Saturday, February 28, 2015

SATURDAY: High-profile Pac-12 teams beat Bulldogs, Spartans, Aztecs


Eleven games took place Saturday in Mountain West softball, highlighted by Fresno State retiring the jersey number of former Olympian and Bulldog All-American Laura Berg before the Bulldog game with Oregon State. Check back for continued updates.

Oregon State 16, Fresno State 12 - On a night that Fresno State retired the jersey of its most decorated softball player in history, the Bulldogs were part of a record-breaking performance.  And not in a great way.  Oregon State, behind head coach and Fresno State softball alum Laura Berg, scored the most runs an opponent had ever scored on the Bulldogs' home field.  The 28 combined runs also matched the Fresno State record for games played in any location.  The Bulldogs were off from the start in a game that featured a lengthy pre-game ceremony honoring Berg, complete with fireworks and unveiling of her jersey number atop the press box at Margie Wright Diamond.  It took more than 50 pitches for the Bulldogs to get the game's second out as OSU put up five runs in the first.  To its credit, Fresno State battled repeatedly, at one point bringing the tying run to the plate in the fourth inning after getting behind 16-7.  Michelle Solomon and Kierra Willis both hit home runs, and Solomon now has eight hits and eight RBI the past three games.  Solomon had three hits and two RBI, while Willis and freshman Katie Castellon also had a pair of RBI.  Hannah Harris, the Bulldogs' fourth pitcher to enter the game, kept the Bulldogs in it with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just three hits.  Fresno State committed a season-high four errors, and now has 13 in its five losses this season.  Oregon State (15-5) won its fifth straight, while the Bulldogs (13-5) saw their 5-game game win streak snapped.  While OSU's 16 runs are the most ever scored in Fresno against the Bulldogs, the Beavers fell two runs shy of the all-time opponents' mark of 18 runs, scored by Hawai'i in Honolulu in the 2007 season.

California 3, San Jose State 2 - The Spartans gave the Bears all they could handle before Cal scored a run in the seventh to win it.  Allison Lang issued a leadoff walk to begin the seventh inning and it would prove to be critical.  That run ended up being the game-winner when Cheyenne Cordes and Danielle Henderson hit back to back singles immediately following the walk.  SJSU was hitting Cal starter Katie Sutherland-Finch early, but after the Spartans tied it up 2-2 in the fourth, the Bears turned to ace Stephanie Trzcinski, who allowed just one single and shut them down the final three innings.  San Jose State was retired in order in the bottom of the seventh.  Eight different Spartans had one hit each in the game.  Unranked to begin the season, Cal has now won 16 of its first 17 games this year, and currently sits at No. 19 in the USA Today / NFCA coaches poll.

Oregon 7, San Diego State 3 - In San Diego, the Ducks got out to a 6-run lead and cruised to a win over the Aztecs.  Kayla Jordan played a part in all three San Diego State runs.  After Oregon got in front 6-0, she doubled in the bottom of the third inning, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch.  Oregon made it 7-1 in the fifth and the Ducks removed starter Cheridan Hawkins and replaced her with Georgia transfer Geri Ann Glasco.  Just after entering, Glasco gave up a Sam Camello single, and Jordan followed with a 2-run homer to complete the scoring.  SDSU had two hits against Hawkins.  San Diego State lost its 11th straight game to a Top 25-ranked team. The second-ranked Ducks improved to 16-2 on the season.

San Diego State 3, Iowa State 0 - Erica Romero scattered six hits in a complete-game shutout over the Cyclones.  San Diego State had six hits as well, with Jenavee Peres continuing a hot streak with a 2-run homer in the fourth.  Taylor Stewart added an RBI single as six different Aztecs finished with a hit.

UNLV 2, Louisiana-Monroe 1 - In Las Vegas, the Rebels got an RBI double by Garie Blando in the bottom of the fifth to snap a 1-1 tie on their way to a win over the Warhawks.  Francesca Foti had two of UNLV's six hits.  Morgan Ettinger earned the win, tossing a complete game and giving up five hits.

Cal State Fullerton 2, Boise State 0 - Christina Washington pitched a complete-game 4-hitter and shut out the Broncos.  Boise State finished the weekend with a 2-3 tournament record and lost to the Titans for the second time this season.  The two will meet again March 13.

Colorado State 7, Bryant 1 - All eight runs scored in this one were unearned as the Rams and Bulldogs combined for six errors.  Five of the miscues were on Bryant's end, including four from two different players at the shortstop position, leading to all seven Colorado State runs.  After Bryant (3-4) shortstop Ashley Dipietrantonio committed her second error of the game in the fifth inning, she was pulled and replaced at short by Rachel Monroe.  Immediately upon entering, Monroe committed a pair of errors herself in the fifth, just prior to Jaelyn Manzaneres hitting a 3-run home run for CSU.  Those were the Rams' only RBI in the game and capped a 6-run inning.  Holly Reinke scattered four hits to improve to 3-8 on the season.

UTEP 9, Colorado State 8 - The Rams couldn't hold a 5-run lead and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Miners, who had lost 11 straight games entering this one.  Colorado State was in front 5-0 before UTEP came to bat after four consecutive RBI hits came with two outs in the top of the first.  The Miners scored once in the bottom of the frame and added a 6-run second inning to take the lead.  After CSU pulled into a 7-all tie in the fifth, a 2-run homer off Rams pitcher Molly Randle put UTEP ahead to stay.  The Miners won for just the third time this season in 19 games.

