Thursday, February 28, 2013

San Diego State routs BYU 9-1 in 5 innings

Co-host San Diego State got the start it wanted to the weekend, run-ruling former Mountain West rival BYU 9-1 in five innings Thursday.  It was the opening game of 22 this weekend in the San Diego Classic I, co-hosted by the Aztecs and USD.

San Diego State poured it on against a BYU team now off to its worst start in more than a decade.  The Cougars are now 5-11 on the season while the Aztecs improved to 9-7.

Lorena Bauer went 4-for-4 with three doubles and two RBI, while Kristin May was 3-for-3 with two doubles, and Kamerin May had a pair of hits.  Freshman pitcher Danielle O'Toole scattered seven hits in the 5-inning game for the win.

BYU starter Hannah Howell took the loss, and the Cougars used junior outfielder Carly Duckworth to pitch for the first time.  First baseman Katie Manuma also pitched for BYU in the contest.

Four Mountain West teams collide in San Diego

For the second straight weekend, four Mountain West softball teams will all be participating in the same tournament.

This time, the destination is the San Diego Classic I, co-hosted by San Diego State and the University of San Diego.  The Aztecs will be joined by Boise State, Fresno State and New Mexico in the tourney that begins Thursday night and continues through late Sunday afternoon.

Not only are four current Mountain West teams in the field in San Diego, but the past and future of the conference are represented as well.  Former MW member BYU, which won the regular-season title in its final three years (2009 to 2011) in the Mountain West, will compete in the Classic, alongside Utah State, which is set to join the conference next season in the sport of softball.

And an immediate word of caution to the four Mountain West teams who face Utah State over the next few days:  Don't lose to the Aggies.  Utah State is off to the worst start in school history at 0-15, and a loss to USU could be the type of defeat that dooms a team's RPI all season long.

More than any other weekend so far, this week will tell us a lot about how the conference race will shape up.  Boise State, Fresno State and New Mexico will all play the exact same five teams this weekend (BYU, No. 10/12 UCLA, Long Beach State, Utah State and the University of San Diego).  San Diego State will play all of those, except for USD.  Comparing teams and comparing scores has never been easier.

Nevada travels to Stockton this weekend to participate in the Libby Matson Invitational alongside host Pacific, future Mountain West member San Jose State, and Southern Utah.  The Colorado State Classic is on tap for CSU, which will play its first home games of the year.  Among the teams in Fort Collins:  Bradley, Brown, Nebraska-Omaha and No. 18/18 Washington.  UNLV hosts its third tournament of the year -- the Eller Media Stadium Classic -- and entertains Weber State, Cal State Northridge, DePaul and New Mexico State.

San Diego State

BYU, Thursday, 6 pm PT
Long Beach State, Friday, 7 pm PT
Utah State, Saturday, 4:30 pm PT
No. 10/12 UCLA, Sunday, 2 pm PT

Outlook:  San Diego State is 0-5 this season against ranked opponents and will have to overcome history to defeat No. 10/12 UCLA on Sunday.  The Bruins have absolutely dominated SDSU over the years, winning 55 straight games against the Aztecs and leading the series 62-2.  San Diego State came close to ending that streak last season, falling to UCLA 1-0 when an illegal pitch call scored the game's lone run.

Fresno State

BYU, Friday, 11:30 am PT
No. 10/12 UCLA, Friday, 2 pm PT
Utah State, Saturday, 7 pm PT
Long Beach State, Sunday, 10 am PT
San Diego, Sunday, 12:30 pm PT

Outlook:  Last year, the Bulldogs swept a regular-season series from BYU and beat UCLA for the first time in more than a decade.  Five starters -- and eight different players who played in that win over the Bruins last year -- are back for Fresno State, including Brenna Moss, Brooke Ortiz and Stesha Brazil, who combined for six hits, three RBI and five runs scored in the win over UCLA. 

Boise State

BYU, Friday, 9 am PT
Long Beach State, Friday, 4:30 pm PT
No. 10/12 UCLA, Saturday, 11:30 am PT
San Diego, Saturday, 2 pm PT
Utah State, Sunday, 9 am PT

Outlook:   The Broncos will face BYU immediately before the Cougars take on Fresno State, and will tangle with Long Beach State just prior to the 49ers game with San Diego State.  The game on Saturday versus USD will pit the Broncos against the Toreros for the third time in a week after the teams split a pair last weekend.

New Mexico

Utah State, Friday, 2 pm PT
San Diego, Friday, 7 pm PT
Long Beach State, Saturday, 9 am PT
BYU, Saturday, 11:30 am PT
No. 10/12 UCLA, Sunday, 11:30 am PT

Outlook:  The Lobos' weekend shapes up nicely, facing the same slate of opponents as everyone else at the San Diego Classic I, but probably in the most preferable order from easiest to toughest.  New Mexico has won nine of its past 11 games and is the hottest team in the Mountain West after picking up a pair of under the radar victories last week over Auburn and Kansas.


San Jose State, Friday, 10 am PT
at Pacific, Friday, 2:30 pm PT
Southern Utah, Saturday, 10 am PT
Semifinal, Saturday, TBA
Consolation / Final, Sunday, TBA

Outlook:  A modest 4-team field greets the Wolf Pack in Stockton at the Libby Matson Invitational.  Pacific and San Jose State are solid opponents who provide a good test.  Nevada will face at least one (and possibly both) twice in one of the rare tournaments that crowns a winner through semifinal and final games, rather than in round-robin play.

Colorado State

Bradley, Friday, 1:30 pm MT
Brown, Friday, 3:45 pm MT
Nebraska-Omaha, Saturday, 11:15 am MT
Bradley, Sunday, 11:15 am MT
No. 18/18 Washington, 3:45 pm MT

Outlook:  Snow was covering the Rams' home field in Fort Colllins as recently as a few days ago, but the home opener takes place Friday at the Colorado State Classic.  Brown has yet to play a game this season, while Nebraska-Omaha is transitioning to NCAA Division I.  Riding a 6-game losing streak, the Rams have a chance at a marquee win by beating Washington.  The Huskies have won five in a row after a disappointing 5-5 start that included losses to Cal Poly and UAB.


Weber State, Friday, 3:45 pm PT
Cal State Northridge, Friday, 6 pm PT
DePaul, Saturday, 3:45 pm PT
New Mexico State, Saturday, 6 pm PT
New Mexico State, Sunday, 3:45 pm PT

Outlook:  The Rebels play in their third home tournament of the year, opening up against Weber State (0-9) and Cal State Northridge (5-12), who are a combined 0-5 versus the Mountain West.  DePaul (8-7) run-ruled UNLV on the season's opening weekend, so Saturday's meeting provides some possible revenge for the Rebels.  New Mexico State, last-place finishers in the WAC a year ago, comes calling twice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A look at MW team stats thru week 3

We're just about halfway through the non-conference season and almost one-third of the way through the entire 2013 season.  It's going fast.  It's time to take another look at where each team stands statistically.

Certain things jump out when looking at team stats.  First, Nevada has the No. 1 team batting average in the conference, but also the worst team pitching ERA.  San Diego State has the lowest team ERA (1.57) by a wide margin, with no other Mountain West team below 3.00.  Considering the opposition SDSU has already faced, it's an even more impressive number.  And Fresno State is tops defensively, not only committing the fewest errors of any MW team, but in the most number of games.  The Bulldogs and Aztecs rank in the top three of all three major categories.

Team Batting Average

  1. Nevada  .298
  2. San Diego St.  .272
  3. Fresno State  .268
  4. Boise State  .267
  5. Colorado State  .262
  6. UNLV  .251
  7. New Mexico  .248

Team Earned Run Average

  1. San Diego St.  1.57
  2. Fresno State  3.02
  3. New Mexico  3.40
  4. Colorado State  4.69
  5. Boise State  4.69
  6. UNLV  5.02
  7. Nevada  5.30

Team Fielding Percentage

  1. Fresno State  .974
  2. Boise State  .962
  3. San Diego St.  .957
  4. Nevada  .956
  5. New Mexico  .953
  6. UNLV  .951
  7. Colorado State  .921

Sunday, February 24, 2013

8 Sunday games complete the weekend

The Mountain West won just two of eight games on a less than memorable Sunday.  After Colorado State finished 0-5 in Palm Springs with a pair of late Saturday night losses, UNLV joined the Rams today with an 0-5 weekend.  Nevada split, and San Diego State lost as both finished 2-3 in the same tourney.  Fresno State and Boise State both had winning records this weekend but both blew late leads in Sunday losses. Only New Mexico escaped the day unscathed, and notched a win over a Big 12 opponent in the process.

The results will be updated throughout the day so check back often:

New Mexico 2, Kansas 1 -- Freshman Mariah Rimmer delivered a clutch, run-scoring double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning as the Lobos got the win over the Jayhawks in Corpus Christi.  Rimmer's hit -- just New Mexico's second hit since the third inning -- scored Sheryl Guillermo, who walked to lead off the seventh.  Freshman Lauren Soles threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits, to earn the victory.  Kansas (10-4) had scored 36 runs in its previous three games of this Islander Classic before running into Soles and UNM starter Kaela DeBroeck, who allowed three hits and a run in 4.2 innings.  For the second time this season, the Lobos (9-9) have their record at .500, following an 0-7 start.

Idaho State 6, Fresno State 5 -- A promising weekend ended in disappointment for the Bulldogs (10-8), who gave a win away to the Bengals in Santa Clara.  A 2-out error in the bottom of the sixth was Fresno State's undoing and it denied the Bulldogs what looked like an impressive comeback win.  Idaho State went in front 3-0 early before Fresno State came back with five straight runs.  The Bulldogs scored three in the fourth to tie it and then scored single runs in the fifth and sixth to go up 5-3.  Jill Compton, who'd come on in relief with no outs in the second inning, was mowing the Bengals down, retiring 10 straight entering the sixth inning.  A defensive switch to begin that sixth inning had Fresno State playing out of position in the infield for the first time all season, and it proved costly as a 2-out error loaded the bases.  Compton gave up a double following the miscue, and Hannah Harris allowed a single that broke the 5-5 tie.  And that was it:  Three unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the difference.  Idaho State won its third game of the year versus the Mountain West (the Bengals beat Nevada twice) and defeated the Bulldogs for the first time in history.  Brooke Ortiz had her second straight 3-for-3 game (and went 8-for-9 over the last two days), but the Bulldogs blew numerous chances to break it open, stranding runners on base in all seven innings.  Maria Sio lined out to end the fifth as Fresno State left the bases loaded. (Note: Immediately after beating the Bulldogs, Idaho State lost to previously winless Santa Clara.)

