. Jensen Main grabbed the win in relief for UNM and the Lobos have now won a game in each league series they've played. New Mexico goes for its first series win of 2018 on Sunday.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Aztecs hand Bulldogs their 1st run-rule home loss ever in MW play

Easter may have been a few weeks ago, but that didn't stop Fresno State from laying an egg Friday.

In a season of ups and downs and highs and lows, coach Linda Garza's Bulldogs played arguably their worst game of the 2018 season in falling 10-0 (five innings) to struggling San Diego State at Margie Wright Diamond.

It was the most lopsided margin in the history of a Fresno State-San Diego State series that dates back to 1981 and spans 78 games.  The Bulldogs have dominated the series, winning 64 of the 77 games before Friday.  Never had SDSU scored 10 runs in a game against the Bulldogs, nor had the Aztecs scored 10 runs in a game this season.

San Diego State was ranked last in the Mountain West in batting average, and the Aztecs had struggled all season before handing Fresno State its first home run-rule loss ever in conference play.  The Aztecs had won just five of their past 21 games overall this season, and starting pitcher Marissa Moreno entered the game with a 3-14 record.

Moreno pitched a complete-game 4-hitter, but the Bulldogs repeatedly had scoring chances yet were unable to come up with a big hit.  Fresno State stranded eight in five innings, leaving the bases loaded in the fifth, and runners at third base in each of the first three innings.

The tone for this one was set immediately as the game's first batter reached on an error by the Bulldogs' Schuylar Broussard.  Shelby Thompson followed with a home run off freshman pitcher Dani East and it was 2-0 Aztecs before fans settled into their seats. Those were the only runs Moreno would need against a listless Bulldogs offense that looked nothing like the team that entered on a 10-game winning streak.

The Bulldogs' lead in the Mountain West standings fell to one game (two in the loss column, and three if you consider the fact Fresno State owns the tiebreaker) over San Jose State.  The 'Dogs are now 10-3 in the MWC, while the Spartans are 10-5.  But Fresno State looked far more like the team that lumbered through a disappointing non-conference season tonight than it did against the team that pounded the Spartans in a 3-game road sweep last weekend.

This season alone, the Bulldogs have been run-ruled at home for the first time ever in conference play, lost by the widest margin in program history in a 78-game series vs. San Diego State, been run-ruled for the first time in program history in a 78-game series vs. Cal State Fullerton, been run-ruled for the first time in program history in a 61-game series vs. Cal State Northridge, and been shut out at home for the first time in program history by Colorado State, as well.

Not only was Friday's loss the first time Fresno State had been run-ruled and shut out at home in Mountain West play, but it was the first time it's happened to the Bulldogs in conference play ever.  In the 37 years the Bulldogs have been playing softball as an NCAA Division I sport, they'd never been run-ruled at home in conference play, regardless of which conference they were in.  All previous run-rule losses in conference play had taken place for Fresno State either on the road, or in postseason conference tournament play. And even then it was very rare.

To say there have been a lot of stinkers this season for the Bulldogs would be an understatement. Yet the team remains in first place in a conference where every team has had its share of ups and downs in a wild, wacky season.

Kelsey Munoz, who entered the day with one double for the entire season, had two for San Diego State.  Kiera Wright, who had three RBI for the year entering play Friday, had two RBI.  Savannah McHellon had two of the Bulldogs' four hits.

Boise State 6, Nevada 5 (9 innings) - In Reno, Alison Seng hit an RBI double in the top of the ninth to give the Broncos the road win. Nevada had a base runner at third base with no outs in the bottom of the eighth but was unable to score against eventual winning pitcher Micaela Leal.  Kali Sargent took the loss.

San Jose St. 20, Colorado St. 4 (5 innings) - In Fort Collins, it was all Spartans as coach Peter Turner's squad bounced back from its series sweep at the hands of Fresno State in a big way.  SJSU snapped a 4-game losing streak and broke open a 1-0 game in the third.  Desiree Rios and Brittany Abacherli hit grand slams in the third and fourth innings, respectively, to make this one a runaway.  Bridgette Hutton took the loss, while Madison Aurin grabbed the win.