Nevada 23, Southern Illinois 9 (5 innings) - In Puerto Vallarta, the Wolf Pack snapped a 9-game losing streak by pounding the Salukis (3-8-1).  Nevada had 20 hits in a wild game that featured a little bit of everything:  4 errors, 14 walks, 3 hit batters, 3 home runs, 4 stolen bases, a slew of wild pitches and much, much more.  Amanda Weis had a pair of doubles and a homer to finish with six RBI.  She, Karley Hopkins and Danielle Wiltz all had four hits for Nevada against a Southern Illinois team that gave up 54 runs in three days in Puerto Vallarta.  Nevada bounced back from a Friday loss to SIU in the only game the Salukis won on this trip to Mexico.  Chase Redington got the win in relief for the Pack.

Northern Colorado 6, Nevada 4 - The Wolf Pack lost to the Bears (5-5-1) for a second day in a row, wrapping up a 1-4 weekend in Puerto Vallarta.  Nevada got out to a 4-run lead, but couldn't hold it as UNC scored the game's final six runs.  Karley Hopkins and Amanda Nicholas had two hits to lead Nevada.

Late night - UNLV vs. Idaho State - Check back for updates.  Game was slated to begin at approximately 10 pm Pacific time.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fresno State scores 21 runs in 2 Friday routs; Aztecs, Broncos win 2

Rutgers-Fresno State lineups, courtesy Rutgers Athletics

Tournament play continued around the Mountain West with 13 games on Friday.  Fresno State continued to roll on offense, picking up two more wins, including one over the Big Ten, to run the Bulldogs' winning streak to five consecutive games.  San Diego State and Boise State won twice.  And UNLV picked up a big victory to highlight Friday's action.

Fresno State 7, UC Santa Barbara 2 - At the Louisville Slugger Bash, the Bulldogs pushed five runs across in the second inning and coasted to a win over the Gauchos.  Michelle Solomon had a pair of hits and two RBI, Alyssa Villalpando had two hits, and Brenna Moss had a hit and two RBI in the Bulldogs' fourth consecutive win.  Freshman Katie Castellon had a 2-hit game, while Jill Compton picked up her seventh win.

Fresno State 14, Rutgers 1 (5 innings) - The Bulldogs' high-powered offense was on display again as they scored in every inning of a 14-1 thrashing of the Scarlet Knights.  Fresno State won its fifth straight game and set a school record for triples in a game with four.  In the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs scored seven runs and hit three triples in the inning as Villalpando, Kierra Willis and Bria Kennedy all hit three-baggers.  Willis accomplished a rare feat, tripling twice in the game, including one that brought three runs home with the bases loaded in the second.  Solomon continued what she started in game one with a 6 RBI day, including four in this game.  She, along with Moss and Kennedy all had three hits, while Willis had four RBI.  Taylor Langdon allowed no earned runs and four hits to move her pitching record to 2-0 with the victory.

San Diego State 13, St. John's 8 - The host Aztecs stormed to a 10-0 lead in the third inning and then saw the Red Storm come back with eight straight to make it a 10-8 game just an inning later.  Erica Romero started, was pulled for Sydnee Cable, and Romero was later re-inserted after St. John's rallied.  The Red Storm committed six errors that led to eight unearned runs for San Diego State.  Taylor Stewart had three hits and three RBI, while Lorena Bauer had a pair of hits and three RBI.

San Diego State 8, Cal Poly 2 - Freshman Jenavee Peres had three hits and two RBI, while Bauer, Kayla Jordan and Sydnee Cable had two hits apiece in the home win over the Mustangs.  A 5-run fifth inning proved to be the difference as SDSU got to Cal Poly starter Lindsey Chalmers.  Erica Romero picked up her eighth win of the season, scattering seven hits. 

San Jose State 6, Longwood 4 (8 innings) - In Honolulu, the Spartans scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning with the international tiebreak rule in effect during a win over the Lancers.  Nicole Schultz singled home the base runner placed at second base to begin the inning with the ITB in effect.  Sharon-Renae Estrada's sacrifice fly scored the second run of that important eighth inning.  Jessie Hufstetler hit a pair of solo homers to finish with two RBI.  Madison Fish picked up the win in relief after Longwood tied the contest with a pair in the sixth.

Hawai'i 14, San Jose State 1 (5 innings) - This one was over nearly as soon as it began as the Rainbow Wahine hit a pair of grand slams in the first inning to break it wide open.  Leisha Li'ili'i hit a grand slam off SJSU starter Katelyn Linford, who was replaced in the frame by Colette Riggs, who allowed another to Lindsey Willmon. Normally hot-hitting San Jose State was held to three hits by UH pitcher Kanani Aina Cabrales.

UNLV 12, DePaul 4 (5 innings) - In Las Vegas, the Rebels run-ruled the Blue Demons with the help of a 7-run inning.  DePaul led 4-0 early, but UNLV scored the game's final 12 runs.  In a deceiving stat in a run-rule game, both teams finished with nine hits.  Garie Blando's 2-run home run in the bottom of the fifth invoked the run rule and she finished with four RBI and three hits.  Merina Ili was the other Rebel with multiple hits; she had two.  Morgan Ettinger (3-4) picked up the win over the Demons (6-9).