San Diego 8, Boise State 6 -- The Broncos saw their chances at a 4-win weekend evaporate quickly as San Diego rallied from a big deficit for the win in Riverside.  Boise State (7-7) was rolling early and roughed up Toreros starter Jenny Lahitte.  After Sarah Barnes hit a 3-run home run in the top of the third as part of her 4-for-4 day with four RBI, the Broncos were up 5-0 and Lahitte had to be pulled from the game.  Boise State starter Kenzie Cole was cruising along until the bottom of the fourth when USD scored three runs to cut Boise State's lead to 5-3.  In the bottom of the fifth, things went sour for the Broncos.  San Diego scored five times on six hits.  Cole allowed four straight singles and was replaced by Rebecca Patton, who gave up a run-scoring single, followed by a walk, and a 2-out, 2-run double that put USD up 8-5.  In the sixth, Boise State got a run back on an RBI single by Devon Bridges, but that was all.  San Diego picked up its third win in four tries over Mountain West squads this season (the Toreros beat Fresno State twice in 1-run games last week).  USD faces New Mexico next weekend.

UCLA 13, Nevada 4 (5 innings) -- The Wolf Pack were no match for the Bruins in a run-rule rout at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs.  Nevada starting pitcher Megan Dortch walked the first four batters she faced to force in a run early and things spiraled downhill from the beginning.  A single and a 2-run double followed, and Dortch left the game without recording an out as UCLA was up 5-0.  The Bruins had another 5-run inning in the third and scored in all four innings they came to bat.  UCLA's Mysha Sataraka tied a school-record with three doubles in three at-bats.  Bailey Brewer pitched four innings of relief for the Pack, surrendering eight hits.  A key Karley Hopkins error prolonged the third when all five runs scored with two outs.  Nevada scored a pair of runs in the fifth against Bruins reliever Jessica Hall, who walked one, hit consecutive batters and gave up singles to Megan Fincher and Ashley Butera.  Erin Jones hit a 2-run double for the Pack in the third.

Oregon 4, UNLV 2 -- Oregon freshman pitcher Cheridan Hawkins didn't allow a hit in five innings of relief as the Ducks beat the Rebels in Palm Springs.  UNLV junior Amanda Oliveto took the loss, giving up seven hits and three earned runs.  Junior outfielder Pauline Monreal put the Rebels in front early with a 2-run, 2-out double in the first, but that was all UNLV could muster as it lost for the sixth straight game.  Oregon tied it in the top of the second and scored single runs in the third and fifth, but could never pull away.

Long Beach State 7, UNLV 2 -- Erin Jones-Wesley struck out 11 as the 49ers defeated the Rebels to complete an 0-5 weekend for UNLV.  Long Beach State leadoff hitter Shayna Kimbrough had four hits to lead a 13-hit attack against the Rebels, who lost their seventh straight game.  UNLV is 5-10 on the season.

Oregon 3, San Diego State 1 -- Ducks ace Jessica Moore tossed a complete-game 3-hitter, shutting down the Aztecs' offense in Palm Springs.  Moore held San Diego State hitless until the sixth inning.  With one out in the sixth and trailing 3-0, Kayla Jordan doubled down the line in right for the Aztecs' first hit.  Jordan scored on a 2-out single by Kamerin May.  San Diego State senior Rebecca Arbino went the distance, scattering seven hits over six innings and taking the loss.  The Aztecs finished 2-3 in Palm Springs and saw their overall record dip to a game over .500 at 8-7.

Nevada 7, UC Santa Barbara 1 -- Wolf Pack pitcher Karlyn Jones had a shutout going until the sixth inning as the Wolf Pack picked up a win over the Gauchos in Palm Springs.  There was not much offense to speak of on either side until the fifth when Nevada broke a 0-0 tie.  Megan Sweet, Ashley Butera and Erin Jones hit run-scoring singles, Sara Parsons hit a 2-run double, and another run scored on a sac fly in a 6-run inning.  A frame later, a pair of UCSB errors plated a Nevada run.  Jones struck out her sixth batter of the game to end it as the Pack moved to 7-8 on the year.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Freshman pitchers lead the way Saturday

Fresno State's 2013 freshman class (Compton, second from left)

All seven Mountain West teams were in action Saturday as tourney play continued for everyone.  Boise State and Fresno State both won twice, while San Diego State and New Mexico picked up victories over the Big Ten and SEC behind strong freshman pitching performances.  And it was Fresno State freshman Jill Compton who made the most noise, tossing her first career no-hitter.

Keep checking back as we update throughout the day.

Fresno State 4, St. Mary's 0 --  Bulldog pitcher Jill Compton threw the 70th no-hitter in program history and became the first freshman to do so in seven years as Fresno State rolled past the Gaels at the Santa Clara Broncos Invitational.  Compton struck out the side in the seventh inning and picked up her fifth win of the year (tops among freshman pitchers in the Mountain West) and her sixth complete game.  She joins former All-Americans Jamie Southern (2002) and Robin Mackin (2006) as the only Fresno State freshman pitchers since 2000 to toss no-hitters.  Compton is the only one of the three to have done it in the month of February.  The Bulldogs pounded out eight hits in support of her, including a 3-for-3 day from Brooke Ortiz.  And the Bulldogs did it against Lujane Mussadi, the reigning Pacific Coast Softball Conference Pitcher of the Week, who was coming off a 3-hit shutout in her last outing. Brenna Moss had a hit, scored two runs and had two steals to complete an afternoon where she stole four bases.   Michelle Solomon had a single and two RBI, and freshmen Paige Gumz and Whitney Smith both had hits as the Bulldogs scored single runs in four separate innings.  The game matched first-year Bulldogs coach Trisha Ford against her alma mater, where she still owns multiple hitting records.  This marks the fourth straight season a Fresno State pitcher has thrown a no-hitter.

Boise State 1, San Diego 0 -- At the Amy S. Harrison Classic in Riverside, the Broncos prevailed in a game where they were held to just two singles.  San Diego had hits off Boise State starter Rebecca Patton in all seven innings, but was unable to score.  Conversely, Boise State bunched its only two hits of the game together in the fourth inning to squeak by with a win.  In the fourth, Devon Bridges led off with a single for the first hit off tough-luck losing pitcher Cassidy Coleman of USD.  With one out, Bridges scored on Sarah Palmer's RBI single to left. And that was it.  Patton earned her first complete-game shutout as a Bronco, allowing seven hits, while striking out six and walking none.  San Diego is now 5-5 on the year.

Fresno State 2, Cal State Northridge 1 -- At the Santa Clara Broncos Invitational, Brenna Moss and Brooke Ortiz were involved in both scoring plays as the Bulldogs edged the Matadors for a third time this season.  Trailing 1-0 in the third, Ortiz tripled to score Moss, who had singled with two outs in the inning.  In the sixth, Ortiz hit an RBI single to score Moss with what would turn out to be the game-winning run.  Prior to Ortiz's second hit of the game, Moss had singled and stolen a base.  Moss stole a pair of bases in the game, giving her 10 on the season.  Bulldog freshman starter Taylor Langdon held the Matadors to one run on four hits in four innings of work, while freshman reliever Hannah Harris picked up the victory (despite the fact the official box score incorrectly listed Langdon as the winning pitcher).  Harris didn't allow a hit in the three innings she pitched.  Northridge fell to 5-11 (0-3 versus the Bulldogs).

New Mexico 2, Auburn 1 -- At the Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi, the Lobos got a strong pitching performance from freshman Lauren Soles to defeat the Tigers of the Southeastern Conference.  New Mexico continued its hot streak, winning for the eighth time in its last nine games and evening its record at .500 (8-8 overall) for the first time this season.  Soles had a no-hitter going through four innings and finished with a 3-hitter to grab the win.  Chelsea Anaya had three of New Mexico's five hits in the game, including a solo home run in the fifth.  Auburn entered the game 12-3 overall, albeit against a soft schedule.  Soles got out of her most problematic jam in the sixth after Auburn had a run in and a runner in scoring position with just one out.  A strikeout and groundout ended the Tigers threat.

Boise State 4, UC Riverside 2 -- The Highlanders appeared to be firmly in control of this one through six innings.  Starting pitcher Alyssa Razo had a 2-0 shutout intact and had allowed only four hits to the Broncos through six full frames.  In the seventh, however, first-year Riverside coach Linda Garza replaced Razo with freshman reliever Ashley Ercolano in the circle and the move backfired in a big way as the Broncos scored all four of their runs with two outs in the seventh.  An error by shortstop Nicolette Lujan, on a play that would have ended the game, allowed Boise State to load the bases. From there, it was a nightmare for UCR and a dream for the Broncos as Ercolano gave up three hits and two walks -- all still with two outs in the seventh -- as Boise State surged from behind for the improbable win.  It was Devon Bridges' single up the middle that put the Broncos in front to stay.   Kenzie Cole allowed one hit in three innings of relief to pick up the win in a game started by Lela Work.  The Broncos moved a game above .500 at 7-6 overall with their third straight victory in the tourney.

San Diego State 5, Ohio State 0 -- Freshman pitcher Danielle O'Toole turned in a strong effort, tossing a 3-hit shutout as the Aztecs beat the Buckeyes at the MNCC in Palm Springs.  O'Toole struck out three and walked two in improving her record to 2-3 on the season.  The Aztecs had nine hits against the Buckeyes (9-5), including a 3-for-3 game from leadoff hitter Kayla Jordan.  San Diego State got all the runs it would need in the first, taking a 2-0 lead on a Lorena Bauer RBI single and a catcher's throwing error.  In the third, the Aztecs added two more runs as Jordan led off with a double, and Bauer and Kristin May each had RBI. Though San Diego State's overall record of 8-6 isn't all that gaudy, the Aztecs have stockpiled the most impressive list of non-conference wins.  Add Ohio State now to a list that includes Northwestern, Notre Dame and Syracuse among teams who have all fallen to SDSU in the first three weeks of the season.  The Aztecs get a chance to take down a ranked foe in Oregon on Sunday to conclude the tourney.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 6, New Mexico 5 (8 innings) -- The Lobos banged out 14 hits but it wasn't enough to stop the hometown team at the Islanders Invitational in Corpus Christi.  New Mexico rallied in the seventh when it had six hits alone and scored three runs to tie it before leaving the bases loaded.   A&M-Corpus Christi had nine hits in the game, eight against UNM starter Carrie Sheehan.  Lisa Rodrigues picked up the loss in relief, however, as UNM lost with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  With one out and the bases loaded in the eighth, the Islanders scored on a fielder's choice.  Mariah Rimmer's impressive freshman campaign continued with a 3-for-5 performance and two runs scored. 