Utah State 1, New Mexico 0 - In a matchup of the two teams at the bottom of the Mountain West standings in Albuquerque, Kellie White had a career-high 12 strikeouts and threw a complete-game 4-hitter. The game's only run scored on a Bailee Trapp RBI double in the sixth. Jensen Main, who ended up losing the game and allowing seven hits, had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the fourth. UNM has now lost 30 games this season. USU had lost eight of its past nine entering the game.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

10 wins in a row! Fresno State completes huge road sweep of SJSU

Fresno State has had some great softball teams over the years. And the 2018 version of Bulldog softball seems to be turning into one of those teams.

The Bulldogs absolutely dominated defending Mountain West champion San Jose State on the road in San Jose this weekend, completing a 3-game sweep with a 7-0 pummeling of the Spartans Sunday.

That gave coach Linda Garza's Bulldogs a 10-game winning streak as Fresno State remained one of the nation's hottest teams.  The Bulldogs haven't just been winning games; they've been dominating teams with outstanding pitching and superb, timely hitting.

That was the case again Sunday.  Over its past 48 innings of conference play, Fresno State has outscored the opposition 68-7.  During their current 10-game winning streak, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 85-14.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Danielle East continued to overpower Mountain West opponents, earning the win by allowing only three hits in 5 2/3 innings.  After a complete-game shutout on Friday, East finished the weekend with a 0.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts while giving up only five hits in 12 2/3 innings. She leads the MWC in strikeouts, now with 74 in 41 1/3 innings pitched in conference games.

Sophomore right-hander Samantha Mejia came on in relief and allowed just one single in the final 1 1/3 against a Spartans team that entered this series unbeaten at home (7-0) this season.  Mejia lowered her ERA in MWC play to 0.33 and has still yet to allow an extra-base hit in 21 1/3 innings pitched in conference play.

SJSU suffered only its second home sweep in Mountain West history, and both have come at the hands of the Bulldogs.  On its way to a 22-1 MWC finish in 2016, Fresno State also swept the Spartans in San Jose.

Somehow, this time it may have been even more dominant.  And it came against a SJSU squad that received 13 votes in this week's USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll to effectively rank 30th in the nation.

Fresno State outscored San Jose State 19-2 in the series, allowing just one earned run and - shockingly - only one extra-base hit for the entire weekend to the Spartans.

While East was mowing down SJSU batters Sunday, Vanessa Hernandez and Hayleigh Galvan were lighting up the scoreboard.  Hernandez, who surged into the Mountain West individual lead in RBI, got things started in the fourth with a 2-run, 2-out single that changed the complexion of the game.  It came after Galvan singled and Katie Castellon walked against Spartans starter Madison Aurin.

In the sixth, Savannah McHellon walked and Galvan followed with a deep home run to straight-away center field in a park that features fences estimated at 235 feet at the corners. One out later, Hernandez was back at it, with a solo home run to quickly make it a 5-0 game.

In the seventh, Galvan again came through with a clutch 2-run single that put the game out of reach, and sent Fresno State to its second consecutive Mountain West sweep.  Over the past two weekends, the Bulldogs are the only team to have swept a single series, let alone two.  Fresno State's 10 straight wins represents the longest winning streak of the Garza coaching era, and the longest by a MWC team since the Bulldogs' 23-game winning streak two seasons ago.

Fresno State moved to a commanding 3-game lead over the rest of the conference in the loss column in Mountain West play.  The Bulldogs are 10-2, and no other team has fewer than five conference losses.  Additionally, Fresno State already holds the tiebreaker over two of those teams with five losses - Colorado State and San Jose State - which makes it, effectively, a 4-game margin over both the Rams and Spartans.

The Bulldogs lowered their team ERA in conference games to 1.89 this weekend, on pace for the best Fresno State team ERA ever as a Mountain West member.  Not since Margie Wright's 2009 team have the Bulldogs finished with a conference ERA under 2.00.

Boise State 12, UNLV 11 (9 innings) - In Boise, the host Broncos won in dramatic fashion to avoid being swept at home by the Rebels and salvage a game in the 3-game series.  Makenzie Sullivan hit two home runs, including the game-winner on a 3-run, walk-off shot.  It came after UNLV twice took late leads, including an 11-8 margin heading to the bottom of the ninth.

Nevada 6, San Diego St. 3 - In San Diego, the Wolf Pack won the series two games to one with a come-from-behind effort. Nevada had three solo home runs, with Kenzi Goins hitting one, while two came from Kwynn Warner.  Amanda Geil picked up the win for the Pack, while Marissa Moreno took the loss for SDSU.

