Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rumor mill: Mountain West / C-USA to merge?


With two schools now departing the Mountain West Conference, it looks like the league could be set for a total merger with Conference USA.

C-USA and the Mountain West announced in October that it would be forming a football-only alliance between the two conferences, beginning perhaps as early as the 2012 season. But in the past few days and weeks, it appears as though the two conferences will be implementing a complete merger in all sports. Certainly the proposal is gaining steam in a major way.

Numerous reports now say that the Mountain West and Conference USA will become one super conference with two divisions. While Air Force (which doesn't play softball) appears to be remaining on the fence about whether to move to the Big East Conference, a lot of different scenarios are in play.

Many believe the Mountain West will be inviting Utah State to join the conference sooner rather than later. San Jose State remains in the mix to join the MW as well, especially if Air Force decides to bolt for the Big East.

In the sport of softball, a merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West could mean big gains for everyone. C-USA sent a record five teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, and four of those (regular season champion Tulsa, tournament champion East Carolina, Memphis and UAB) are remaining in the league.

Combine those four teams with the nation's only school to reach every NCAA softball tournament ever held -- Fresno State of the Mountain West -- and that would give the conference five teams that ranked in the Top 45 of last season's softball Ratings Percentage Index.

Suffice it to say that a C-USA/Mountain West merger would be a boon for the sport and create one of the nation's strongest softball conferences. In fact, only three other conferences (the Pac-10, SEC and Big 12) in the nation last season could boast as many as five softball teams in the RPI Top 45.

Last season, the final RPI rankings looked like this: Tulsa 27th, East Carolina 33rd, Fresno State 36th, UAB 38th and Memphis 44th.

If San Jose State and Utah State are added to the Mountain West, as many expect, the C-USA/MW merged conference could feature 14 schools who currently sponsor the sport of softball.

Two softball divisions would potentially house seven teams each and look like this, perhaps as early as the 2013 season:

WEST

Colorado State
Fresno State
Nevada
New Mexico
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State

EAST

Alabama-Birmingham
East Carolina
Marshall
Memphis
Southern Miss
Texas-El Paso
Tulsa

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Are Broncos, Aztecs leaving the Mountain West?

The conference realignment fiasco is far from over and could be just beginning again.

CBS Sports is reporting that Boise State and San Diego State will both announce tomorrow that they are departing the Mountain West in football for the Big East Conference beginning in the 2013-14 season.

What that could mean for each school's softball program is anyone's guess. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has already said publicly that Boise State would not be allowed to keep its non-football sports in the MW if it chooses to leave in football. One can assume that may be true for San Diego State as well, but no one knows for sure.

Numerous media reports in the past have indicated that any departures by the Broncos and Aztecs could create a domino effect. There have been indications that the Mountain West could invite Utah State and San Jose State, or others, from the Western Athletic Conference.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Future Mountain West teams announce signees



Fresno State and Nevada, both of whom are set to join the Mountain West Conference on July 1, 2012, recently announced their 2012-13 softball signing classes, which contain some notable standouts.

Perennial national power Fresno State, the only team in the country to qualify for all 30 NCAA softball tournament championships, announced a 6-member class. Nevada, which has advanced to the NCAA tournament three times in the past six seasons, announced a 4-member class.

The 10 combined athletes will be a part of both programs when they debut in Mountain West softball play in February 2013.

Coach Margie Wright's list of Bulldogs signees includes three pitchers (Jillian Compton, Hannah Harris, and Taylor Langdon) who also play infield, a catcher/infielder (Paige Gumz), an infielder/outfielder (Whitney Smith) and an outfielder (Bria Kennedy).

Coach Matt Meuchel's list of Wolf Pack signees includes three infielders (Hannah Harger, Jasmine Jenkins, and Amanda Weis), along with an outfielder (Danielle Wiltz).

Compton was named San Luis Obispo County and Pac-7 Conference Player of the Year after finishing with a 1.39 ERA as a junior at Arroyo Grande High School. She pitched a perfect game with 14 strikeouts in a playoff opener last season, and struck out 198 batters in 115.2 innings. Compton was named to the All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF state first team (Division 3), and ESPN RISE All-state underclassmen second team after leading her team to a conference title for the first time in 11 seasons.

Gumz has been the starting catcher for three years at Chino Hills High School and has earned first team all-conference honors the past two seasons. A defensive standout, Gumz led her 2011 Chino Hills team to a 25-6 overall mark and a Sierra Conference championship that culminated in a run to the CIF Division 3 semifinals. Gumz hit .392 with a .456 slugging percentage, and played error-free ball at the catcher position last season, completing a perfect year defensively in 174 chances. She also allowed just one baserunner to steal a bag a season ago.