Utah 5, Nevada 2 -- The Wolf Pack suffered another heartbreaking defeat at the MNCC and errors played a big role again.  Nevada lost a day earlier when an error in the 11th led to Oregon State scoring the game-winning run.  Today, it was two errors in the seventh inning that spoiled what had been a terrific pitching outing from Bailey Brewer.  Entering the seventh, Brewer had allowed just one hit and the Wolf Pack were in front 2-0.  A leadoff double in the seventh was followed by a Nevada infield error and a Brewer wild pitch.  After getting a line out for the first out of the inning (which should have actually been the second), Brewer gave up consecutive run-scoring singles to tie the game.  Another infield error loaded the bases and all three runners ended up scoring on a double by senior shortstop Kelsi Hoopiiaina.  Prior to the seventh, it looked like Nevada's 2-run uprising in the fourth would hold up. In that frame, Sara Parsons and Ashley Butera singled and both scored on Megan Fincher's 2-run double.  It was the second meeting between the two schools in three weeks and Utah got a bit of revenge from an earlier 6-4 loss to the Pack.

Nevada 3, Long Island 0 -- Megan Dortch tossed a 2-hitter as the Wolf Pack defeated the Blackbirds of the Northeast Conference at the MNCC.  Dortch struck out 12 and walked two to earn her second victory as a member of the Wolf Pack squad after transferring from Northern Illinois.  All thee Nevada runs were scored in the fourth inning.  Ashley Butera hit an RBI double, and Jasmine Jenkins and Megan Fincher had run-scoring singles in the game.  Nevada had seven hits in the contest, all from different players.

Virginia 7, Colorado State 1 -- Cavaliers pitcher Melanie Mitchell handed the Rams a fourth straight tourney loss in Palm Springs and their fifth overall.  It was a pitching matchup between Mitchell, a 2012 second team All-ACC selection, and Kacie McCarthy, the reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Year.  Mitchell struck out 11 and allowed four hits in the win, while McCarthy had seven strikeouts and gave up seven hits.  Virginia went in front 5-0 early in the game before CSU answered in the fifth with its only run.  Brianna Donahue doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on an error.

Loyola Marymount 4, UNLV 1 -- Senior pitcher Dana Waldusky allowed five hits in LMU's late-night win over the Rebels Saturday in Palm Springs.  UNLV junior Tayler Van Acker had an RBI single in the fourth for her team's lone run of the game as the Rebels had chances to score, but couldn't quite come up with a clutch hit.  After being held hitless through the first three innings of the game, UNLV stranded runners on base in each of the final four innings.  They left the bases loaded in the fourth when trailing by a run, and their first two batters of the seventh reached base safely, bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs in the final inning.  Rebels starter Amanda Oliveto allowed eight hits and absorbed the loss.  It was the fifth straight defeat for UNLV as its record fell to 5-8.

Syracuse 4, Colorado State 2 -- The Rams completed an 0-5 weekend in Palm Springs, falling to the Orange in the final game of Saturday night played at the Big League Dreams complex.  Colorado State, picked to finish second in the Mountain West in preseason coaches balloting, has lost six consecutive games.  The 6-game losing streak is the longest for CSU since the 2011 season, Jen Fisher's first at the school, when the Rams finished last in the conference.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Aztecs, Bulldogs, Broncos & Lobos win on Friday

Action continues at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs for San Diego State and Colorado State Friday after both teams went 0-2 Thursday.  Nevada and UNLV will play their first games of the tourney.

Fresno State begins play at the Santa Clara Broncos Invitational, Boise State opens up play at the Amy S. Harrison Classic hosted by UC Riverside, and New Mexico is at the Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi.

Friday's results:

New Mexico 6, Southern 4 -- Mariah Rimmer and Chelsea Anaya hit home runs as the Lobos prevailed over Southern in their first game of the Islander Invitational.  Rimmer had three hits and an RBI, while Anaya and Naomi Tellez had a pair of hits each.  UNM moved to 7-8 on the season, while Southern fell to 0-12.  Lisa Rodrigues was the winning pitcher, allowing three runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings.

San Jose State 5, Fresno State 2 -- In a game played as part of the Santa Clara Invitational but taking place on the Spartans' home field in San Jose, the Bulldogs remained winless away from home.  Vonnie Martin hit a 2-run double in the first inning to give Fresno State the early lead but the Bulldog offense was non-existent after that.  It was just San Jose State's 10th win ever over the Bulldogs in 91 games between the two schools.  Coach Trisha Ford's squad (7-7 overall) is 0-6 away from Bulldog Diamond this season. San Jose State improved to 6-7 and is now 2-1 versus the Mountain West that it will join next season.  The Spartans have beaten New Mexico 9-0 and lost to UNLV 2-1 earlier this year.

Boise State 10, Weber State 1 (5 innings) -- The Broncos run-ruled the Wildcats in Riverside.  Boise State moved its record to 5-6 on the year, while Weber State remained winless at 0-6. 

Utah 7, Colorado State 3 -- The Utes pounded out 10 hits to defeat Kacie McCarthy and the Rams at the MNCC.  Utah improved to 5-6 on the season and is now 2-1 versus the Mountain West after beating UNLV and falling to Nevada earlier this season.  Colorado State has lost four straight games.   After being down 3-0 in the sixth inning, CSU got a 2-run single from Shae Rodriguez to make it a 1-run game.  In the top of the seventh though, Utah broke it open as the first three batters of the inning all reached base off McCarthy (two walks and a single).  All three runs ended up scoring after reliever Holly Reinke entered and were charged to McCarthy.  A fourth run of the seventh was charged to Reinke.  CSU got a run in the seventh on a solo homer by Daneille Wikre for the final margin.

Fresno State 5, Santa Clara 1 -- At the Santa Clara Broncos Invitational, the Bulldogs continued their dominance over the hosts.  Fresno State has now won 47 of the 48 games between the schools in this series after Friday's win.  It was the Bulldogs' first win of the season away from home as they improved to 8-7.  Santa Clara remains winless at 0-7.  Freshman pitcher Taylor Langdon got her first career start and picked up the win, improving to 3-1 on the season.  Langdon was relieved in the fifth by freshman Hannah Harris, who earned her first save by allowing just one hit in three innings.  Sophomore Brenna Moss had two stolen bases and three hits, including her Mountain West-leading fifth triple of the season.  Junior Stesha Brazil moved into a tie for the conference lead in home runs with San Diego State's Lorena Bauer by hitting her fifth -- a 2-run shot in the top of the fifth inning.  Freshman catcher Paige Gumz added a pair of hits and Vonnie Martin added an RBI.  Diane Runge and Michelle Solomon both hit doubles in the contest and the Bulldogs stole four bases, surpassing their entire 2012 stolen base total as they now have 19 on the year.

Oregon State 6, Nevada 5 (11 innings) -- At the MNCC, the Wolf Pack lost a heartbreaker to the Beavers with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  Second baseman Karley Hopkins committed an error to begin the fourth inning, giving Oregon State runners at second and third base with nobody out.  It was the fourth Wolf Pack error of the game and would prove to be the most costly.  Tough-luck losing pitcher Karlyn Jones then got the Beavers to hit into an infield groundout that failed to advance either runner.  A sacrifice fly, which would have been the third out of the inning if not for the error, sent Oregon State to its ninth straight win.  Nevada trailed 3-0 before taking the lead with the long ball in the fifth inning.  Erin Jones hit a 3-run home run to conclude an impressive, 15-pitch at-bat to pull the Pack into a 3-all tie.  One out later in the fifth, Ashley Butera homered as Nevada went in front 4-3.  A solo home run by Oregon State in the sixth tied the game and each team scored a run with the ITB in effect in the eighth.

BYU 5, UNLV 3 -- At the MNCC, the Mountain West suffered its seventh straight loss in the tournament without a win as the Rebels saw a late lead disappear in a loss to the Cougars.  UNLV was up 3-1 in the sixth inning, but BYU scored three in the sixth to take the lead for good.  The Cougars added an insurance run in the seventh.  Freshman Jamie DePippo took the loss in relief after entering in the sixth in place of starter Stefany Valentino.  BYU (5-8 overall) had eight hits to the Rebels' four in the game.  UNLV is now 5-6 on the season after losing its third straight game.

LSU 6, UNLV 1 -- At the MNCC, freshman pitcher Francesca Foti of UNLV allowed just one earned run in a complete-game effort, but the Tigers opened up a close game with a late rally.  A Rebels error with two outs in the sixth inning was their undoing as four hits and a walk followed for a 4-run LSU inning.  UNLV took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Tigers starter Ashley Czechner walked a pair and hit two batters, the last one scoring UNLV's lone run.  Foti allowed 13 hits in six innings of work on a day when Amanda Oliveto didn't pitch in either Rebels game.  UNLV's fourth straight loss dropped it to 5-7 on the year and the Mountain West lost its eighth straight game this weekend at the Palm Springs-area tourney.  LSU improved to 13-1.

San Diego State 3, Syracuse 0 -- Friday night, the Aztecs picked up the Mountain West's first win of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic after eight straight losses.  Senior pitcher Rebecca Arbino struck out a career-high 12 and allowed five hits in the complete-game shutout for the Aztecs over the Orange.  San Diego State moved to 7-6 on the season, while Syracuse suffered a third straight defeat and is now 3-3. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Aztecs, Rams go 0-4 Thursday in Palm Springs

It's had three tourney name changes over the years but one thing remains the same:  A powerful group of teams will gather this week in the Palm Springs area for the nation's premier in-season tournament.

Now known as the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic (and formerly the Cathedral City Classic and the Palm Springs Softball Classic prior to that), this week's field of 35 teams includes more than half of the Mountain West Conference.

Four of the Mountain West's seven softball teams are in action this week at the Big League Dreams complex just east of Palm Springs.  Colorado State and San Diego State get underway today, with each facing a ranked opponent.  The Rams meet No. 13/16 Georgia, while the Aztecs face off against No. 7/7 Missouri, which beat Fresno State twice last weekend.

Nevada and UNLV will begin play Friday in the MNCC.  The one team noticeably absent:  Fresno State, which did not travel to Palm Springs for the first time in eight seasons.  Instead, the Bulldogs will be facing a light field at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.