Colorado St. 6, Utah State 4 - In Logan, the visiting Rams won the series two games to one.  Kaylynn Pierce picked up the win in relief of Bridgette Hutton, as Pierce allowed two hits in 3.1 innings. CSU got a solo home run from Haley Donaldson, who finished with three hits. Lauren Buchanan had two doubles and two RBI.  Kellie White took the loss for Utah State.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Red-hot Bulldogs beat Spartans 8-2 for 9th straight victory

A couple of weeks ago, coach Linda Garza's Fresno State Bulldogs kicked things into another gear and, seemingly, can't be stopped.

One of the hottest teams in the country remained that way as Fresno State overpowered San Jose State 8-2 in San Jose Saturday for the Bulldogs' ninth straight win.

With the victory, Fresno State secured a series win over defending Mountain West champion SJSU, becoming the first MWC team this season to grab a series over the Spartans.  And in doing so on the road, the first-place Bulldogs moved two games ahead of San Jose State in the loss column in conference play.

This sets up what could be a momentous Sunday series finale.  With Boise State and Colorado State both falling Saturday, Fresno State has a chance to take a commanding 3-game lead over the rest of the Mountain West in the loss column in the conference standings with a win Sunday.  Not only would that complete a 3-game road sweep, but it would give the Bulldogs a double-digit winning streak for the second time in three seasons with a 10th victory in a row.

As its done throughout this 9-game winning streak, Fresno State dominated both in the pitching circle and at the plate.  Sophomore right-hander Samantha Mejia continued to surge at the right time, improving to 4-0 in Mountain West play this season.  Mejia, whose ERA is a stunning 0.35 in conference action, allowed five hits and just one earned run.

Mejia has yet to allow an extra-base hit in MWC play this season.  In her four wins, she's given up a total of just eight hits, all singles.  Meanwhile, Fresno State pounded out 11 hits against three SJSU pitchers and dealt Spartans hurler Caroline Bowman (12-2) just her second loss of the season and first at home.

Schuylar Broussard's 2-run triple in the top of the third put the Bulldogs on top and they never relinquished the lead.  Katie Castellon followed with a suicide squeeze to score Broussard and make it 3-0.  Dominique Jackson added a 2-out, RBI double in the fourth to extend the margin to 4-0.

In the fifth, Hayleigh Galvan's 2-out RBI double made it 5-0, and it was a 6-0 advantage after singles by Rachel Minogue and Vanessa Hernandez.  Minogue would finish the day reaching base safely in all four of her plate appearances, and getting two hits.  She was one of four Bulldogs to finish with a multi-hit game as Hernandez, Galvan and Jackson all had two hits as well.

Madison Aurin hit a 2-run single in the sixth, following a single, walk and Bulldog error, for the first Spartans runs of the series.  Fresno State would respond in the seventh though as Galvan hit a double, and Hernandez came up big with a 2-run double of her own to push the margin back to six runs.

Meanwhile, Mejia was doing work in the circle, allowing only one earned run (her first and only earned run allowed in 20 innings of MWC play).  The Bulldogs ensured that the visiting team would win the Fresno State-San Jose State series for a fifth straight season.  In each of the past two years, this series winner has gone on to claim the MWC regular-season title and automatic NCAA bid - a good omen for the Bulldogs.

UNLV 2, Boise State 1 - In Boise, the Rebels came up big when it mattered most for the second consecutive day, and handed the Broncos another heartbreaking loss.  Freshman Mia Trejo came up with a clutch, 2-out, 2-run single when UNLV was down to its last strike and trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh.  Charlie Masterson scattered five hits as the Broncos, the nation's second-best team in overall batting average, were stymied on offense at home for the second day in a row.  Kelsey Broadus scattered seven hits and took the loss.

Colorado State 3-6, Utah State 0-7 - In Logan, the Rams and Aggies split a doubleheader.  Bridgette Hutton threw a complete-game 3-hitter in the opener as Colorado State prevailed 3-0.  In the nightcap, CSU was staked to a 4-run lead before Utah State scored seven unanswered runs and ultimately won it 7-6.  Kellie White came on in relief in the seventh to pick up a well-earned save as Colorado State moved the potential tying run to third base with no outs.  White got a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts to end the Rams' threat, and grab the win.  It was just Utah State's second home win of the entire season.