UC Riverside 7, Colorado State 1 - Pitcher Holly Reinke saw her record drop to 2-8 as the Rams fell to the Highlanders (12-4) in Tucson.  Colorado State had nine hits, but committed four errors and left 11 runners on base. UC Riverside scored in five different innings and scored the game's first four runs.  The Rams cut the margin to 4-1 in the fourth when Savannah Clark doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Hutton.

Arizona 6, Colorado State 3 - After struggling in the loss to the Highlanders early in the day, the Rams pushed the 15th-ranked Wildcats later Friday.  CSU got solo home runs from Danielle Wikre and Savannah Clark in the top of the seventh inning to cut the margin to 6-3.  The Rams put the potential tying run at first and had the bases loaded when the game ended.  CSU out-hit Arizona 10 to eight but stranded 14 base runners in the contest.  Freshman Trinity Harrington scattered eight hits in six innings of work and took the loss.

Boise State 9, Portland State 3 - The Broncos rallied from a 2-1 deficit and scored the game's final eight runs to defeat the Vikings.  Ashley Palmer hit a home run and Teauna Hughes had three hits and two RBI.  Rachel Rodriguez went the distance, allowing six hits.

Northern Colorado 2, Nevada 1 - The Bears hit a 2-run homer in the first inning and it held up for a win over the Wolf Pack in Puerto Vallarta.  The loss was Nevada's eighth in a row.  This game marked the sixth time this season the Pack out-hit its opponent in a loss.  Nevada had seven hits to just three for UNC (4-5-1).  Amanda Weis' RBI single in the sixth put the Wolf Pack on the board.

Boise State 9, Weber State 8 - The Broncos took a 3-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning and survived a late Wildcats (6-6) rally for the win.  Rodriguez came on to earn the save as Weber State had both the potential tying and game-winning runs in scoring position when the game ended on a groundout.

Southern Illinois 6, Nevada 5 (8 innings) - The Wolf Pack rallied to tie the game 5-5 on a 2-run home run by Megan Sweet in the bottom of the seventh inning, but fell short in another heartbreaker.  After SIU went in front via the international tiebreak rule in the top of the eighth, Nevada was unable to answer in the bottom half of the inning.  Pitcher McKenna Isenberg fell to 0-7 on the season.

Thursday a day of missed opportunities as Broncos, Rebels, Wolf Pack fall

Thursday was a not-so-great beginning to the weekend for Boise State, Nevada and UNLV.  The three combined to go 0-4, losing heartbreaker after heartbreaker ... Boise State was one out away from a win over Wichita State before the Shockers strung together four consecutive hits, including a walk-off, 2-run homer for a 4-2 win.  Later in the day, Seattle posted a 4-3 win in eight innings over the Broncos, with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  The Redhawks' winning run was scored by Seattle's Rose Saenz, who spent her first two years of college at Boise State ... In Las Vegas, UNLV lost a 1-0 game to New Mexico State when the host Rebels were handcuffed by Aggies hurler Karysta Donisthorpe.  UNLV had just two singles in the game, but stayed in it as pitchers Morgan Ettinger and Kwyn Cooper got out of jam after jam. NMSU stranded14 base runners, including nine in scoring position. The Aggies left the bases loaded in each of the first three innings ... In Puerto Vallarta, Nevada saw its losing streak reach seven games with a 7-5 loss to BYU.  The game marked the fifth time this season the Pack out-hit an opponent in a loss, as Nevada had nine hits to BYU's six.  The teams combined for 14 walks and the Pack stranded 14 base runners.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bulldogs on the verge of Top 25, coming in at No. 29 this week

For the first time this season, a Mountain West team saw its name show up in both major Top 25 polls when they were released Tuesday morning.

Following a 4-1 weekend at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Fresno State received votes today in both the newly-released USA Today/NFCA coaches Top 25 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls.

The Bulldogs have seven votes to come in at No. 29 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.  In the USA Today/NFCA poll, the Bulldogs have one vote to rank 36th.  Trisha Ford's Bulldogs are the first MW team to appear in the coaches poll this season.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresno State offense roars again in 2 more routs; Aztecs snap losing skid


The weekend concluded with 12 games featuring Mountain West teams Sunday on getaway day.  Fresno State completed one of the more impressive weekends in Mountain West softball history with a 4-1 record at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs.  The Bulldogs pounded out 47 runs on 63 hits, including 24 runs and 28 hits today alone, in dismantling two Big XII teams (Texas and Oklahoma State), a Pac-12 team in Stanford, and Loyola-Marymount of the West Coast Conference.

Also today, San Diego State and Utah State broke lengthy losing streaks and came up with wins.  UNLV picked up a pair of victories, and New Mexico capped a winning weekend in Houston.