Boise State this weekend faces a somewhat soft slate at the Amy S. Harrison Classic, hosted by UC Riverside.  And New Mexico will play four games at the Islander Classic, hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Over the next four days at the MNCC, Mountain West teams will meet the likes of UCLA, Oregon, LSU, Oregon State, BYU, Virginia, Syracuse, Ohio State and UC Santa Barbara, among others.

Keep checking back for updates throughout the rest of the day and weekend.

No. 13/16 Georgia 5, Colorado State 4 -- Freshman Geri Ann Glasco was a one-woman wrecking crew for the Bulldogs, who came from behind to defeat the Rams in morning action at the MNCC.  Glasco got the pitching win by scattering nine hits and also blasted a 3-run home run that proved to be the eventual game-winning hit against CSU senior pitcher Kacie McCarthy.  The Rams were up 4-1 in the fourth inning and led 4-2 when Glasco's bomb cleared the breakaway fence in center field an inning later.  McCarthy (4-3) allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked one. Glasco's homer was Georgia's only extra-base hit in the contest.  Emily Pohl, who hit a double for the Rams' only extra-base hit, and Cassy Mosser had two hits apiece for CSU.  Chelsea Biglow had three RBI, including a 2-run single in the third that put Colorado State in front 4-1.  Glasco allowed only one single over the game's final 4 1/3 innings, and no Rams player advanced past first base after the third inning.

Oregon State 11, Colorado State 0 (5 innings) -- Pitching woes told the story of this one at the MNCC as the Beavers took advantage of 11 walks from CSU pitchers in a run-rule rout.  The first seven batters of the game all reached base safely for Mizzou as Rams starting pitcher Kailey Snyder failed to record an out.  Snyder walked four of the first six batters she faced and gave up a pair of hits as the Beavers scored five in the opening frame.  Reliever Molly Randle walked the first batter she faced to force in a run, and OSU scored four more times in the second to go up 9-0 early.  Randle ended up walking seven. Oregon State senior starter Marina Demore allowed only two hits, both singles, to Ashlie Ortega.  Colorado State has now lost three straight and has allowed nine or more runs in four of its past five games.

No. 7/7 Missouri 2, San Diego State 1 -- Sophomore pitcher Bailey Erwin got the complete-game win as the 7th-ranked Tigers of Mizzou nipped the Aztecs at the MNCC.  Erwin became the third different Missouri pitcher to beat a Mountain West team in less than a week.  Senior First Team All-American Chelsea Thomas and senior NFCA All-Region pick Nicole Hudson both pitched complete-game wins over Fresno State last weekend in Santa Barbara. It's the fourth loss to a ranked team for San Diego State this season.  Freshman left-hander Daneille O'Toole got the start for SDSU and allowed four hits through six innings before giving way to Rebecca Arbino in the seventh.

Virginia 5, San Diego State 2 -- Melanie Mitchell got the win for the Cavaliers in the day's final game Thursday at the MNCC.  The Aztecs, like Colorado State earlier, saw their record drop to .500 at 6-6 overall.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seventh inning rally propels Fresno State to win

Fresno State rallied late, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday for a 3-2 win over Cal State Bakersfield in front of a crowd of 1,153 fans at Bulldog Diamond.

The offense finally got going in the sixth and seventh innings for the Bulldogs, who narrowly avoided an embarrassing home loss to the Roadrunners, who are now 1-8 on the season.  Fresno State improved to 7-6 and snapped a 5-game losing streak that was tied for the longest in school history.

The Bulldogs trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the sixth.  Designated hitter Vonnie Martin delivered the team's first clutch hit of the game with a hard hit, 2-out single up the middle to score Stesha Brazil, who walked earlier in the frame.

Down 2-1 with one away in the bottom of the seventh and no one on base, speedy Diane Runge beat out an infield single that gave Fresno State hope.  Outfielder Brenna Moss then laced a triple that rolled to the wall in right-center, scoring Runge and knotting the score at 2-2.  It was the fourth triple of the year already for Moss.

Still with one out and Moss at third, Brooke Ortiz roped a single to medium deep right field and Moss raced home for the walk-off victory.  Taylor Langdon, who entered in relief of starter Hannah Harris, earned the win by allowing one run on five hits in three innings of work.  Harris pitched well, allowing just a run on five hits in four innings and struck out three.  Neither of the Bulldog freshman pitchers walked a batter.

Fresno State struggled offensively, stranding runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings before the late-game heroics.  Cal State Bakersfield got a season high in hits (10), doubling its previous high of only five.  The Roadrunners have not scored more than two runs in a game this season.

Ortiz and Runge had two hits each to pace Fresno State's 8-hit attack.  Martin, Moss and Ortiz had the Bulldogs' three RBI.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lobos pick up road win over rival Aggies

New Mexico rallied for five runs in the sixth inning to come from behind and beat its in-state rival from New Mexico State 10-9 in Las Cruces Tuesday.  It was the day's lone game involving a Mountain West softball team.

The Lobos scored in only two innings, but both were 5-run uprisings in a wild game that had a bit of everything.

There was a lengthy rain delay, bench warnings, a coaching ejection, hit batters by both teams, eight combined errors, a staggering 11 unearned runs, passed balls, wild pitches and multiple illegal pitch calls.

UNM starter Lauren Soles, the reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Week and fresh off the first no-hitter of her collegiate career, found the going tough. Soles issued six walks in 2 1/3 innings, had some trouble with illegal pitches, and the Lobos had defensive issues with multiple miscues behind her.  Soles left the game trailing, having allowed seven runs --  two earned -- on only two hits.

New Mexico State, last in the WAC a year ago, scored three times in the first inning without benefit of a hit.  By the bottom of the second, the Aggies were leading 4-0 against Soles and the Lobos, yet still didn't have a hit.  In the third, following an ejection of a Lobos assistant coach, Naomi Tellez hit a 3-run home run as part of a 5-run New Mexico uprising. 

But in the bottom of the third, the Aggies regained the lead with four runs of their own.  Soles was replaced by pitcher Kaela DeBroeck after a walk, single, illegal pitch and another walk.  An outfield error by the Lobos, after DeBroeck entered, was the key play of that inning and put NMSU up 8-5.

Pitcher Carrie Sheehan entered in the bottom of the fifth and was the eventual winner when UNM erupted for five runs in the sixth, taking advantage of two more New Mexico State errors.  Mariah Rimmer hit a 2-run double and Kaity Ingram had a 2-run single in the frame.

The Lobos have won six of their past seven games in an impressive run following an 0-7 start to the season.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday storylines in the Mountain West

Eight softball games involving Mountain West teams are on tap today to complete week two of the season.

There are some big storylines Sunday.  Among them:
  • Can Colorado State win a fifth straight game at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces?  And will the high-scoring games continue?  The Rams have scored a whopping 43 runs in going 4-0 this weekend, but they've also given up 31.
  • Can Fresno State snap its 4-game losing streak or will the Bulldogs tie a dubious school record for losses today?  Only two softball teams in school history (1981 and 1993) have ever lost five games in a row, and it hasn't happened in 20 years.
  • Will San Diego State's strong pitching, particularly from Rebecca Arbino, continue?  The Aztecs have allowed just 23 total runs in nine games thus far, which leads the Mountain West.  Arbino has a 1.33 ERA in 42 innings.
  • Can Nevada pull off an upset win over nationally-ranked Hawai'i for the second season in a row?  A win today by the Wolf Pack could be enough to knock the Wahine out of the Top 25 all together since UH has already lost twice this weekend.  One of Hawai'i's losses came to a struggling BYU team that is currently 4-6 overall.
  • Can Boise State finish 3-2 this weekend at the UTSA Classic after splitting its first four games?
  • Will UNLV send Amanda Oliveto to the circle to start for the ninth time in 10 Rebels games this season?  No other Rebel pitcher has a victory so far, and no one aside from Oliveto has started a game since the season's opening day.
  • Can New Mexico win five games this weekend after beginning the season 0-7?  The Lobos have won three of four at their own tournament, albeit against a light schedule.  They are the only Mountain West team to play twice today.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.

Nevada 11, No. 20/23 Hawai'i 9 -- Karlyn Jones came on in relief to put somewhat of a halt to Hawai'i's bats as the Wolf Pack beat the Rainbow Wahine for a second straight season.  Hawai'i coach Bob Coolen decided not to go with senior ace pitcher Kaia Parnaby, who was 4-0 all-time against Nevada, and instead handed the pitching duties to freshman Keiki Carlos, who didn't make it out of the first inning and allowed four earned runs.  Freshman Loie Kesterson replaced Carlos in the circle and also had trouble with a Nevada team that had lost three of its four previous games this weekend at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Hawai'i had 13 hits, while the Wolf Pack had 11, and the teams combined for seven home runs.  Nevada hit four -- all from different players.  Erin Jones, Sara Parsons, Lauren Lastrapes and Megan Fincher all went deep against the Wahine, who lost for the fourth time in their last seven games and went 3-3 in Las Vegas.  Nevada has now beaten Hawai'i in the last two meetings between the two schools.  The game was a matchup of teams predicted to finish last (Nevada) and first (Hawai'i) in their respective conferences this season in a preseason poll of those leagues' coaches.  The Wolf Pack evened their record at 5-5 this season, while the Wahine fell to 8-4 overall.

New Mexico 4, Central Michigan 0 (5+ innings) -- Freshman left-hander Lauren Soles was credited with a 5"ish" inning no-hitter in a game stopped in the top of the sixth inning due to flight plans for the Chippewas team.  Central Michigan came to bat in five innings and had just one base runner on a hit batter in the third inning.  No Chippewa advanced past second base in the game.  Freshman Mariah Rimmer had a home run among her two hits and also stole a base.  The win came in New Mexico's second game of the day at its own Lobo Classic.  After going 0-7 to start the season, the Lobos completed a 5-1 weekend on their home field to move their overall record to 5-8.