San Diego St. 4, Nevada 1 - In San Diego, sophomore pitcher Marissa Moreno picked up her third win of the season in 16 decisions.  Moreno allowed five hits in 5 1/3 innings, and Alex Formby earned the save by escaping jams in each of the last two innings. Nevada left the bases loaded in the sixth, and two aboard in the seventh as the game ended with the potential tying run at bat.  The Wolf Pack stranded 10 and out-hit SDSU seven to five.  No Aztec had more than one hit in the contest, but Taylor Stewart had two RBI.  Amanda Geil (3-1) took the loss for the Pack.

Friday, April 13, 2018

First-place Fresno State wins 8th straight, shuts out Spartans

Photo: Daniel Casarez
Fresno State remained the hottest team in the Mountain West, winning its eighth consecutive game and moving atop the conference standings Friday behind another scintillating pitching effort from freshman Dani East.

The Bulldogs freshman left-hander, who's dominated opponents of late, was on top of her game again Friday, throwing a complete-game 2-hitter with 11 strikeouts in the Bulldogs' 4-0 road shut out over San Jose State in San Jose.

East, who leads the Mountain West in strikeouts in conference games, has now struck out 67 batters in 35 2/3 innings.  She's had double-digit strikeout performances in every conference start this season except against Utah State, when she was pulled following seven early Ks in a game where the Bulldogs were in front 14-0 after two innings.

During the Bulldogs' current 8-game winning streak, its longest since the school-record 23-game win streak of 2016, coach Linda Garza's squad has outscored opponents 70-12.  The Bulldogs moved percentage points ahead of San Jose State in the MWC standings.  Fresno State is 8-2 (.800), while SJSU dropped to 9-3 (.750) with its second straight loss.  Both the Bulldogs and Spartans now have 25 overall wins this season.

East gave up a single in the second inning, and a one-out double in the fourth, but didn't allow a hit to the Spartans over the final 3 2/3 innings in improving to 5-1 in conference play.

Fresno State, meanwhile, had eight hits against SJSU starter Madison Aurin and reliever Caroline Bowman, who gave up a pair of triples but no runs, over the final two innings.  The first three batters of the day reached against Aurin, and it was already 1-0 at that point when Savannah McHellon gave East the only run she'd need, with an RBI single.  Katie Castellon singled, and Miranda Rohleder walked before that.

Castellon would finish with a 3-hit afternoon.  Locked in a 1-0 game in the fourth inning, junior Vanessa Hernandez delivered the biggest blow of the game with a 2-run, bases-loaded double off Aurin to make it a 3-0 Bulldogs lead.  With the way East has been pitching lately, those three runs probably looked like 30 on the scoreboard to the Spartans.

Kaitlyn Jennings added a fourth run with an RBI single of her own.

In a series where the visiting team has ended up winning the series for four consecutive years, the visiting Bulldogs moved within a win of making that five straight seasons.

UNLV 1, Boise State 0 (8 innings) - In Boise, the visiting Rebels handed the Broncos perhaps their most heartbreaking loss of the season.  Boise State freshman pitcher Gianna Mancha lost her no-hit bid in the top of the eighth inning when Alyssa Navarro hit a solo home run that accounted for the game's only score.  Mancha would finish with a 2-hitter, albeit in a losing effort.  Meanwhile, Rebels pitcher Janine Petmecky worked through trouble a few times to earn the complete-game win.  Boise State had base runners at second and third base with just one out in the bottom of the seventh before Petmecky, who tossed a 6-hitter, escaped to force extra innings.

Nevada 10, San Diego St. 8 (8 innings) - In San Diego, the Aztecs were two outs from a win before Erika Hansen's RBI tied it in the seventh.  In the top of the eighth, Jennifer Purcell hit a pinch-hit, 2-run double on the first pitch she saw from eventual losing pitcher Alex Formby. Nevada was able to overcome five errors in a game where the teams combined for 30 hits, seven errors and 26 stranded base runners.  Kali Sargent picked up the win in relief.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fresno State has won 7 in a row as 'Dogs rout Utah State 15-1

Fresno State will enter next weekend's showdown with San Jose State playing perhaps its best ball ever under second-year head coach Linda Garza.