Harris is a dominant pitcher who earned first team All-CIF state honors after leading her Dos Pueblos High School team to a coveted CIF Southern Section championship title in 2011. She was named California's Division 4 Pitcher of the Year after allowing just one run in 45 playoff innings and pitching a 5-0 shutout with 10 strikeouts in the championship game win. Harris won 22 games last season, had a better than 10-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and finished with a 1.03 overall ERA that improved to 0.39 in playoff games. She was named to the All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF state first team (Division 4), ESPN RISE All-state first team overall, and ESPN RISE All-state underclassmen first team.

Kennedy has been named first team All-West Yosemite League the past two seasons at Hanford West High School, which advanced to the CIF Central Section semifinals in 2011 after winning the section title the previous two years. Kennedy hit .404 overall as a sophomore and had a .500 slugging percentage as a junior with 56 RBI over the past two seasons. She has twice been named to the Fresno Bee All-Stars second team.

Langdon earned first team All-Baseline League and San Gabriel Valley Tribune all-area honors as a junior at Glendora High School. She earned scholar athlete honors and was varsity softball captain for Glendora, which advanced to the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Smith was named first team All-Sierra Foothill Conference after leading her Del Oro High School team to the league championship title in 2011. She hit .364 as a junior and finished with a batting average of .350 or higher for a third consecutive season. The team captain, Smith finished with a .636 slugging percentage after nearly 50 percent of her hits went for extra bases. She tied for the conference lead in RBI, while ranking second in home runs and slugging percentage for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section runners-up.

Harger played alongside Kennedy at Hanford West High School, and hit .345 as a junior with a .412 on-base percentage. She scored 31 runs to earn All-WYL honors for a second straight season. Harger was named honorable mention on The Fresno Bee All-Stars team.

Jenkins is a shortstop at Irvine High School, where she has earned all-league and all-city honors each of her three seasons. Known for standout defensive play, she led her high school team to a 22-8 overall record as a junior.

Weis led her Redlands High School team to a conference championship in 2011, batting .387 overall with an impressive .827 slugging percentage. The Terriers finished 21-6 on the season as Weis scored 19 runs and added 25 RBI. At Redlands, she holds the single-season and career home run marks, and last season earned first-team all-league and all-county honors.

Wiltz plays at perennial softball power Sheldon High School in Sacramento, where she ranked second on her squad with a .414 batting average in 2011. She is a three-time, all-conference selection and had 46 hits in 33 games as a junior. With Sheldon being one of the most respected softball programs in the country, Wiltz had two other teammates who signed NCAA Division I letters of intent, including one with defending national champion Arizona State.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big East dilemma: What will Boise State do?

Numerous sources, including ESPN.com, are now reporting the possibility of a football merger involving the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and Big East Conference that could forever change the face of college athletics.

Commissioners of the three conferences are reportedly set to meet tomorrow in New York to discuss the possibility of forming a 28- to 32-member conference for football only.  The key in all of this could be Boise State, which carries the distinction of being the country's biggest college football power outside of the major conferences.  Thus, the Broncos may have the most leverage of all in negotiations.

With recent talk of Boise State perhaps leaving the Mountain West to join the Big East in football only, the biggest remaining question is this:  Where would the Broncos' other sports go?

Would Boise State's other sports return to the Western Athletic Conference, which it just left a few months ago?  Would the Broncos' other sports return to the Big Sky Conference that they competed in over a decade ago?  Where would the Broncos' up and coming softball program go?  Will the Broncos choose to remain in the MW in all sports, but still join the 3-conference consortium that we're tentatively calling the "Big Mountain USA?"

These are just a few of the numerous questions that will be answered in the coming days and weeks.  It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.  As ESPN.com asks, if Boise State decides to join the Big East in football and attempts to return its sports to the WAC, will the WAC then lose Utah State to the Mountain West?

The list of scenarios seems unending, and nothing seems a sure bet at this point.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE: ESPN.com is now reporting that Boise State officials have been in contact with the Big West Conference about possibly moving its non-football sports to that league.  The Broncos competed in the Big West from 1996 to 2001 before moving to the WAC.  Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has said Boise State would not be allowed to keep its other sports (including softball) under the MW umbrella should the school decide to take its football program to a different conference. Again, stay tuned...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Broncos in; Utes, Cougars out of Mountain West


It's now official. Boise State is a member of the Mountain West Conference as of today in all sports.

Coinciding with the Broncos' arrival today is the departure of Utah and BYU. Both are gone, leaving the Mountain West with the following softball teams for the 2012 season: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV.

Boise State brings with it a softball program on the rise after just three seasons fielding the sport at the NCAA Division I level. The Broncos finished 79th in the Ratings Percentage Index last season, which would have ranked third-best among MW softball teams.

And on the horizon are two schools that will join the Mountain West officially one year from today: Fresno State and Nevada. The Bulldogs, in particular, will bring with them one of the most storied programs in college softball history.

Fresno State is the nation's only school to have advanced to all 30 NCAA softball tournaments. The Bulldogs own an NCAA softball championship (1998), 12 appearances at the Women's College World Series, and have appeared in at least one national Top 25 poll every year for the past three decades.