Sunday's results:

Fresno State 16, Oklahoma State 4 - How did the Bulldogs follow up their eight runs in a win over Texas and their 13 runs and 16 hits in Saturday's win over Stanford?  With a staggering 16 runs and 20 hits in a rout of the Cowgirls from the Big XII Conference.  Fresno State's offense continued an amazing onslaught that revved up in earnest a week ago.  The Bulldogs' 1 thru 7 hitters in the lineup all finished with multiple hits for a second consecutive game, combining to go 19-for-31 (.613) with 12 RBI and 13 runs scored.  Bria Kennedy had a career-high four hits, including two doubles and an RBI.  Alyssa Villalpando and Kierra Willis continued their hot streaks with three hits apiece, five combined RBI and home runs for both in consecutive games.  Brenna Moss, Malia Rivers and Michelle Solomon all had two hits, while Jill Compton got the complete-game win, scattering seven hits and striking out four.  The 16 total runs, 20 hits, and 10 runs in one inning were each the most the Cowgirls have given up this season in their respective categories.

Fresno State 8, Loyola Marymount 0 (5 innings) - Hannah Harris (4-0) pitched a complete-game shutout and the Bulldogs erupted with another of what's become their signature huge innings.  Fresno State scored six times in the fifth inning to win going away in a rout.  The first two batters of the fifth - Willis and Paige Gumz - walked.  Villalpando singled a run home and the Bulldogs loaded the bases again on a walk to Kennedy.  After an RBI by Whitney Smith, it was Rivers who cleared the bases with a hit to the outfield that was misplayed for an error, and the bases were cleared.  Harris retired the side in the bottom of the frame and the Bulldogs had outscored their opponents 24-4 for the day.  Six Bulldogs completed the Mary Nutter Classic hitting .400 or better, including Willis, Villalpando and Rivers, who hit .563, .550 and .526, respectively.  Moss raised her overall batting average this season to .472.  

San Diego State 11, Stanford 5 - The Aztecs snapped their 4-game losing streak with a win over the Cardinal.  A day after Stanford gave up 13 runs and 16 hits to Fresno State, the Aztecs had 12 hits and 11 runs.  Jenavee Peres delivered the biggest blow with a grand slam in the fourth inning after Stanford pitchers issued four walks in the inning. 

Utah State 3, Michigan State 2 - After several heartbreaking defeats and late-inning meltdowns, the tide turned for the Aggies, who snapped a 5-game losing streak.  Noelle Johnson came up with a clutch 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving Utah State its first and only lead of the game.  In the seventh, the Spartans (8-6) put the tying run on base but were unable to score.  The Aggies improved to 2-12 on the season, with both wins coming over Big Ten teams.

UNLV 18, UC Santa Barbara 10 (5 innings) - In a wild game in Palm Springs, the Rebels lost a 3-run lead before rebounding from a 4-run deficit and run-ruled the Gauchos.  This one featured a slew of mistakes as the two teams combined for eight errors that led to an astonishing 16 unearned runs.  Emily Haslinger hit two home runs and Garie Blando one as UNLV came back from a 9-5 deficit entering the bottom of the fourth.  Blando and Emilie Valadez had four hits apiece to lead the Rebels.  UCSB (3-11) lost its eighth consecutive game.

New Mexico 6, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 2 - The Lobos completed a 4-1 weekend at the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic by defeating the Islanders for the second time.  Jasmine Casados had three hits, including a homer, and three RBI, while Mariah Rimmer had an RBI double.  Also homering against Corpus Christi (2-12-1) was Brandi Heimburg.  Carrie Sheehan earned the complete-game win, striking out three and scattering five hits.  UNM moved a game above .500 at 8-7 overall.

Boise State 7, Indiana State 6 (8 innings) - The Broncos scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning with the international tiebreak rule in effect, and then held on as the Sycamores (2-7) scored two in the bottom of the frame in a wild one in Tempe.  Boise State was up 3-1 for a while in this one before Indiana State tied it.  The Broncos went ahead 4-3 in the top of the seventh on a solo homer by Kayla Clausen, but ISU tied it with two outs in the bottom of the inning.  Three runs, aided by a Sycamores error in the eighth, won it for Boise State, which concluded a 1-4 weekend.

UNLV 3, Cal Poly 0 - Samantha Juarez had a 2-run double in the top of the first inning against Cal Poly starter Lindsey Chalmers and that was all the duo of Kwyn Cooper and Morgan Ettinger would need.  Ettinger closed it out, going the last four innings allowing three hits after Cooper pitched the first three frames.  UNLV had seven hits to five for the Mustangs (7-8).

Minnesota 8, Colorado State 5 - The Rams lost a heartbreaker in Tempe when Minnesota rallied for a late win.  Things started out well for Colorado State against a Gophers team that started Nikki Anderson in the circle and replaced her with sophomore Hannah Evavold, who had never pitched in a collegiate game until entering in the second inning.  Evavold was gone -- without recording an out -- after giving up a wild pitch, two walks (one of which forced in a run) and a 2-run single to freshman Savannah Clark.  Colorado State was in front 5-1 before the Gophers turned to Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Sara Groenewegen, who shut down the Rams from that point.  Minnesota (13-1) rallied for seven straight runs, including three in the seventh on a single and outfield error.