The Bulldogs won their seventh straight game Sunday, blasting Utah State 15-1 in five innings to complete a 3-game series sweep of the Aggies.  Danielle East allowed just two hits and continued her torrid mid-season run.  Hayleigh Galvan homered, Miranda Rohleder hit two doubles in the same inning, and the Bulldogs batted around in both of the first two innings while roaring to a commanding 14-0 lead and never looking back.

Fresno State has outscored its opponents 66-12 during the current winning streak.

Elsewhere, San Jose State split a doubleheader with Nevada; the Spartans won the opener 8-3 before the Wolf Pack responded with a 7-6 win in the nightcap.

San Jose State and Fresno State will face off next weekend at Mission College in San Jose with both teams having two conference losses.  While there is still another month to go in the regular season, that series will go a long way to determining the conference champion. The winner of that series will hold the inside track to the Mountain West championship and the automatic NCAA bid that goes along with it.

Also Sunday, UNLV salvaged game three of its series with San Diego State in a 3-2 victory, and Colorado State claimed a 2-1 series victory over New Mexico with a run-rule win in Fort Collins.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bulldogs beat Stanford 8-2 in Palo Alto to sweep season series

Behind the arm of freshman pitcher Danielle East and a heavy-hitting offense that produced 14 hits, Fresno State routed Stanford 8-2 in Palo Alto Tuesday in non-conference action.

Elsewhere, New Mexico bounced back from being no-hit by East and the Bulldogs Sunday by picking up a key road win.  UNM run-ruled rival New Mexico State 13-4 in Las Cruces, winning for the first time in four years in the Rio Grande Rivalry.  Boise State swept a pair in Pocatello from Idaho State, which fell to 5-25 on the season.  BYU (18-18 overall) edged Utah State 5-4 in Logan.  Colorado State rolled over Northern Colorado (18-14) in Greeley.  And UNLV came from behind to edge the Toreros of San Diego (21-16) on the road.

In Fresno State's win at Stanford (20-14), East improved to 2-0 against the Cardinal as a collegian.  Her first win of the 2018 season came on the opening Saturday in early February when she shut out Stanford 2-0.  She had another shutout intact Tuesday until a misjudged outfield ball went for a 2-out, 2-run triple and gave the Cardinal its lone runs in the bottom of the sixth.  East, named the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week earlier in the day, picked up her 10th win by allowing four hits.

The Bulldogs pounded out 14 hits, matching a season-high. Kaitlyn Jennings had her first career 3-hit game, while a quartet of Fresno State players - Hayleigh Galvan, Savannah McHellon, Miranda Rohleder and Katie Castellon - all had two hits.  Rachel Minogue had a 2-run single in the top of the first to get things going.

Galvan, the Mountain West leader in on-base percentage this season, ran her hitting streak to 16 games.  That moved the Bulldogs' sophomore catcher alone into seventh-place all-time in hitting streaks in program history.  Fresno State won for the first time on Stanford's home field since an NCAA Tournament win in 2007.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A game for the ages: Fresno State's East throws no-hitter, strikes out 15

Fresno State freshman pitcher Dani East had quite a week, and it culminated in one of the greatest pitching performances in Bulldog softball history Saturday in Albuquerque.

Just since last Sunday, East had a complete-game with 11 strikeouts and a complete-game with 13 strikeouts. But that was nothing compared to what she did Saturday.  East threw the 74th no-hitter in Fresno State history and the first of her career in a 10-0 (five innings) run-rule rout of New Mexico.

But that's only half the story.  East struck out the side in every inning of the no-hitter, as all 15 outs came via strikeout.  The Lobos did not put a ball in play during the entire game, and D'Andra DeFlora was the only UNM player to reach base in the contest.  DeFlora walked and was hit by a pitch, but that was it against the talented Bulldog freshman.

East became the fifth Fresno State pitcher over the past quarter-century to throw a no-hitter during her freshman season.  She joined Lindsay Parker (1996), Jamie Southern (2002), Robin Mackin (2006) and Jill Compton (2013) as the only Bulldogs to throw a no-hitter in their freshman seasons over the past 25+ years.  They all would go on to win conference Pitcher of the Year, All-Region, or All-American honors at some point in their Fresno State careers.

But East did them one better Saturday.  She became the first Fresno State pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter and record every out of the game by strikeout.  In such a storied program, that's a rare feat to enter the record books as a freshman.