Nevada made three straight NCAA softball tournament appearances from 2007 to 2009. Beginning with the 2013 season, the Mountain West will rank behind only the Pac-12 among western softball conferences in terms of overall toughness and will consist of: Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Boise State joins Mountain West in two weeks


Two weeks from tomorrow, the Boise State Broncos officially depart the WAC and join the Mountain West Conference.

Boise State softball has been on a quick rise to the top in its three years as a member of NCAA Division I softball. The Broncos finished tied for second place in the WAC with perennial power Fresno State this season.

Boise State went 33-20 in 2011 and has improved its win total each year of the program's existence. The Broncos went 29-32 in the 2009 season after an inaugural campaign where they went 22-30 in 2008.

In the RPI, Boise State's rise has been rapid as well. The Broncos finished 79th in the RPI in 2011, which would have ranked third-best among Mountain West teams, behind only NCAA Tournament entrants BYU and San Diego State. Boise State had never finished in the Top 100 of the softball RPI until this past season.

Coach Erin Thorpe is expected to return her entire team in the 2012 season, making Boise State an instant threat to compete for the Mountain West title. The Broncos will be an upperclassmen-dominated team with as many as six returning senior starters. Expected to return are All-WAC sophomore Devon Bridges, senior All-WAC pitchers Aubray Zell and Allie Crump, and second team All-WAC position players Christina Capobianco and Tazz Weatherly. Also returning: All-WAC Tournament pick Lela Work.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mountain West unveils new logo, branding


The Mountain West Conference unveiled its new logo today as the league moves forward with a new identity in adding teams from the Western Athletic Conference.

Boise State moves from the WAC to the Mountain West at the end of this month. Fresno State and Nevada will depart the WAC for the Mountain West next year in all sports, while Hawai'i is leaving the WAC in all sports next year, but will join the MWC in football only.

In the sport of softball, the Mountain West in the 2012-13 season will consist of Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

BYU clinches MWC's automatic NCAA bid

BYU clinched the Mountain West Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament Saturday with a home doubleheader sweep over Utah.

They were the final games the Cougars will play as a member of the Mountain West in the sport of softball. BYU moves to the WAC, beginning in the 2012 season.

While the Cougars grabbed the automatic bid, third-place San Diego State hopes for an at-large bid to come this evening when the NCAA Selection Show is televised on ESPNU, beginning at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

The Aztecs were 39th in the final regular season RPI, one spot better than BYU.

Friday, May 6, 2011

RPI news: Aztecs 36th, Cougars 39th

The latest Ratings Percentage Index is out and both San Diego State and BYU are in line to reach the NCAA Tournament barring some unforeseen circumstances.

The Aztecs are 36th and the Cougars 39th with Selection Sunday just over a week away. With no postseason conference tournament to muddle things, San Diego State and BYU are in good shape to reach the NCAA Tournament again this season.

Here's the breakdown of where each MWC team stands in the RPI:

36 San Diego State
39 Brigham Young
80 Utah
103 New Mexico
112 UNLV
218 Colorado State

Other teams in the West considered locks for the NCAA Tournament: Cal (RPI of 4), Arizona State (6), Arizona (8), Washington (11), Stanford (15), UCLA (17), Oregon (20), Long Beach State (30) and future MWC member Fresno State (32). The Bulldogs have defeated both BYU and San Diego State head-to-head this season.

Possible bubble teams include Pacific (46) and Hawai'i (57).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Results from Thursday, April 28

In a showdown between the top two Mountain West teams according to the RPI, Brigham Young broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning and held off San Diego State 4-2 in Provo. Also Thursday, UNLV picked up a road win over Utah, defeating the Utes 8-4.

It's been a difficult week for Utah, which not only fell out of a first-place tie in the MWC standings, but also suffered a 12-2 (five innings) loss on Tuesday to Utah State of the WAC.

BYU holds a 1-game lead over the Utes and a game and a half lead over the Aztecs in the conference standings. In the aforementioned RPI, the Cougars were 43rd, while San Diego State was 37th entering the week. Utah was No. 76, followed by New Mexico (99), UNLV (114) and Colorado State (211).

The Rams' ratings is their worst since the inception of the RPI as a tool in the sport of softball. Last season, Colorado State finished 90th.

Monday, April 25, 2011

MWC update for April 25, 2011


In action involving Mountain West Conference teams last week, BYU went 4-0, including 3-0 in conference games and outscored its opponents 41-6. Utah went 3-0, all in MWC games, outscoring its opponents 35-13. San Diego State was also unbeaten, winning its only league contest in a 4-0 win over UNLV.

New Mexico went 0-4 (0-3 in the conference) and was outscored 37-12. UNLV lost its only contest to San Diego State. And Colorado State's struggles continued as the Rams went 0-3 and were outscored 38-4. Colorado State's 7-36 record and 0-8 start in MWC are both the worst starts in school history.