San Jose St. 7, Seattle U. 5 - In Santa Clara, the Spartans fought back from a 3-0 deficit to pick up the Mountain West's fourth win in three weeks over the Redhawks (5-9).  It was San Jose State's second win this season over Seattle.  Emma Entzminger's double accounted for the Spartans' only extra-base hit on a day where they hit nine singles.  The Redhawks' four errors were costly and the difference in the game.  Six of the Spartans' seven runs were unearned.  Madison Fish got the win and Allison Lang the one-out save as she induced a groundout to end the game when Seattle had the tying run at the plate.

Syracuse 6, Nevada 0 - In Palm Springs, the Wolf Pack were shut out by the Orange and had five hits.  Danille Wiltz led Nevada with a pair of hits and both teams stranded 11 base runners apiece.

Cal State Fullerton 9, Nevada 1 (5 innings) - The Titans got some revenge for an earlier loss this season to the Wolf Pack with a victory in Palm Springs.  Cal State Fullerton (8-6) smacked a grand slam in the third to go up 9-0 and basically put the game away.  Nevada freshman Chase Redington started and took the loss, and the Pack went 0-5 at the Mary Nutter Classic, getting outscored 36-8 along the way.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fresno State follows up win over Texas with a huge win over Stanford


A day after defeating 25th-ranked Texas at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Fresno State proved it was no fluke with a 16-hit, 4-home run pounding of Stanford on Saturday.

The 13-8 win over the Cardinal, who are receiving enough votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll to rank 26th and just on the cusp of the Top 25, was stunning in its power.  Fresno State had a season-high in hits as seven Bulldogs had multi-hit games, senior center fielder Brenna Moss broke the school career record for stolen bases, and three Bulldogs hit homers back to back to back in one inning.

Fresno State got off on the right foot in the top of the first inning when it took a 3-0 lead.  In the frame, Moss led off the game with a walk and stole the 86th base of her career to tie the school record.  Malia Rivers walked and Michelle Solomon hit a run-scoring single.

The Bulldogs increased their lead to 5-0 in the third.  Solomon smacked the first pitch of the inning over the wall in left-center for her third home run of the season.  Alyssa Villalpando singled another run home later.  After Stanford cut the margin to 5-2 on two unearned runs due to a 2-out Bulldog error, Fresno State answered right back.

Moss and Rivers singled, and both scored on a Kierra Willis double in the fourth.  In that inning, Moss broke the school record for career stolen bases with her 87th.  Later in the sixth inning, Villalpando and Bria Kennedy had hits to highlight another 3-run barrage, but the real fireworks were saved for the seventh as the Bulldogs stormed to an 8-run lead.

Fresno State hit back to back to back home runs as Willis, Paige Gumz and Villalpando all went deep with homers in three consecutive at-bats.  A seventh inning error on defense by the Bulldogs allowed three late runs, turning a 13-5 game into a 13-8 final.  Lost in all the hoopla was a standout performance from pitcher Jill Compton.

Compton pitched six innings and allowed no earned runs, scattering nine hits.  Defensive miscues by Fresno State kept Stanford in it for awhile as all five runs Compton allowed were unearned.  The 13 runs scored by the Bulldogs were their most against Stanford in a 29-game series that dates to the 1982 season.  The 5-run victory also marks the largest winning margin for Fresno State ever against the Cardinal.  The Bulldogs lead the all-time series with Stanford 16-13.

Moss, Rivers, Solomon, Willis, Gumz and Kennedy all had two hits.  Villalpando, who's been on a tear of late, had three, along with two RBI. Solomon finished with two RBI, while Willis had three.

Fresno State's wins over Texas and Stanford this weekend are the only two wins by Mountain West teams this week over teams with current winning records.  Stanford (9-5), which owns a victory over No. 3 Alabama already this season, was coming off an earlier win over Oklahoma State, the Bulldogs' next opponent Sunday in Palm Springs at 1:30 pm.

Kentucky 5, San Diego State 2 - Sydnee Cable got the first pitching start of her college career and took the loss, despite throwing well.  Erica Romero came on in relief but the Wildcats scored the game's final five runs to erase an early 2-0 deficit.  Kentucky (11-3), ranked 9th and 11th this week in the two major polls, bounced back from a loss to Oklahoma earlier in the day.  San Diego State lost a fourth consecutive game in the tournament and fell to 7-6 on the season.

San Jose St. 4, Illinois-Chicago 3 (8 innings) - The Spartans rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie it and force extra innings, and then scored a run in the eighth with the international tiebreak rule in effect to knock off the Flames (3-4) a second straight day.  Jessica Madrid had four hits and Madison Fish earned the pitching win in relief.

New Mexico 12, Illinois 4 - A day after losing to the Fighting Illini 12-4, the Lobos reversed it completely with a rout of Illinois (5-8) at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic.  It was the second win over a Big Ten team in as many weekends for UNM.  Mariah Rimmer and Lisa Rodrigues hit home runs to lead the Lobos.

Colorado State 10, Indiana State 6 - The Rams spotted the Sycamores (2-6) the first five runs of the game before rallying with 10 runs of their own to pick up the win in Tempe.

UC Riverside 4, Utah State 3 (8 innings) - The Aggies lost a heartbreaker, falling to the Highlanders (9-4) in extra innings when they were on the verge of winning in the seventh.