San Diego 8, Fresno State 7 (9 innings) -- The Bulldogs lost a 4-1 lead, then rallied from three runs down to tie it in the bottom of the seventh before falling yet again via the international tiebreak rule.  It was the second time in as many weekends the Bulldogs lost with the ITB in effect when a runner is placed at second base to begin each extra inning.  Fresno State has suffered mightily over the years in ITB games, having lost every one they've played in the past four seasons.  Bulldog first-year coach Trisha Ford pulled starting pitcher Hannah Harris with one out in the fifth inning and a runner at first base with the Bulldogs up 4-2.  Harris hadn't allowed an earned run in the game to that point as both previous runs scored on Fresno State errors. Reliever Jill Compton immediately walked two, allowed a single and then gave up a grand slam that pushed USD in front 7-4. Compton was gone after 2/3 of an inning and replaced with Taylor Langdon, who pitched well, allowing no earned runs over the final 3 1/3 innings, yet still ended up with the loss.  With two outs in the seventh, Fresno State rallied on a Paige Gumz RBI single that scored Michelle Solomon (who doubled). Maria Sio, who committed two errors earlier in the game, then hit a game-tying, 2-run home run that forced extra innings.  In the eighth, Fresno State had a hit with the ITB in effect but still couldn't score after having two runners in scoring position with just one out.  In the ninth, Fresno State hit into a double play to erase the placed runner. The Bulldogs suffered a dubious milestone, tying a 32-year-old school record for futility with their fifth consecutive loss. The 1981 Fresno State softball team lost five in a row, and that string of defeats was only matched one time -- in 1993 -- before today.  No Bulldog softball team in school history has ever lost six games in a row.

Rutgers 9, Boise State 2 -- The Scarlet Knights hit a first inning grand slam off Broncos starting pitcher Rebecca Patton and never looked back in a decisive win over the Broncos.  Boise State finished the weekend 2-3 at the UTSA Classic and Patton went the distance, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs.  Despite the lopsided score, the Broncos still managed nine hits, including a home run from Tara Glover and a 4-for-4 game from Holly Bourke.

New Mexico State 9, Colorado State 2 -- After averaging more than 13 runs per game in two Saturday wins, the Rams were held in check by the host Aggies at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces today.  Holly Reinke took the loss when New Mexico State scored five times in the first inning and added single runs in each of the next four innings.

New Mexico 1, IPFW 0 (8 innings) -- With the international tiebreak rule in effect, New Mexico got a game-ending hit from Kaity Ingram to nip Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.  Freshman Lisa Rodrigues went the distance against the Mastadons of the Summit League, who out-hit the Lobos seven to four.  New Mexico committed three errors to none for IPFW.

San Diego State 9, UC Riverside 1 (6 innings) -- In their final game of the Campbell-Cartier Classic, the Aztecs rolled over the Highlanders as freshman pitcher Danielle O'Toole notched her first win as a collegian.  O'Toole allowed three hits, struck out four and didn't allow an earned run.  San Diego State won its third straight game of the weekend and hit three home runs (Lorena Bauer, Kamerin May and Kayla Jordan).  Jordan finished the day 4-for-4 and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.  Bauer had three RBI in the game, and Monica Downey had three singles for the Aztecs, who will join Colorado State and Nevada in next weekend's prestigious Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic (formerly the Cathedral City Classic) near Palm Springs.

Utah 14, UNLV 6 (5 innings) -- For only the second time this season, a player other than Amanda Oliveto got the start at pitcher and the Utes pounded out a season-high 19 hits in a rout in Las Vegas.  The Utes entered the game 3-6 overall, but had 11 hits and nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against UNLV starter Stefany Valentino.  Utah had eight hits and five earned runs against reliever Jamie DePippo, and built an 11-2 lead by the third inning.  Down 14-2 in the fifth, the Rebels mounted a bit of a comeback and threatened to end Utah's run-rule bid.  The Utes were able to end the game early as UNLV left the bases loaded in the fifth.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Highs and lows on a mixed bag Saturday

The only ranked opponent for the Mountain West on Saturday was a familiar one.  The Missouri Tigers, ranked seventh and eighth in the two national polls, defeated Fresno State again today after All-American Chelsea Thomas beat the Bulldogs Friday.

Fresno State carried the Mountain West's top overall record (6-1) into this weekend's action but now finds itself on the brink of history -- and not the good kind.  The Bulldogs have a 4-game losing streak in a single season for the first time in 10 years and face the chance of tying a dubious school record Sunday.

Saturday didn't start out strong for the conference at all in early action. Boise State was two outs away from a win when Iowa State erupted for six runs and went on to rout the Broncos in San Antonio, and New Mexico fell 7-2 at home to a Hampton squad that hadn't won a non-conference game on an opponent's field in nearly two years.  Nevada was routed by Long Beach State in its first game of the day, and UNLV lost a 4-run lead to Utah Valley before rallying in extra innings.

Colorado State was involved in two wild late-night contests, while San Diego State shut out Notre Dame Saturday evening for the best win of a day full of highs and lows for the conference.

Saturday's action:

No. 7/8 Missouri 11, Fresno State 3 (5 innings) -- Junior Stesha Brazil blasted two home runs to account for all three Bulldog runs against the Tigers but it wasn't enough in a run-rule loss in UC Santa Barbara's Gaucho Classic I.  Freshman starting pitcher Hannah Harris retired Mizzou in order in the first and the Bulldogs took a quick 1-0 lead when Brazil hit her third home run of the season in the bottom of the inning.  The Tigers responded in the second when Nicole Hudson continued her torrid start to the season with her third home run in two days.  Missouri added four more runs in the third before Fresno State responded in the bottom of the frame.  A Brooke Ortiz single was followed by Brazil's second homer of the game -- and fourth of the season -- to cut the Tigers' lead to 5-3.  That was as close as the Bulldogs would get in suffering their fourth consecutive loss and first run-rule defeat.  Harris allowed three home runs and Jill Compton gave up one in relief. Sophomore Michelle Solomon joined Brazil with two of the Bulldogs' eight hits.  Fresno State had not lost four straight in a single season in 10 years.  Sunday, the Bulldogs will look to avoid a dubious distinction.  A loss in Fresno State's final game of the tourney versus San Diego would tie a 20-year-old school record for most consecutive losses in the history of the program.  Only two Bulldog softball teams have lost five straight games in school history -- in 1981 and 1993.

UC Santa Barbara 5, Fresno State 2 -- The Bulldogs struggled on offense when the host Gauchos sent Trisha Ford's squad to a loss in the first game of the day.  Fresno State could get nothing going offensively again until Vonnie Martin, the team's lone All-WAC honoree a year ago, seemed to provide a spark off the bench.  Not in the starting lineup for five straight games, Martin's pinch-hit single with one out in the sixth was followed by a single from Michelle Solomon.  A walk to Paige Gumz was next, and the Bulldogs scored their only runs of the game on Maria Sio's bases-loaded double with two outs.  It was just Sio's second hit of the season and her first two RBI.  Compton allowed four runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings of her seventh start in 10 games.  UCSB, which lost to Fresno State last season, improved to 7-1 as reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week Shelby Wisdom threw a complete-game, 6-hitter.  Wisdom won MVP honors a week ago when UCSB went 5-0 and won the Mardi Gras Classic championship in Louisiana.

San Diego State 4, Notre Dame 0 -- Rebecca Arbino had the most impressive pitching outing of the day by a Mountain West pitcher, tossing a complete-game shutout against the Fighting Irish at the Campbell-Cartier Classic in San Diego.  Arbino struck out seven, walked one and allowed just four hits as Notre Dame saw its record fall to 4-4.  Patrice Jackson hit her second home run of the season, a solo shot.  Kamerin May had a pair of RBI while Kristin May had one, and Katie Mathis hit a double for San Diego State.  The Aztecs moved their record back over .500 at 5-4.

Iowa State 9, Boise State 4 -- The Cyclones erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh inning to erase a deficit and go on for the win over the Broncos at the UTSA Roadrunners Classic in San Antonio.  Kenzie Cole was two outs from a complete-game pitching win when Iowa State's late uprising occurred.  The Cyclones tied it with a 1-out infield single.  After a force at home for the second out of the inning, Iowa State scored five consecutive runs as a 2-run double was followed by a 3-run home run that put the game out of reach.  Lela Work came on to relieve Cole and get the final out of the seventh.  Boise State had taken its first lead of the game, 4-3 in the fifth inning.  Sarah Barnes doubled and Tara Glover singled in that frame, and the runs scored on a passed ball and sacrifice fly.  Shortstop Mackenzie Whyte had two of the Broncos' seven hits in the game, while Cole was charged with nine earned runs and 13 hits allowed.  Iowa State moved its record to 6-3 on the year.

Hampton 7, New Mexico 2 -- The Pirates (1-6) picked up their first win of the season and got a bit of revenge after New Mexico run-ruled them last night at the Lobo Classic in Albuqerque.  Hampton pounded out a season-high 11 hits against three New Mexico pitchers, with starter Kari Gutierrez taking the loss.  Chelsea Anaya had a double and Cassandra Kalapsa a triple as the Lobos fell for the eighth time in 10 games.  Hampton last celebrated a non-conference win on an opponent's home field nearly two years ago.  The Pirates hadn't won a true non-conference road game since March 25, 2011, when they won at Norfolk State.

New Mexico 3, Bradley 1 -- In their second game of the day, the Lobos got a strong pitching outing from left-handed freshman Lauren Soles in a win over the Braves in Albuquerque.  Soles held Bradley to just four hits in the contest and didn't allow an earned run in picking up her first win as a collegian.  She went the distance and had seven strikeouts, including one to end the game when the batter represented the tying run.  New Mexico's third win of the season in 11 contests came against a Braves squad that upset nationally-ranked Arizona at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend.

Long Beach State 8, Nevada 1 -- The 49ers played an all-around strong game, getting a 4-hit pitching performance from Erin Jones-Wesley and pounding out nine of their own in a rout of Wolf Pack at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Nevada never found its groove, committing three errors and falling for the third straight time this weekend and for the fourth time in its last five games.  Long Beach State scored three runs in the third and added two more in the fifth and three additional runs in the sixth.  Ashley Butera's solo homer in the sixth accounted for Nevada's lone run.  The top five hitters in the 49ers batting order went a combined 7-for-17 in the rout with seven RBI and five runs scored.

UNLV 9, Utah Valley 5 (8 innings) -- The Rebels won in extra innings at their own Easton Desert Classic thanks to the international tiebreak rule.  In the bottom of the eighth, Stefany Valentino hit a game-ending grand slam after Utah Valley intentionally walked the bases loaded with one out to set up a force play at home.  After getting the second out of the inning at home, Valentino hit a full-count pitch for the walk-off grand slam.  The Rebels were out-hit 10 to seven, committed three errors to none for Utah Valley and lost a 5-1 lead, yet still prevailed.  Amanda Oliveto started the game, departed with the lead, re-entered later and ended up the winning pitcher.