BYU def. Colorado State 8-0 (5) and 15-0 (5)
San Diego State def. UNLV 4-0
Utah def. New Mexico 12-9 and 8-0
BYU def. New Mexico 11-3 (6)
Utah def. Colorado State 15-4 (6)
BYU def. Utah Valley 7-3
New Mexico State def. New Mexico 6-0

Monday, April 18, 2011

Checking in on the early MWC standings

There is basically a 3-way tie for first place in the Mountain West at the moment between BYU, San Diego State and Utah.

The Aztecs are 4-2 after splitting a pair with the Cougars last weekend. Utah and BYU are both 2-1 and have had rainouts in conference play, resulting in fewer games played.

New Mexico (3-2) is alone in fourth place, ahead of UNLV (3-3) and Colorado State, which remains winless at 0-5.

In the latest RPI rankings released last week, San Diego State tops the MWC at No. 40, followed by BYU at No. 50.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MWC play begins this week

The Mountain West Conference becomes the final league in the nation to begin conference play with three series this week. This week's series:

Brigham Young at Utah

UNLV at Colorado State

San Diego State at New Mexico

In the most recent Top 25 polls out today, San Diego State and BYU are receiving votes. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the Aztecs received three votes to rank 31st. The Cougars received one vote to tie for the No. 32 spot. In the NFCA/USA Today poll, no Mountain West teams received votes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend wrap: MWC teams hold steady

Teams held steady as few games were played around the Mountain West Conference this weekend, but there was an eye-popping result Sunday. Rain affected games at the Stanford Invitational (San Diego State) and Mustang Classic (UNLV) and other teams played light schedules as we get closer to the beginning of conference play. UNLV defeated Fairfield and lost a pair of games to No. 15 Oregon in San Luis Obispo. The Rebels play a game with reeling Cal Poly (3-21) later Sunday. San Diego State today picked up two big wins, including a key road win at Stanford. The Aztecs went extra innings to knock off the 13th ranked Cardinal 3-2. Sam Beasley came on in relief to pick up the win over Teagan Gerhart. In addtion to that victory, San Diego State picked up another one that is much better than it probably looks on paper. The Aztecs won an 8-0 run-rule decision over Pacific, is now 18-11 overall. San Diego State has currently won six straight games. Colorado State's struggles continued. The Rams split a doubleheader against Northern Colorado, which entered the weekend just 2-22 overall. BYU, Utah and New Mexico were all idle this weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend wrap: BYU climbs over .500 with wins

Brigham Young capped its best weekend of the season by winning the Spring Fling tournament in Hawai'i, upsetting a pair of ranked opponents along the way.

BYU knocked off host Hawai'i (ranked 16th and 20th in the major polls) twice before beating No. 9/10 California for the tourney crown. In other tourney games, the Cougars knocked off Cleveland State and Iona but fell to Cal in a round-robin game prior to the championship game.

BYU has a winning overall record for the first time since the season began, moving to 15-14 on the year.

Elsewhere, San Diego State finally evened its overall record at 15-15 following a good weekend in another home tournament. New Mexico struggled at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, UNLV experienced a rain-filled weekend at Stanford, and Colorado State's season-long struggles continued.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend results around the Mountain West


It was another mixed bag of results among Mountain West Conference softball teams this past weekend. San Diego State and Brigham Young continued their incredibly tough schedules. New Mexico played highly-ranked Washington tough in an extra-inning game, UNLV had its best weekend of the year, Utah got a couple of wins in tourney action, and Colorado State continued to struggle.

Brigham Young
The Cougars went 1-4 at the Campbell-Cartier Classic hosted by San Diego State with their lone win a 5-0 victory Saturday over Cal Poly. The competition was stiff, including three Top 25 opponents and another that could jump into the national rankings this week following an impressive weekend. No. 25 Houston beat BYU 4-0 Thursday morning and the Cougars fell to Long Beach State 1-0 later that afternoon. On Friday, BYU lost a pair of games to ranked teams, falling to No. 23 Fresno State 7-3 and to No. 6 UCLA 5-2.

San Diego State

The weekend started off very strong with a pair of victories Thursday for the Aztecs in their Campbell-Cartier Classic. Bailey Micetich picked up a 3-0 win over Long Beach State and its star freshman pitcher, Erin Jones-Wesley. Samantha Beasley then got an impressive win as San Diego State routed No. 23/25 Houston 6-0. Cougars pitcher Donna Bourgeois took the loss. Friday night, the Aztecs suffered a 2-1 loss at home to its longtime nemesis, No. 23 Fresno State. The Bulldogs, who ended the season of San Diego State in NCAA regional action last year, beat the Aztecs for the 53rd time in 62 all-time meetings. Following the loss to Fresno State, the Aztecs faced defending national champion UCLA. The 6th-ranked Bruins were able to escape with a 3-1 win. And on Sunday, San Diego State couldn't hold a 1-0 lead, giving up two runs in the sixth inning of a surprising 2-1 loss to struggling Cal Poly. The Mustangs were just the second unranked team to grab a win over San Diego State this season.