East was on fire from the start. After getting a called third strike to begin the game, she got the next eight outs all on swinging strikeouts.  She finished with 12 swinging and three looking.  In Albuquerque, she struck out 28 batters in two games in just 11 2/3 innings of work as the Bulldogs won the last two games of this series by run rule.

Over her three career starts in Mountain West play, East is averaging more than two strikeouts per inning.  She's struck out 39 in just 18 2/3 innings.

Fresno State's offense was on fire for the second day in a row as the Bulldogs outscored UNM 24-4 Friday and Saturday.  Vanessa Hernandez homered for the second day in a row and third time in four games to finish with three RBI.  Hayleigh Galvan had a pair of hits, including a 2-run double, to stretch her hitting streak to 15 games.

Rachel Minogue continued a strong series with two more hits, while Miranda Rohleder and Dominique Jackson had two hits as well.

San Jose St. 8, UNLV 2 - The Spartans completed a 3-game sweep of the Rebels in San Jose as Madison Aurin went the distance for the win.  SJSU has won three in a row, while UNLV's losing streak has hit a season-high five.

Utah State 11, Nevada 10 - Amee Aarhus hit two home runs, including a walk-off, 3-run shot in the bottom of the seventh to propel the Aggies to a win that salvaged a game in the series.  Nevada scored four runs in the top of the seventh following Utah State's third error of the game.

Boise State 11, San Diego St. 1 (5 innings) - A night after late errors cost them a game when they were one out from a win, the Aztecs didn't have much left in the tank on Saturday.  The Broncos rolled to the win as Kelsey Broadus gave up three hits to win the series two games to one.  SDSU, the preseason conference favorite by Mountain West coaches, fell 5 1/2 games off the pace in the race for the league title, and sit alone in last place.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Bulldogs blast Lobos 14-4, Spartans win again over UNLV

The top four teams in the Mountain West standings all won on Friday as teams began to separate themselves in the conference standings.

Fresno State bounced back from a demoralizing defeat by blasting New Mexico, San Jose State knocked off UNLV for the second straight day, Nevada rolled past struggling Utah State, and Boise State handed San Diego State a heartbreaking loss.

Fresno State 14, New Mexico 4 (5 innings) - In Albuquerque, the Bulldogs spotted New Mexico an early 4-0 lead before scoring 14 unanswered runs to win in a run-rule rout.  Katie Castellon smashed two home runs and also hit a double, picking up hits in three consecutive innings from the third through the fifth.  Castellon finished with six RBI.  Vanessa Hernandez hit her second home run in a 6-day span, and added a 2-run double to finish with four RBI.  Savannah McHellon had a pair of hits and an RBI, and Hayleigh Galvan hit an RBI triple (her first of the season) as she ran her current hitting streak to 14 games.  Samantha Mejia improved to 2-0, going four innings without allowing a run.

Boise State 3, San Diego State 1 (8 innings) - The Aztecs were one out from a 1-0 win in the seventh inning when an error allowed Boise State to tie it.  In the eighth, SDSU committed an even more costly 3-base error on a dropped fly ball that led to the two game-winning runs.  All three BSU runs were unearned. Jessica McKay followed with a 2-out home run after the eighth inning miscue by SDSU.  Gianna Mancha limited San Diego State to one run as the Aztecs stranded 10 base runners.

Nevada 8, Utah State 1 - The Aggies remained winless at home in conference play, falling to 0-5.  Amanda Geil got the start and win for Nevada. Alyssa Mendez had two doubles and four RBI, while Kenzi Goins had three hits, including a pair of doubles and one RBI.  Kellie White, the only returning all-conference pitcher in the Mountain West this season, saw her record fall to 0-4 in league play and now has an ERA of 13.12.  Conference opponents are batting .494 against White this season.

San Jose State 6, UNLV 2 - The Rebels lost their fourth straight game and SJSU won its second in a row. Caroline Bowman improved to 12-1 in her freshman campaign with a 6-hitter.  Cassidy Clark had two singles and Georgia Blair two RBI to lead the Spartans.

Non-conference - Colorado State split a road doubleheader at Kansas, winning game one 8-6 in 12 innings behind a 184-pitch effort from Bridgette Hutton, who went the distance.  The Jayhawks won the nightcap 6-3.