Colorado State 10, New Mexico State 9 -- The Rams built a 10-2 lead in the fifth inning and appeared on the verge of run-ruling the Aggies, but New Mexico State rallied for seven unanswered runs in a wild game at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces.  Colorado State starting pitcher Kacie McCarthy, the 2012 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year, didn't make it out of the fifth after allowing eight hits and seven runs against a New Mexico State squad that finished last in the WAC a year ago.  The Rams used four pitchers in the contest as the teams combined for 19 runs, 28 hits and four errors.

Nevada 9, Portland State 1 (5 innings) -- Karlyn Jones tossed a complete-game, 3-hitter to knock off the Vikings at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Jones struck out five and walked one in a game that Nevada actually trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning.  A 7-run fourth inning set the tone for the game and helped the Wolf Pack snap a 3-game losing streak.  Sara Parsons' grand slam in the fourth was the monster hit of the game as all nine Wolf Pack batters in the lineup had at least one hit in a balanced effort.

Boise State 9, Texas-San Antonio 6 -- The homestanding Roadrunners tried to make it close in the UTSA Classic, but the Broncos prevailed.  It looked like a run-rule win for Boise State, which led 9-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning before UTSA rallied for five runs.  The Broncos scored three runs -- all with two outs -- in the third inning, and Devon Bridges added a home run.

Ohio University 11, UNLV 3 -- In a bizarre late game, the Rebels and pitcher Amanda Oliveto were cruising along with a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning when their fortunes turned in Las Vegas.  The Bobcats erupted for a 7-run sixth inning and pushed four more runs across in the seventh to rout UNLV.  By the time this one was over, the Rebels had freshman Jamie DePippo, who's listed as an infielder on the official roster, pitching.  Oliveto was making her eighth start in nine games.

Colorado State 17, UMKC 16 (9 innings) -- The last game of the day was the wildest and it didn't end until well after 11 p.m. local time in Las Cruces at the Troy Cox Classic.  Colorado State trailed by 12 runs, 14-2, in the bottom of the fourth inning and had to push runs across in the fifth just to avoid a run-rule loss.  But in the end, the Rams won it as McCarthy was forced into relief action to stop the bleeding and hold the Kangaroos offense.  Colorado State came from 16-14 down in the seventh and tied it on a 2-out, bases-loaded walk.  In the ninth, with the international tiebreak rule in effect, the Rams won it in a game so bizarre that words won't do it justice.  See the box score and game details for more.  Colorado State's two games Saturday saw a combined 52 runs scored.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Three Top 10 powers clip Aztecs, Bulldogs, Pack

Keilani Ricketts, Chelsea Thomas and Jolene Henderson are three of the nation's premier pitchers and they all showed why against Mountain West opponents Friday in tournament action.

Ricketts led No. 1/2 Oklahoma to a 4-0 win over San Diego State Friday evening at the Campbell-Cartier Classic hosted by the Aztecs.  Thomas powered No. 7/8 Missouri to a 4-0 win over Fresno State earlier in the day, and Henderson tossed a 1-hitter as No. 8/9 Cal beat Nevada 5-0.  It was a big day as the Mountain West took on the nation's best, and the Aztecs, Bulldogs and Wolf Pack all played well even in losing efforts in those contests against Top 10 teams.

Those were the three marquee games of 13 involving Mountain West softball teams today.  Elsewhere, Colorado State picked up victories over Big 12 and Big Ten teams, Boise State notched a win over the Big East, New Mexico won its first two games of the year, and UNLV picked up a win.

Friday's results:

#7/8 Missouri 4, Fresno State 0 -- Fresno State sent freshman pitcher Jill Compton up against one of college softball's premier pitchers in two-time First Team All-American senior Chelsea Thomas of Southeastern Conference power Missouri.  The unbeaten Tigers won their second game of the day and snapped the Bulldogs' 4-game winning streak with the win at Gaucho Classic I in Santa Barbara.  Kelsea Roth hit two home runs -- a 2-run shot in the second inning and a solo shot in the sixth -- and Nicole Hudson hit a solo homer in the fourth for the Tigers' only runs.  Compton allowed just six hits in the complete-game effort.  Freshman catcher Paige Gumz and junior first baseman Stesha Brazil had the Bulldogs' two hits in the game versus the All-American Thomas.  Compton (4-2) retired Missouri in order in both the first and third innings as she faced a Top 10-ranked opponent in only her second week of collegiate action.

#1/2 Oklahoma 4, San Diego State 0 -- Like Fresno State against Missouri, this one was a matchup of a freshman pitcher against an All-American as San Diego State's Danielle O'Toole went up against Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts.  The Sooners got nine hits against O'Toole, who went the distance, but Ricketts was her typical self with a shutout.  All three hits by the Aztecs came from the May sisters as Kristin had two and Kamerin added one.  That was it for SDSU as the unbeaten Sooners continued their impressive start to the season.  Oklahoma scored a pair of runs in the first and third innings against O'Toole, who was making only her second start as a collegian.  Her record fell to 0-2.

#8/9 California 5, Nevada 0 -- Jasmin Mejia hit a 3-run home run with two outs in the sixth inning to break open what had been a tight game and the Bears went on for the win at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Cal ace Jolene Henderson was all but untouchable in the game and Nevada was held hitless until freshman Megan Sweet singled to lead off the seventh inning.  Sophomore transfer pitcher Megan Dortch pitched well early, limiting Cal to just one hit before Mejia's blast to left in the sixth.  The Bears (3-2) finished with just four hits.

Boise State 3, Rutgers 1 -- Devon Bridges belted a 3-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the third inning as the Broncos topped the Scarlet Knights at the UTSA Roadrunners Tournament in San Antonio.  Bridges' blast accounted for Boise State's only runs of the day, and pitcher Rebecca Patton (2-1) grabbed the win by tossing a 4-hitter in five innings of action.  Lela Work pitched a pair of hitless innings to earn the save.  The Broncos had four hits in the game against Rutgers, which took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and left the bases loaded.  The Scarlet Knights were playing their season-opening contest, while Boise State snapped a 2-game losing streak.

Colorado State 6, Texas Tech 4 -- Senior pitcher Kacie McCarthy scattered eight hits and struck out 13 to lead the Rams over the Red Raiders at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces.  Chelsea Biglow, Kendal Butterfield, Ashlie Ortega and Cassy Mosser all had two hits in Colorado State's 9-hit attack.  Ortega had a double and three RBI, while Butterfield had a pair of RBI.  Texas Tech attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the potential tying run on base and potential winning run at the plate.  McCarthy fanned her 13th batter of the game, however, to end it.

Colorado State 10, Penn State 2 (5 innings) -- The Rams erupted for seven runs in the first inning on their way to a rout of the Nittany Lions, who were playing their season opener in Las Cruces, NM.  It was a nightmare opening inning of the season for Penn State as nothing went right.  Colorado State scored seven runs on just one hit -- a single -- in the first inning.  There were six walks, five wild pitches and three Nittany Lion errors that led to a disastrous start.  How bad was it?  With no outs in the second inning of its season, Penn State had already used three pitchers.  Both teams had five hits in the game, and CSU's Holly Reinke got the 5-inning win.

UNLV 5, Portland State 2 -- Junior pitcher Amanda Oliveto started her fifth consecutive game for the Rebels and narrowly missed a no-hitter in the win over the Vikings at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Oliveto held Portland State hitless through the game's first 6 2/3 innings before giving up a single, which was immediately followed by a 2-run home run to spoil the shutout bid.  UNLV put all five runs together in the third inning, with the key hit being a 2-run double off the bat of Jaexie Balilea.  Stefany Valentino had three of the Rebels' five hits in the contest, including an RBI double.

San Diego 2, Fresno State 1 -- Brenna Moss and Brooke Ortiz combined for four hits, but the rest of the Bulldog team went 0-for-18 at the plate as the offense struggled all day at the Gaucho Classic I.  Moss tripled to lead off the first inning, and Ortiz singled her home to give Fresno State a quick 1-0 lead in the game.  But that was it.  The Toreros scored twice in the top of the second when Bulldog freshman starter Hannah Harris walked three, including the eventual game-winning run.  Those were the only three walks of the game by either team.  Harris, who was coming off a 1-hitter she threw Wednesday, was pitching in her hometown of Santa Barbara. Freshman Taylor Langdon came on to replace Harris and tossed five scoreless innings.  Moss and Ortiz bunched their hits together again in the third, but Fresno State stranded runners at second and third base.  Jenny Lahitte, a First Team All-Pacific Coast Softball Conference pitcher a year ago, went the distance to pick up the win.  She retired the final 13 Bulldogs in order as Fresno State did not have a base runner after the third inning.

Idaho State 9, Nevada 6 -- The Wolf Pack squandered a 4-run lead and fell for the second time in a week to the Bengals during Friday action at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.  Nevada stormed to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to a grand slam by Sara Parsons.  The blast by Parsons followed a pair of walks and a Bengals error.  Idaho State rallied for three runs in both the first and second innings to take the lead before the Pack tied it 6-6. The Bengals again responded with a single run in the fifth and two more in the sixth against eventual losing pitcher Karlyn Jones, who entered in relief.  Idaho State, which pounded out 13 hits, has beaten Nevada on consecutive Fridays to begin the season.

Missouri State 6, Boise State 0 -- The Broncos finished with three hits against pitcher Chelsea Jones in a loss to the Bears of the Missouri Valley Conference at the UTSA Roadrunners Classic.  Broncos pitcher Kenzie Cole went the distance, allowing 10 hits, and picked up the loss.  Missouri State broke the game open with two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth.  The Bears entered the game -- their first in the tourney -- with a 1-4 record.  Boise State hadn't been shut out in a regular season game by an unranked opponent since UNLV did it on February 25, 2011.

New Mexico 11, Hampton 3 (6 innings) -- New Mexico erased a fifth inning deficit and run-ruled the Pirates to win its first game of the season in the Lobo Classic in Albquerque.  It was UNM's first victory following seven consecutive losses to begin the year.  Hampton dropped to 0-6.  The Lobos had scored only four runs in their first seven games combined, but broke out for a 7-run fifth inning and added three more in the sixth to run-rule Hampton.  Nykilah Torres hit a 3-run home run in the sixth inning that invoked the run rule, and New Mexico won despite committing five errors.  Carrie Sheehan was the winning pitcher.

New Mexico 4, Central Michigan 1 -- After winning their first game of the season earlier in the day, the Lobos came back to win their second, defeating the Chippewas at the Lobo Classic in Albuquerque.  Kaela DeBroeck scattered eight hits to earn the complete-game victory and had to survive a shaky seventh when Central Michigan loaded the bases and brought the potential game-winning run to the plate.  UNM had eight hits of its own, with freshman Mariah Rimmer leading the way with a pair of singles and two runs scored.  All eight Lobos hits in the contest were singles.