UNLV

Following a shocking 8-5 loss to the USD Toreros in the Eller Media Stadium Classic opener on Friday, the Rebels bounced back for four straight wins. UNLV took down Troy 3-2, Bradley 7-1, Kansas 10-1 (five innings), and San Jose State 3-2 (eight innings).

New Mexico

The Lobos pushed No. 5 Washington to extra innings in a 7-4 loss Saturday before being run-ruled by the Huskies twice in the 3-game series in Albuquerque. Washington won the final two games (each in six innings) by 11-2 and 12-3 scores.

Utah

The Utes were in Tallahassee and went 2-2, splitting two-game series with both Florida State and Wisconsin. The 5-4 win over the Seminoles is a quality victory considering FSU was ranked to begin the season before falling out of the polls.

Colorado State

The Rams continued to have a difficult start to the season, hosting their own Colorado State Classic. Things didn't go well and CSU finished 1-4 despite a weak slate of opponents. The Rams were run-ruled 19-5 (five innings) by Northern Illinois, fell 13-10 to Santa Clara, lost 12-9 to Sacred Heart and dropped a 16-5 (five innings) game to Northern Illinois. The weekend ended with CSU's lone win, a 9-4 decision over Santa Clara.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

BYU, San Diego State both fall to Fresno State


A pair of Mountain West Conference teams -- Brigham Young and San Diego State -- both took it on the chin Friday in games against the 23rd-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs.

At the Campbell-Cartier Classic in San Diego, Fresno State used a 6-run fourth inning to break things open in a 7-3 win over BYU, and then got some fine pitching to knock off San Diego State 2-1 on the Aztecs' home field.

BYU also lost to UCLA 5-2 on Friday, while San Diego State played its only game of the day against the Bulldogs. The Cougars and Aztecs have played brutal non-conference schedules thus far. BYU has faced 10 different Top 25 teams already, while San Diego State has faced eight.

Fresno State improved to 8-1 with the sweep of BYU and San Diego State. The Bulldogs' last six wins in a row have come over teams that reached the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Bulldogs shortstop Haley Gilleland went 5-for-6 with a double, two RBI, two runs and two stolen bases, and reached base seven times in eight at-bats versus Mountain West pitching Friday. Pitchers Michelle Moses (3-1) and Mackenzie Oakes (5-0) picked up the wins against BYU and San Diego State, respectively. Tori Almond (1-2) took the loss for the Cougars, while Aztecs pitcher Lorena Klopp (1-1) suffered the loss for her team. San Diego State had won its first two games in the Classic Thursday, including a win over No. 23/25 Houston.

In a bit of irony, both the Cougars and Aztecs will be conference opponents of Fresno State in the near future. Next year, BYU will compete as a member of the WAC, in which the Bulldogs compete. Fresno State, beginning July 1, 2012, will become a full member of the MWC and will play its first full softball season as a Mountain West member in the 2013 season.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mountain West weekend in review

It wasn't a great weekend for the Mountain West Conference, but a huge factor was the high level of competition, particularly for Brigham Young, San Diego State and Utah, all of whom competed at the prestigious Cathedral City Classic.

Marquee opponents, ranked competition and high-caliber games were the rule of the weekend in Cathedral City and many national powers had trouble. The 34-team tournament included seven of the eight teams that reached Oklahoma City last year, 10 of the 16 Super Regional teams and 24 teams that advanced to last season's NCAA Tournament.

Brigham Young
The Cougars went 1-4 in Cathedral City, defeating Ohio State 5-1 for their only win. BYU came up on the short end of games against Florida State (6-4), Virginia (9-3), No. 18 Nebraska (4-3) and No. 8 Tennessee (4-1).

San Diego State
The Aztecs' brutal schedule continued and they went 1-4 in Cathedral City, defeating Florida State in an impressive 10-2 (five innings) win. San Diego State's losses came to Morgan Melloh and Indiana (3-2 in eight innings), No. 8 Tennessee (11-3 in six innings), No. 4 Florida (4-2) and No. 1 Arizona (5-0).

Utah
The Utes went 1-5 in Cathedral City, with the lone win coming via run rule (10-0 in five innings over Nevada). Utah fell to Virginia (4-2), Long Beach State (5-1 in eight innings), Syracuse (4-3 in eight innings), No. 4 Florida (7-3) and UC Santa Barbara (4-2).

New Mexico
The Lobos went 3-0 against Northern Colorado. UNM beat the Bears in a 3-game series by scores of 11-3 (six innings), 11-8 and 1-0 (eight innings).

UNLV
The Rebels went 2-1 at the rain-shortened Amy S. Harrison Classic in Riverside. UNLV beat Boise State 9-0 and UC Riverside 10-2, but fell to Cal State Northridge 4-3.

Colorado State
The Rams went 1-4 against a competitive slate at the Stanford Nike Invitational. Colorado State defeated UC Davis 11-6 for its only win of the weekend. The Rams fell 7-0 to Kentucky, 11-3 in six innings to North Dakota State, 16-2 (five innings) to Stanford and 4-3 in eight innings to Memphis.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend results around the Mountain West

It was not the best weekend ever for softball teams in the Mountain West Conference as the league went just 9-18 overall.