Also:

U. San Diego 4, Utah State 3
New Mexico St. 7, Colorado State 3
Maryland 5, UNLV 2
Oregon State 6, Nevada 4
Minnesota 8, Boise State 4

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fresno State picks up big win over 25th-ranked Texas


Fresno State picked up the Mountain West's biggest softball victory of the season thus far, snapping the 5-game winning streak of the 25th-ranked Texas Longhorns with an 8-7 win in Palm Springs.

Jill Compton came on in the seventh inning to relieve Hannah Harris, who gave up three singles and a walk as Texas tried to rally from an 8-4 deficit.  Twice, the Bulldogs were one out away from a win before the Longhorns kept their hopes alive with RBI singles.  But with two outs and the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, Compton got Stephanie Ceo to ground out to shortstop on a full-count pitch, giving Fresno State the victory.

Fresno State scored seven consecutive runs midway through the game to rally from a 4-1 deficit in the third.  Alyssa Villalpando had a huge day with three hits and three RBI.  Kierra Willis had three hits and an RBI as well.  Those two combined with Brenna Moss, Malia Rivers and Michelle Solomon on a spectacular 12-for-18 day at the plate with five RBI and six runs scored.  It came against a Texas team that had just knocked off 8th-ranked Georgia and No. 12 UCLA a day earlier.

The biggest inning of the game came in the fifth when the Bulldogs scored four times to take a 7-4 lead.  Villalpando had an RBI single in that important fifth inning, after hitting an RBI double in the third to pull Fresno State within a run.  Her heroics didn't end there.  In the sixth, she gave the Bulldogs an important insurance run with another RBI single.  Villalpando, Solomon and Willis all had extra-base hits in the win.


Ohio State 3, Fresno State 2 - Twenty minutes after defeating the Longhorns, the Bulldogs had to immediately face an Ohio State team (9-1) off to its best start in six years.  Fresno State had numerous opportunities for the win but couldn't take advantage, out-hitting OSU seven to four, but leaving nine runners stranded.  In the seventh inning, down by a run, the Bulldogs had runners at second and third base with nobody out, but were unable to score.  They eventually left the bases loaded in the seventh after leaving the tying run at third base the previous frame.  Compton threw an outstanding complete-game 4-hitter, but it wasn't enough and she took the loss.  Her 2-out error in the second inning was responsible for one of the Buckeyes runs.  In the seventh, Whitney Smith walked and Brenna Moss singled to lead off the inning.  A wild pitch advanced both into scoring position and it looked like the Bulldogs were headed for another dramatic win.  Ohio State's Alex Didomenico got both Malia Rivers and Michelle Solomon to strike out before she walked Kierra Willis to load the bases.  On an 0-1 pitch, Paige Gumz fouled out to end the game.

Ohio State 10, UNLV 8 - In their first game of the tournament in Palm Springs, the Rebels jumped to a 7-0 lead early, only to see the high-powered Buckeyes battle back for a huge, come-from-behind win. Ohio State, which was held to four hits versus Fresno State later in the day, had 13 against UNLV pitchers Kwyn Cooper, Francesca Foti and Morgan Ettinger.  The Rebels took a seemingly comfortable 7-0 lead in the second inning when they scored five times.  OSU committed a pair of errors in the frame, and UNLV got a 4-hit game from Samantha Juarez.

Notre Dame 8, UNLV 0 (5 innings) - The Rebels struggled in the circle and couldn't stop the Fighting Irish in a run-rule rout in Palm Springs.  Notre Dame scored four runs in the first inning and never looked back on its way to a 7-5 start to the season.  With the loss, UNLV saw its record fall below .500 for the first time this season at 5-6.

Nebraska 10, San Diego State 0 (5 innings) - The struggles continued for reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Week Erica Romero in Palm Springs in a blowout loss to Nebraska.  The Huskers (5-6) had been struggling themselves, but had no trouble snapping their 5-game losing streak. Romero started the game and allowed eight hits and eight earned runs in 1+ inning before being pulled, and the Aztecs were never in this one.  Over the past two days, Romero is 0-3 with a 14.78 ERA, giving up 22 runs (19 earned) and 21 hits in nine innings of work.  Seven consecutive Nebraska batters reached base in the first -- six on hits and one via walk.  After issuing a walk and two hits to the first three batters she faced in the second inning, SDSU coach Kathy Van Wyk had seen enough.  The Aztecs were held to four hits in the game.    

San Jose St. 8, Idaho State 1 - Sharon-Renae Estrada hit a home run as the Spartans rolled to a win over the Bengals (3-8) in Santa Clara.  Details to follow.

San Jose St. 7, Illinois-Chicago 0 - Reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Jessie Hufstetler went 3-for-3 and Taylor Purdy hit a home run in the Spartans' win over the Flames (3-3).  All of Hufstetler's hits were doubles as she finished with three RBI.  Katelyn Linford allowed five hits over 6 2/3 innings to pick up the victory.

Minnesota 8, Boise State 3 - Golden Gophers pitcher Nikki Anderson pitched a complete game in the win over the Broncos in Tempe.  Minnesota (10-1) took a 2-run lead in the first inning and never trailed.  Nicole Wilson went the distance for Boise State, giving up 11 hits in the defeat.  Four of Minnesota's 11 hits were home runs.

