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.