Brigham Young (6-4)
The Cougars moved to 6-4 on the season after a weekend at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas. BYU defeated SIU-Edwardsville 10-5, edged struggling Cal Poly 8-6, withstood a 6-run seventh inning by Boise State in a 12-11 win, and run-ruled Cal State Northridge. BYU lost its only game of the weekend against a ranked opponent, falling 7-4 to No. 19 Stanford.

Colorado State (2-7)
The Rams went 0-5 on a tough weekend at the Texas Invitational in Austin. Colorado State fell twice in run-rule decisions to host Texas (12-4 in six innings and 8-0 in five innings). The Rams also were beaten twice by Wisconsin (5-1 and 7-6) and lost to Missouri State (8-2). Coach Jen Fisher's squad has lost six consecutive games.

San Diego State (6-3)
It turned out to be a disappointing weekend hosting a rainy San Diego Classic I for the Aztecs. After moving into the national rankings last week, San Diego State could find itself out of the ESPN.com Top 25 as early as Tuesday. The Aztecs went 1-2 this weekend, falling to Missouri 9-1 in a five inning run-rule game and losing to Washington 6-3 today. San Diego State committed six errors in the loss to the Huskies. The Aztecs' one win this week was a 4-2 victory over Sacramento State.

New Mexico (3-3)
The Lobos were swept in a 3-game series at Baylor this weekend. The Bears are 8-0 on the season and New Mexico kept each game relatively close so that's an improvement for the program. Baylor won the three games by scores of 7-2, 4-0 and 3-1.

UNLV (4-5)
The Rebels went 2-3 in their own Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, but did it the unconventional way. UNLV upset a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents, beating Tennessee 4-3 and Arkansas 3-2 in eight innings. But the Rebels suffered frustrating losses in games they were probably expecting to win: 9-6 to in-state rival Nevada, 1-0 to SIU-Edwardsville and 14-9 to Utah State.

Utah (5-6)
Few teams suffered the types of heartbreaking losses the Utes endured this weekend in Las Vegas. Utah took big leads into the late innings against No. 14 Oregon and No. 9 Hawai'i, only to lose them both in their final at-bats. The Utes led the Wahine 6-1 before falling 8-7, and led Oregon 5-3 heading to the seventh inning before giving up the game's final five runs. In an 8-4 loss in eight innings to Arkansas, the Utes scored three in the seventh to force extra innings, only to give up four runs in the eighth. The team did pick up a pair of victories, defeating Boise State 12-8 and Long Beach State 3-2.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

San Diego State splits, BYU wins, UNLV falls

San Diego State split a pair of games, Brigham Young won its only game, and UNLV lost at home as the Mountain West Conference went 2-2 in action Thursday.

The Aztecs opened play in the San Diego Classic I, one of two tourneys they co-host this season with the University of San Diego. Things started out fine, but ended with a painful loss for San Diego State.

The Aztecs suffered a lopsided loss to a Top 10 ranked team for the second time in four days, falling 9-1 in a five inning, run rule affair to #8/10 Missouri. The loss came 48 hours after San Diego State had achieved its first national ranking of the season. The Aztecs entered the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll Tuesday at No. 22. Prior to the loss to Missouri, San Diego State defeated Sacramento State 4-2. Twice in the seventh inning, the Hornets brought the tying run to the plate, but were held off.

Meanwhile, BYU and UNLV were opening play in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas. The Cougars, ranked 23rd by the NFCA, came from a 3-run deficit to knock off SIU-Edwardsville 10-5. The host Rebels tried to come from eight runs down against rival Nevada, but couldn't claw all the way back. The Wolf Pack defeated UNLV 9-6.

Mountain West releases 2011 TV schedule


The Mountain West Conference today released its 2011 schedule of nationally-televised softball games. The slate includes eight games and will feature all six MWC teams.

Games will be broadcast on three different networks: CBS College Sports (HD), the mtn. (available locally in states where Mountain West teams play, and available nationally on DirecTV), and on BYU-TV, which is available on cable systems across the country, along with Central and South America.

The TV season kicks off Thursday, April 21, with New Mexico traveling to BYU.

San Diego State jumps into ESPN.com Top 25


The San Diego State Aztecs jumped into the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll this week, while Brigham Young dropped out of the rankings following a tough opening weekend.

The Aztecs are ranked No. 22 this week, while BYU is in the 'receiving votes' category at No. 30. San Diego State went 4-1 last week, defeating Utah State twice, along with Central Florida and North Dakota State. The Aztecs fell to top-ranked UCLA 8-2.

The Cougars went 2-3 last weekend, picking up wins over Texas A&M and Ole Miss. BYU suffered losses to Portland State, Texas Tech and Oregon. Utah, which went 3-2 at the Kajikawa Classic, including a win over No. 9 Arizona State, received one vote to rank 39th in the country.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BYU No. 23, San Diego State No. 29 in NFCA poll


Brigham Young, despite having the only losing record among Mountain West Conference teams, is the only MWC ranked in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 coaches poll released this morning.