San Diego State 5, Cal Poly 2 -- In a game that didn't end until almost midnight local time Friday, the host Aztecs prevailed over the Mustangs in a game with a wild finish.  San Diego State scored three runs -- all with two outs in the seventh inning -- to snap a late tie.  With two outs and nobody on base in the top of the seventh inning, San Diego State's Kayla Jordan hit a solo home run that broke a 2-all tie.  From there, it was a Cal Poly meltdown.  A Mustangs error came on the next play, and it was followed by a single and a walk by pitcher Jordan Yates to load the bases.  Patrice Jackson then followed with a 2-run double that ended Yates' night.  Rebecca Arbino got the win, but Danielle O'Toole came on to get the save after the Mustangs had two hits and brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Aztecs fall, Rebels win in home tourney openers

Right-handed pitcher Kelsey Nunley held San Diego State to just three hits in a 4-0 win for No. 22/24 Kentucky on the opening day of the Campbell-Cartier Classic in San Diego.

The Aztecs didn't have many chances to score, but their best opportunity came in the sixth on a single, walk and Wildcat error.  Nunley was able to get Kristin May on an infield pop-up to end the frame and erase the bases-loaded threat for San Diego State.

Rebecca Arbino (3-2) took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 6+ innings.  With two runners aboard and no one out in the top of the seventh, the Aztecs trailed 2-0 when Coach Kathy Van Wyk summoned freshman Danielle O'Toole from the bullpen to replace Arbino.

O'Toole's first pitch was stroked for an RBI single up the middle, and another run later scored on a 2-out single.  Both were charged to Arbino.    

UNLV 2, San Jose State 1 -- In the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, the Rebels had just enough offense to get past the Spartans.  Tayler Aleman hit a 2-run home run in the first inning after Stefany Valentino walked, and those were the only runs the Rebels scored ... or needed.

For a long while, it looked like that would be UNLV's only hit of the game too.  The Rebels finished with just two hits in the contest against San Jose State senior pitcher Amanda Pridmore, who let that one pitch beat her.  UNLV's junior right-hander Amanda Oliveto did a good job keeping the Spartans off the scoreboard.

San Jose State had hits in every inning but the seventh, and out-hit the Rebels eight to two in the game.  Oliveto, however, did what she needed to keep the Spartans at bay.  San Jose State was foiled at numerous scoring opportunities.  The Spartans had two hits in the first inning and couldn't score, left two runners aboard in the second, left the bases loaded in the fifth, hit into a double play, and had runners thrown out at both second and third base to end threats in separate innings.

Oliveto won her third game of the season.  She has all of UNLV's victories.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fresno State sweeps Matadors, moves to 6-1

Freshman right-handed pitcher Jill Compton picked up her fourth win of the season as Fresno State defeated Cal State Northridge 3-2 in game one of a non-conference doubleheader sweep over the Matadors Wednesday at Bulldog Diamond.

For Compton, it was already her Mountain West-leading fourth pitching win of the season. So how does another freshman try to match that performance?  By throwing a complete-game, one-hitter.  That's how.

Freshman Hannah Harris followed up Compton's effort with a spectacular showing, allowing only one hit as Fresno State routed the Matadors 8-2 in the nightcap to complete the sweep.

The Bulldogs' eight runs were the most scored against Cal State Northridge this season, and the one hit allowed by Harris was the fewest in a game for CSUN in 2013.  Considering the competition the Matadors have faced -- including consensus Top 10-ranked teams Arizona State, Florida and California -- those are impressive feats for this young team of Bulldogs.

Freshman third baseman Whitney Smith contributed in a big way offensively with three hits on the day, including a double, and finished with two RBI.  She scored a pair of runs and reached base safely three times in four plate appearances in the nightcap.

Junior Stesha Brazil blasted her second home run of the season as part of the Bulldogs' 10-hit attack in the nightcap.  Brazil had a pair of extra-base hits, two RBI, scored three runs on the day, and also reached base safely three times in game two.

Fresno State hit three triples -- one from each of its starting outfielders -- in the doubleheader.  Sophomore right fielder Michelle Solomon hit her second triple of the season in the opening game, while left fielder Diane Runge and center fielder Brenna Moss hit theirs back to back in a 3-run fourth inning of the nightcap.  That pushed Fresno State's lead to 8-1, which was more than enough for Harris.

Harris and Compton arrived at Fresno State as two of the more heralded pitching recruits in a school known for its great pitching.  Harris (1-0), Compton (4-1) and fellow freshman Taylor Langdon (1-0) have all picked up wins as the Bulldogs have roared from the gate with a 6-1 start to the season.

In game one, Cal State Northridge looked strong early with four straight hits to begin the game before Compton settled into a groove.  The Matadors scored twice and had runners at second and third base in the top of the first inning with nobody out before the freshman worked out of her tightest jam of the game.

Fresno State quickly responded in the bottom half of the first inning in the opener by bunching together four hits of its own.  With one out, Brooke Ortiz singled and came home on an RBI double to left by Brazil.

Solomon then tripled, bringing home Brazil from second to knot the score at 2-2.  Still with just one out, Smith laced an RBI single up the middle for the Bulldogs' third run of the inning.  Fresno State, just like CSUN earlier in the frame, stranded base runners at second and third.

Neither team had much offense after that in the opener as a pitcher's duel broke out.  Fresno State's defense came up big time after time as the Bulldogs turned inning-ending double plays three times during a 4-inning stretch of the opening game.

Compton retired Northridge leadoff hitter Mia Pagano, who already had two hits in the game, to end the opener, keeping that potential tying run at second base.

In the nightcap, Harris allowed her only hit of the game -- a double -- in the fourth inning.  After scoring a single run that frame, CSUN scored a second run in the seventh inning after Harris walked a batter and hit two to load the bases.  A sacrifice fly plated the Matadors' final run without benefit of a hit.

In the nightcap, Fresno State scored two runs in the second inning and pushed three runs across in both the third and fourth innings to turn this one into a rout.

This was the second time in four days that Fresno State avenged a loss from a year ago.  After beating Sacramento State (a team that edged the 2012 Bulldogs team) on Sunday, Coach Trisha Ford's team got another bit of revenge today.  Cal State Northridge knocked off last season's Bulldogs team 8-5 at a tournament in San Diego.

The Bulldogs now head to Santa Barbara for this weekend's UCSB Tournament where they'll meet the host Gauchos, along with No. 7/8 Missouri and San Diego.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week 2 preview: Several ranked teams on deck

Week two of the 2013 college softball season is about to get underway and we'll have five days in a row of action involving Mountain West teams.

Fresno State, off to a conference-best 4-1 start, gets things started with its first home weekday afternoon games in years.  The Bulldogs will host Cal State Northridge in a doubleheader set to begin at 3 p.m. local time Wednesday, three hours earlier than weekday home games have traditionally started at Fresno State.

For one of the nation's top home softball draws (Fresno State drew 3,524 fans for its home tourney last weekend), it's an odd weekday start time, and one not seen at home for many years.  We'll see if attendance figures are affected by a unique 3 p.m. weekday start.

The Bulldogs will see a significantly tougher group of opponents this weekend than it did last week.  Headlining the list:  Southeastern Conference member Missouri and its All-American ace pitcher Chelsea Thomas.  Missouri enters the week ranked seventh and eighth in the two major polls.  Also on tap for the Bulldogs at the UC Santa Barbara Tournament are the host Gauchos, who are unbeaten (5-0) after sweeping their competition to win the Louisiana-Monroe tourney last weekend.

San Diego State, which today received six votes in the Softball poll to rank 30th, hosts its annual Campbell-Cartier Classic against an impressive field.  It doesn't get any tougher than the Oklahoma Sooners, led by National Player of the Year candidate Keilani Ricketts.  The Aztecs will face unbeaten (5-0) OU, which is ranked first and second in the national polls, in their second game of the tournament on Friday after opening play against Kentucky.

The Wildcats moved into both national polls today based on a 3-1 record last weekend over Pac-12 teams.  Kentucky, No. 22 and 24 in this week's rankings, upset both Cal and Stanford last week, but were also upset themselves by Portland State.

Nevada, which went 3-2 in its opening weekend as a member of Mountain West softball, travels to Las Vegas to compete in UNLV's Easton Desert Classic.  There, the Wolf Pack will face Cal (2-2), which fell five spots in one poll and six in another this week.  The Bears are eighth and ninth in the two national polls after being third a week ago.

In Las Vegas, the Wolf Pack will also get an up-close look at a familiar foe in No. 20/23 Hawai'i (5-1), their former Western Athletic Conference foe.  Nevada dealt the Rainbow Wahine a loss a year ago and would like to do it again against a team that is much different on the mainland than it is at home.  Nevada and Hawai'i meet on Sunday, the final day of that Vegas tourney.

Elsewhere, Boise State looks to pile up wins at the UTSA Classic in San Antonio, UNLV spends a second straight weekend at home in tournament play against a manageable field, Colorado State travels to Las Cruces for the Troy Cox Classic, and New Mexico looks for its first win of the season at its own Lobo Classic in Albuquerque.

This week's games:

Fresno State (4-1)

Cal State Northridge (1-4), Wednesday, 3 pm PT
Cal State Northridge, Wednesday, 5 pm PT
#7/8 Missouri (0-0), Friday, 10:30 am PT
San Diego (1-1), Friday, 1 pm PT
at UC Santa Barbara (5-0), Saturday, 9 am PT
#7/8 Missouri, Saturday, 11:15 am PT
San Diego, Sunday, 11:15 am PT

Outlook:  One of the Bulldogs' marquee wins in recent years came in a February tournament two years ago when they knocked off then-No. 8 Missouri.  Can history repeat itself?  Despite a 4-1 record last weekend, Fresno State didn't pick up any attention-grabbing wins and would love to get some this week.  There was a lot to like last weekend, especially for such a young team with a new coaching staff.  All four pitching wins came from freshmen, and Jill Compton emerged as a go-to pitcher with three victories in her collegiate debut.  A key this week could be finding additional time in the circle for others besides Compton.  Quality at-bats occurred more often than in recent seasons as Fresno State made opposing pitchers work, and Bulldog hitters ended up walking a league-high 21 times.  Coach Trisha Ford utilized her squad's overall speed to the tune of a Mountain West-high nine stolen bases on the opening weekend of play.  To consider how staggering that number is for a Fresno State softball program, consider this:  In only three days of action, Fresno State is already half-way to its total number of stolen bases from last year's entire season.  In 2012, the Bulldogs had just 18 stolen bases as a team.  Coming out with intensity in every game -- and not just some -- will be key, especially against underrated teams like UCSB and San Diego.  The Toreros, as well as Wednesday's opponent Cal State Northridge, beat Fresno State a year ago.  Those non-conference defeats played a role in the school being denied its first NCAA bid in more than three decades.  Northridge's record is skewed right now since three of its losses came against Top 10 powers Arizona State, Florida and Cal.