Arizona State 4, Boise State 3 - In Tempe, the host Sun Devils had to sweat through a seventh inning where the Broncos put the tying run in scoring position with two outs.  Rachel Rodriguez, who started the game at pitcher and had two hits herself, grounded out to end the game with runners at first and second.  An ASU error with two outs in the seventh put the potential go-ahead run on base.

New Mexico 6, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 2 - The Lobos beat the Islanders (0-11-1) in Houston to begin day two of the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic.  Junior Lisa Rodrigues hit the first home run of her career and finished with two hits.  Brandi Heimburg and Mariah Rimmer added a pair of hits as well, while Lauren Soles picked up the win.

Illinois 12, New Mexico 4 (6 innings) - In Houston, the Fighting Illini run-ruled the Lobos in a come-from-behind win.  New Mexico led 3-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth, but it was all Illini from that point forward.  Illinois (4-7) scored four in the fourth, two in the fifth and invoked the run rule with a 6-run sixth.  Chelsea Johnson had a home run and finished with three RBI for the Lobos.

Utah 11, Nevada 0 (5 innings) - The Wolf Pack were no-hit by Utah's Katie Donovan in a poor beginning to its weekend in Palm Springs.  Nevada's Alyssa Mendez was hit by a pitch in the fourth for the Pack's lone base runner in the contest.  McKenna Isenberg took the loss for Nevada.  

Colorado State 5, Indiana State 2 - The Rams scored three runs in the first and then two more in the top of the seventh after the Sycamores (2-4) had cut the margin to one.

Michigan State 9, Utah State 1 (5 innings) - The Spartans struck for six runs in the second inning and were never threatened in a run-rule victory in Riverside.  Noelle Johnson went two innings and took the loss. USU was held to three hits.

UC Riverside 6, Utah State 5 (9 innings) - Tied at 3-3 after seven innings, this one went to the international tiebreak rule at the Amy S. Harrison Classic.  Utah State took leads into both the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings, but was unable to hold it.  The Highlanders scored twice in the bottom of the ninth on hits against Alleyah Amendariz, who took the loss.


Arizona State 6, Colorado State 1 - The Sun Devils surged to an early lead and dispatched of the Rams in Tempe.

Maryland 4, Nevada 3 (8 innings) - The Wolf Pack suffered a heartbreaker, falling in extra innings to the Terrapins.  Nevada led 3-0 entering the seventh inning and pitcher Megan Dortch was in line for the win.  Maryland would erupt for three runs -- all with two outs in the bottom of the seventh -- to force the tie and send it to extras with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  While the Pack stranded their placed runner, Maryland scored theirs for the dramatic, come-from-behind win. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Aztecs go 0-for-2 in Palm Springs, while Lobos pick up key road win


The Mary Nutter Classic got underway in Palm Springs Thursday and San Diego State was outscored 16-2 in a pair of lopsided losses.  Meanwhile, New Mexico picked up its most impressive win of the young season by beating Houston.

Oklahoma 10, San Diego State 1 (5 innings) - The Aztecs were run-ruled in Palm Springs by an Oklahoma Sooners team that snapped a 2-game losing streak.  OU, ranked third and fourth in the two major polls, lost to No. 13 Arizona on a walk-off, seventh inning home run in the game immediately preceding this contest, but it didn't seem to faze the Sooners.

OU jumped quickly on reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Week Erica Romero, appearing in her 10th straight game to begin the year.  Just one out into Thursday's contest, it was 4-0 in favor of Oklahoma, and it would get worse.  By the time Romero left, she'd given up 10 runs (9 earned) and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Sooners coach Patty Gasso substituted liberally as 15 different OU batters came to the plate.  SDSU, which had three hits, avoided the shutout and scored its run with two outs in the fifth on an RBI single by Lorena Bauer.

LSU 6, San Diego State 1 - Romero started this game as well, but was gone by the fifth inning and replaced with Sydnee Cable in the circle.  On the day, Romero threw 194 pitches (107 vs. OU and 87 in this one) and took the loss in both contests.

San Diego State took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an unearned run when Kayla Bufardeci singled.  The hit scored Hayley Miles, who reached on an LSU error on the game's second pitch.

The Tigers (11-0) took the lead for good in the third on a 2-run, 1-out single.  In the fifth, Romero was pulled after giving up consecutive 1-out singles even though the Aztecs trailed just 2-1.  Cable gave up a single to the first batter she faced, and then a grand slam to Sahvanna Jaquish, which all but sealed it.

San Diego State's Monica Downey had two hits.

New Mexico 2, Houston 1 - At the Houston Hotel Plaza Classic, the Lobos picked up an impressive road win to begin play in this 4-team tournament hosted by the Cougars.

In a pitcher's duel started by New Mexico's Carrie Sheehan, the Lobos looked to be in trouble after Houston got a fifth inning home run from Courtney Klingler for a 1-0 lead.  To that point, neither offense was doing much, and UNM went to the bottom of the sixth trailing by that 1-0 margin.

As the designated home team despite being in Houston's home stadium, New Mexico rallied in the sixth.  Shelbie Franc singled with one out and the tying run was on third base with two outs in the inning following walks to Jasmine Casados and Karissa Haleman.  Mariah Rimmer then delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit with a 2-run single up the middle.