BYU dropped seven spots from the preseason poll, falling to No. 23 this week. The Cougars are 2-3 overall.

San Diego State, which lost only to No. 1-ranked UCLA in a 4-1 weekend, is in the receiving votes category at No. 29. The Aztecs received 17 votes after having just one in the preseason poll.

No other MWC team received a vote in the poll.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

BYU falls to 1-3; Aztecs win; UNLV wins a pair


Mountain West Conference favorite and 16th-ranked Brigham Young dropped its third straight game to begin the season Friday, losing 4-3 to Portland State in morning action before bouncing back for its first win.

After surprisingly losing for the third straight game (and second straight to an unranked opponent), BYU was suddenly staring at an 0-4 start to the season. The Cougars trailed Ole Miss 5-0 before rallying for a 9-5 victory. This over an Ole Miss squad that is struggling mightily itself. The Rebels of the Southeastern Conference are 0-4 and have been outscored 26-8 so far this young season. Ole Miss has committed nine errors and its pitchers have walked 20 batters in just the first two days of the year.

San Diego State, meanwhile, won its season opener in Los Angeles with a hard-fought 3-2 win over North Dakota State. Lorena Klopp hit a 2-out solo home run in the seventh for the win. The Division I head coaching debut of Jen Fisher didn't go quite as planned, Utah split a pair of games, and UNLV started 2-0 and picked up a marquee win over Mississippi State.

Friday's MWC results

Portland State 4, Brigham Young 3
Brigham Young 9, Ole Miss 5
San Diego State 3, North Dakota State 2
UNLV 10, Mississippi State 9
UNLV 13, UC Riverside 5
Utah 6, Western Michigan 0
Arizona 8, Utah 3
New Mexico State 13, Colorado State 5

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BYU loses a pair of games; Utah routs Ole Miss

The 2011 season is underway and the first three games contained some mixed results for the Mountain West Conference.

At the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, 16th-ranked Brigham Young fell to No. 14 Oregon 3-2 and then followed that up with a surprising loss to Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Utah run-ruled Ole Miss 10-0 in five innings.

Paige Affleck of BYU tossed a complete-game 3-hitter but it wasn't enough in the loss to the Ducks. Jessica Moore threw a 4-hitter for the Ducks and hit a home run that proved to be the difference. Oregon rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning.

Utah, meanwhile, ripped the Rebels of the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss hurt itself with three errors that allowed six unearned runs.

BYU's 7-5 loss to unranked Texas Tech came in nine innings. Cougars junior Delaney Willard hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.

Final MWC season begins today for BYU, Utah


Brigham Young and Utah begin their final softball seasons as members of the Mountain West Conference today at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe.

The 16th-ranked Cougars and Utes open the tournament on opposite fields at the same time this afternoon (3:30 pm MT). BYU meets No. 14 Oregon of the Pac-10, while Utah opens against Ole Miss of the Southeastern Conference.

Later in the day, BYU takes on Big XII member Texas Tech at 6 pm MT.

All of the gametracker links for today's games can be found on the Kajikawa Classic web site.

BYU will leave the Mountain West and move to the WAC beginning in 2012. Utah will begin play in the newly-formed Pac-12 next season.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

BYU, San Diego State lead MWC coaches poll


Defending Mountain West Conference champion Brigham Young narrowly edged out San Diego State in the preseason MWC coaches poll released this morning.

BYU (46-13 last season) earned four first-place votes and 24 total points from the coaches, while the Aztecs (34-16 last season) got the remaining two first-place votes and 22 total points.

The Cougars are in their final year in the MWC before moving to the Western Athletic Conference next season. BYU, which went to its first Super Regional last season, is ranked 16th and 20th in the two major national preseason polls. The Cougars return seven starters from last season.

San Diego State, which was eliminated by Fresno State in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional a season ago, is ranked 27th and 42nd in the two national polls. The Aztecs reached their third consecutive NCAA Tournament last year (a first in school history) and return MWC Pitcher of the Year Samantha Beasley.

UNLV (33-20 last season) narrowly missed an at-large NCAA bid in 2010 and is picked to finish third this season. The Rebels return just three starters from last year's squad. Colorado State, with new head coach Jen Fisher, is predicted to finish fourth following a 29-20 (7-8 MWC) season.

Utah, in its final season in the MWC before bolting to the Pac-12, has been selected fifth. New Mexico returns five starters along with a new head coach in Erica Beach. The Lobos have been selected sixth and were ranked last on all coaches' ballots.