San Diego State (3-2)

#22/24 Kentucky (4-2), Thursday, 6 pm PT
#1/2 Oklahoma (5-0), Friday, 6 pm PT
Cal Poly (1-4), Friday, 8:15 pm PT
Notre Dame (2-2), Saturday, 6 pm PT
UC Riverside (2-3), Sunday, 1:30 pm PT

Outlook:  If the Aztecs are going to be a 2013 NCAA Tournament team, as most predict they will be, a win over a team like Kentucky (especially at home in San Diego) could be important if an at-large bid becomes necessary.  The Aztecs went 3-2 on the opening weekend of play, but the three wins came over teams who went a combined 3-13 last week.  Oklahoma is the toughest possible opponent no matter where the game is going to be played, but if Ricketts is the opposing pitcher, it becomes extremely difficult.  While it's a longshot, a win over the Sooners is the type of marquee win few teams will have when Selection Sunday rolls around.  Lorena Bauer and Rebecca Arbino earned Mountain West Player and Pitcher of the Week honors, respectively, for their performances last weekend. Arbino's three pitching wins matched Fresno State's Compton for the highest total among all MW pitchers on the opening weekend.  And Bauer already has four home runs after just five games, along with nine RBI.  She has a 1.250 slugging percentage.  Notre Dame began the season just outside the Top 25 and was the next-highest ranked team (USA Today/NFCA poll) receiving votes before going 2-2 last weekend.  The Irish lost twice to a middling Big Ten team in Wisconsin and lost all 43 votes they received in that preseason poll.  Cal Poly struggled last week, with its lone win coming over 0-7 New Mexico.  UC Riverside went 2-3 at the Fresno State Kick-Off and fell to the host Bulldogs 7-3.  It will be interesting to see how San Diego State fares over the final three games of the weekend after facing its two toughest opponents in its first couple of contests on a top-heavy weekend slate.

Nevada (3-2)

Idaho State (2-3), Friday, 9 am PT
#8/9 California (2-2), Friday, 11:15 am PT
Long Beach State (2-1), Saturday, 3:15 pm PT
Portland State (2-4), Saturday, 6 pm PT
#20/23 Hawai'i (5-1), Sunday, 1:30 pm PT

Outlook:  There are a pair of ranked foes here and some intriguing match-ups.  The game versus Hawai'i should be a great one for several reasons.  For one, the teams are no longer meeting as conference rivals after both departed the WAC after last season.  Also, Nevada's biggest win a year ago was a shutout victory over the Rainbow Wahine and ace Stephanie Ricketts in a game played in Reno.  Senior Kaia Parnaby is now Hawai'i's No. 1 pitcher and has started four games against Nevada in her career -- all complete-game victories.  With Parnaby never having lost to the Wolf Pack, and with Nevada returning every player who got a hit in its win over Hawai'i last year, something has to give.  Cal, on Friday morning, could tell us a lot about both teams.  The Bears, ranked No. 3 in the preseason and favored to win the Pac-12 by conference coaches, had a disappointing opening weekend, falling twice.  Long Beach State was selected to finish second in the Big West behind Hawai'i and had a fairly standard opening weekend, beating Cal State Bakersfield and Wright State, but being run-ruled by Texas A&M in five innings.  Idaho State offers a rematch of a game Nevada would like back from last weekend.  The Bengals, picked to finish last in the Big Sky, surprised the Pack at the Red Desert Classic.  If Nevada falls to Idaho State again this weekend, it could be an early red flag.  Portland State has a deceiving 2-4 record after knocking off Kentucky and Boise State last week.

Boise State (2-3)

Rutgers (0-0), Friday, 9 am CT
Missouri State (1-4), Friday, 2 pm CT
Iowa State (4-1), Saturday, 9 am CT
UTSA (1-2), Saturday, 11:30 am CT
Rutgers, Sunday, 9 am CT

Outlook:  Boise State got what looked like a big win Saturday, defeating the Big Ten's Northwestern Wildcats in an 11-3 romp.  But after Northwestern finished with an 0-5 record for the weekend and the Broncos were run-ruled in consecutive losses to ranked opponents Sunday, the jury may still be out on Boise State.  On paper, this isn't a great bunch of opponents, but it's still early in the season and a little difficult to know.  Rutgers finished 26-28 last year and won't open its season until Friday.  Missouri State (1-4) allowed 37 runs last weekend and lost a pair of games to Coastal Carolina and a single game to Kennesaw State.  Texas-San Antonio, selected to finish fourth in a watered-down WAC this year, took it on the chin twice to a Lamar team that had not played a softball game in 26 years.  Lamar resurrected its softball program after discontinuing it in 1987 and still managed to take two of three from UTSA.  Iowa State is a Big 12 team, but the Cyclones have had one winning season (1995) in the last 23 years and were again predicted by conference coaches to finish last this year.  ISU went 4-1 against a soft schedule of opponents last weekend, defeating teams such as North Dakota and South Dakota State, and falling to IPFW.  After gaining valuable experience last week against high-powered opposition, it's not only possible, but probable, that Boise State turns in a 5-0 or 4-1 weekend against this group.

Colorado State (2-3)

Penn State (0-0), Friday, 9 am MT
Texas Tech (3-2), Friday, 11:30 am MT
at New Mexico State (3-1), Saturday, 4 pm MT
Mo.-Kansas City (3-1), Saturday, 6 pm MT
at New Mexico State, Sunday, 11:30 am MT

Outlook:  On the second weekend of play, the Rams play a schedule that looks similar to what they played last week.  There were no ranked opponents for Colorado State to start the season and there are none this week as well.  However, it's a solid group that will test CSU pitching.  Traditionally strong Penn State hasn't played a game yet and is trying to bounce back from a very down season a year ago when the Nittany Lions went 18-32.  Texas Tech and New Mexico State are traditionally heavy-hitting teams and the Red Raiders look formidable again.  Texas Tech scored 34 runs at last week's Sportco Kick-Off in Las Vegas, including a 10-6 win over host UNLV.  And while New Mexico State unexpectedly finished last in the WAC in 2012, much of it was due to injuries.  The Aggies are predicted to finish third in the WAC this year and should be improved.  NMSU notched a 3-0 shutout win over New Mexico on Sunday.  Mo.-Kansas City comes in at 3-1 on the young season but the wins came over the likes of North Carolina-Central, Maine and Western Carolina.  Where CSU will need to improve this week is on the defensive end.  The Rams committed a Mountain West-high 16 errors in their five games on opening weekend and currently have a woeful fielding percentage of .906.  Those miscues meant that half of the runs Colorado State allowed last week (11 of 22) were unearned.

UNLV (2-3)

San Jose State (4-2), Thursday, 6:45 pm PT
Seattle (4-1), Friday, 1:30 pm PT
Portland State (2-4), Friday, 3:45 pm PT
Utah Valley (4-1), Saturday, 3:45 pm PT
Ohio U. (4-1), Saturday, 6 pm PT
Utah (2-3), Sunday, 1:30 pm PT

Outlook:  The Rebels began the Lisa Dodd coaching era with a bang, sending Louisville to a surprising 10-1, run-rule defeat.  After the Cardinals ripped off four straight wins following that loss, UNLV's win looks even better now.  That's not to say there weren't disappointments or concerns after one weekend.  Dodd will likely use weekend two of the season to see if anyone wants to secure the role of No. 2 pitcher behind ace Amanda Oliveto, who picked up both wins last week.  Pitching was an adventure for much of last weekend as the Rebels allowed nine or more runs in three games, and lost a 9-run lead in a game they eventually won against Central Florida 12-10 in extra innings.  After starting the game against UCF and leaving with a 9-0 lead, Oliveto was forced to re-enter and pick up the win in extra innings. Later that same night, she threw an additional 182 pitches and walked 11, going the distance in a loss to Texas Tech. This weekend's slate isn't as daunting as last week's.  Future Mountain West member San Jose State has a strong pitcher in Amanda Pridmore and will provide a stern test if the pitching matchup is Pridmore vs. Oliveto.  Seattle, predicted to finish last in the WAC this year by conference coaches, had a surprisingly strong opening weekend and picked up upsets over Oklahoma State and Utah.  Utah Valley also beat Oklahoma State and run-ruled Nevada last weekend, and Ohio U. earned a couple of wins on the road at East Carolina.

New Mexico (0-7)

Hampton (0-4), Friday, 3:45 pm MT
Central Michigan (0-0), Friday, 6 pm MT
Hampton, Saturday, 9 am MT
Bradley (2-3), Saturday, 11:15 am MT
IPFW (2-2), Sunday, 11 am MT
Central Michigan (0-0), 1 pm MT

Outlook:  The first weekend of the season is one New Mexico would like to forget after going 0-7 and being outscored a staggering 45-4.  UNM was shut out four times in its first seven games, and scored more than a single run in a game just once.  With a team pitching ERA of 7.00, that would never cut it.  Dating to last season, New Mexico has lost 22 of its past 25 games.  There may be no better way to change things than by facing this slate of opponents in Albuquerque, though, as UNM hosts the Lobo Classic.  Hampton is traditionally one of the weakest softball programs in the country (RPI of 263 a year ago among 289 Division I teams).  The Lobos will have two games this weekend to try to remedy things against the Pirates, who were shut out themselves in three of their four games last weekend.  IPFW is 2-2 with losses to Northern Colorado and Indiana State last weekend, while Central Michigan hasn't played a game yet in 2013.  Also on deck this weekend is Bradley, which posted one of the biggest upsets of last weekend.  The Braves, who haven't had a winning season since 2007, shocked Arizona 2-1 at the Kajikawa Classic on Friday, suggesting they could make some noise in the Missouri Valley Conference this year, despite being selected to finish seventh by league coaches.  Not only should New Mexico pick up its first win of the season against this group of opponents, but considering the Lobos are at home, they should come out with a winning weekend.