The Mountain West vs. WAC softball rivalry continues this season with 26 games between the two conferences. This year's schedule of MWC vs. WAC games: Colorado State at New Mexico State (Feb. 11, 13), San Diego State vs. Utah State (Feb. 12, 13), Nevada at UNLV (Feb. 17), Utah vs. Hawai'i (Feb. 18), BYU vs. Boise State (Feb. 18), Utah State at UNLV (Feb. 18), Utah vs. Nevada (Feb. 19, 27), UNLV vs. Boise State (Feb. 25), BYU vs. Fresno State (March 4), San Diego State vs. Fresno State (March 4), San Jose State at UNLV (March 6), San Diego State vs. Louisiana Tech (March 12), New Mexico at Nevada (March 13), New Mexico at San Jose State (March 16 DH), BYU at Hawai'i (March 17), Utah State at BYU (March 29), Boise State at Utah (March 30 DH), New Mexico at New Mexico State (April 4), BYU at Utah State (April 12), New Mexico State at New Mexico (April 19) and Utah at Utah State (April 26).


2011 MWC Preseason Coaches Poll

1. BYU (4) - 24
2. San Diego State (2) - 22
3. UNLV - 15
4. Colorado State - 13
5. Utah - 11
6. New Mexico - 5

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MWC preseason coaches poll out tomorrow

The preseason Mountain West Conference coaches poll will be released Thursday, February 3, at 10 a.m. MT.

It's almost a 100 percent certainty that San Diego State and Brigham Young will be picked first and second, though the order is unknown. The Cougars have the higher preseason ranking in both national polls, though a lot of so-called experts predict the Aztecs will win the conference. San Diego State returns 2010 MWC Pitcher of the Year Samantha Beasley.

If we had a vote, we'd go this way in our predictions:

1. San Diego State
2. BYU
3. UNLV
4. Colorado State
5. Utah
6. New Mexico

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cougars, Aztecs both get Top 25 votes


Both BYU and San Diego State received recognition in the two major preseason national polls released this week.

The Cougars, who are about to begin their last season in the Mountain West Conference, are ranked No. 16 in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25, and stand at No. 20 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25.

San Diego State received votes in both polls, ranking No. 27 in the ESPN.com poll and tied for No. 42 in the NFCA poll.

Yesterday it was announced that BYU will join the Western Athletic Conference in softball beginning in the 2012 season. A lot of jockeying and maneuvering between the Mountain West and WAC is taking place over the next two seasons.

Next season, Boise State moves from the WAC to the Mountain West in all sports, including softball. Then in the 2012-13 season, perennial softball power Fresno State will leave the WAC and join the Mountain West, along with Nevada.

Fresno State is the nation's only softball team to be invited to all 29 NCAA Tournaments in history. The Bulldogs have been to the Women's College World Series 12 times with one NCAA championship (1998), four appearances in the national championship game, and three runner-up finishes. Coach Margie Wright's team has reached an NCAA regional final the past three years and enters this season ranked No. 26 in the NFCA poll.

The Bulldogs eliminated San Diego State in last year's NCAA Los Angeles Regional, which was won by eventual national champion UCLA.

Nevada has made NCAA Tournament appearances in three of the past four years, and Boise State is beginning its third season of Division I softball this season.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Season begins in three weeks for MWC teams


The 2011 season begins for Mountain West Conference softball teams in three weeks. Here is the lineup of games for MWC teams on the opening weekend of play:


Thursday, February 10

BYU vs. Oregon (Tempe, AZ), 3:30 pm MT
BYU vs. Texas Tech (Tempe, AZ), 6 pm MT
Utah vs. Ole Miss (Tempe, AZ), 6:30 pm MT


Friday, February 11

BYU vs. Portland State (Tempe, AZ), 9 am MT
Utah vs. Western Michigan (Tempe, AZ), 9 am MT
BYU vs. Ole Miss (Tempe, AZ), 11:30 am MT
San Diego State vs. North Dakota St. (Los Angeles), 1 pm PT
Mississippi State at UNLV, 3:45 pm PT
Utah vs. Arizona (Tempe, AZ), 4:30 pm MT
Colorado State at New Mexico State, 6 pm MT
UC Riverside at UNLV, 6 pm MT


Saturday, February 12

BYU vs. Texas A&M (Tempe, AZ), 9 am MT
San Diego State vs. Utah State (Los Angeles), 9 am PT
Colorado State vs. Northern Colorado (Las Cruces, NM), 10 am MT
Utah Valley at New Mexico, 1 pm MT
Washington at UNLV, 1:30 pm PT
San Diego State vs. Central Florida (Los Angeles), 2 pm PT
Utah Valley at New Mexico, 3:30 pm MT
Illinois-Chicago at UNLV, 3:45 pm PT
Colorado State vs. Minnesota (Las Cruces, NM), 5 pm MT
Utah at Arizona State, 7 pm MT


Sunday, February 13

Utah vs. Oklahoma State (Tempe, AZ), 11:15 am MT
San Diego State vs. Utah State (Los Angeles), 11:30 am PT
Colorado State at New Mexico State, 2 pm MT
San Diego State at UCLA, 2 pm PT
Utah Valley at New Mexico, time TBA