In the seventh, Lobos coach Erica Beach replaced Sheehan in the circle and called on Krissy Fortner to close it out.  It turned out to be a smart move.  While Fortner issued a walk and infield single to begin the frame, she buckled down from there.  After a bunt moved both runners into scoring position with one out, Fortner got a big strikeout of Klingler, who had homered in her previous at-bat.  With two away and the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, a pop up ended the game.

Houston (6-9) was predicted fourth in the American Athletic Conference this season and was coming off a 33-win season a year ago where it advanced to an NCAA regional final.

Weekend outlook: Prestigious Palm Springs tourney on tap


The prestigious, 35-team Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs takes place this week and promises to give four Mountain West teams a stiff test with marquee opponents.  San Diego State and Fresno State both have daunting slates, combining to face eight teams either ranked or receiving votes in the two major Top 25 polls.

Also in Palm Springs, UNLV will play one ranked foe, while Nevada will face another receiving votes.  In all, the tournament features seven former NCAA champions in Arizona, Cal, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA.  Those seven teams have won 26 of the 33 all-time NCAA softball championships.

And while the Aztecs, Bulldogs, Rebels and Wolf Pack are in Palm Springs, two Mountain West teams -- Boise State and Colorado State -- will be in Tempe at the Diamond Devil Invitational.  The Broncos will play the hosts once and Minnesota twice.

New Mexico will be in tournament action in Houston, while Utah State will be in Riverside and San Jose State close to home in Santa Clara.

San Diego State (7-2) - The Aztecs will get a jump start on all other Mountain West teams, opening the week Thursday afternoon with a pair of games.  Today, they'll face No. 3/4 Oklahoma (9-1), followed by No. 14/15 LSU (10-0).  The Sooners announced Wednesday that star senior infielder Georgia Casey (.346, 29 career home runs and 121 RBI) will be out a minimum of two months with an injury.  LSU will be playing its first games outside of Baton Rouge after opening the season with 10 straight home games.  Friday, SDSU faces reeling Nebraska (4-6), which went 0-5 last weekend but is still receiving Top 25 votes after beginning the season ranked 18th.  The Huskers were run-ruled twice last week and have already lost to the likes of Western Kentucky and New Mexico State.  NMSU scored 16 runs against Nebraska, the most a Huskers softball team had ever allowed in a single game.  Saturday, the Aztecs face a No. 9/11 Kentucky (6-2) team that is coming off a shocking 9-8 loss to Kennesaw State in its last game.  SDSU will conclude the tournament Sunday against Stanford (8-4), which is receiving votes in both polls.  This tourney could be an interesting test for the arm of pitcher Erica Romero.  She pitched 26 of the Aztecs' 28 innings last weekend and has thrown a conference-high 49 innings so far.  No other Aztecs hurler has thrown more than five innings.

Fresno State (7-3) - The Bulldogs begin play in Palm Springs Friday with two games, meeting the 25th-ranked Longhorns of Texas (7-3), followed by the Buckeyes of Ohio State (7-1), who are receiving votes in both polls.  Texas already owns a road win over Arizona State, in addition to victories over Northwestern and fellow MW member Colorado State twice.  Fresno State has defeated the Longhorns twice previously in this Palm Springs tournament, the last time coming in 2011.  Last year, the Bulldogs beat the Buckeyes as well.  Saturday, Trisha Ford goes against her alma mater, Stanford (8-4), for the first time since becoming the Bulldogs' head coach.  Stanford sits just on the outside of the Top 25 rankings, receiving enough votes to rank 26th in the ESPN/USA Softball poll.  Sunday at 2 p.m., Fresno State meets the Big 12's Oklahoma State Cowgirls, who arrive with a deceiving 2-5 record.  Four of Oklahoma State's five losses are to ranked opponents, including three to unbeaten and 10th-ranked Arizona in Tucson.  Two of those defeats were by one run to ranked foes (4-3 in 8 innings at Arizona and 5-4 on the road in Mobile against 23rd-ranked South Alabama).  Fresno State wraps up the tourney late Sunday afternoon against Loyola Marymount (3-5), a team that was run-ruled by San Jose State last weekend.

UNLV (5-4) - The Rebels will meet Ohio State (7-1) just before the Buckeyes meet Fresno State on Friday.  Also that day, UNLV takes on a Notre Dame (5-4) team that has been up and down its first two weekends.  The Fighting Irish have a win over UCLA and losses to Hofstra and Cal State Fullerton.  Notre Dame enters the week on a 3-game losing streak.  The Rebels will meet Maryland (6-4) Saturday, and conclude the weekend Sunday with a pair of games against Big West foes. UNLV takes on UC Santa Barbara (3-7) and Cal Poly (5-5).  UCSB has lost four in a row, including a surprising 14-6 (5 innings) loss at home to St. Mary's in its last game.  The Mustangs' .500 record is deceiving because of a strong schedule that has already included powers such as Alabama, Oregon, Cal and Stanford.  Sophomore Sierra Hyland of Cal Poly is one of the country's most underrated pitchers.

Nevada (3-7) - The Wolf Pack open the Mary Nutter Classic Friday against Utah, giving them back to back games against the Utes.  Nevada closed last weekend's tournament play at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas with a loss to Utah (7-4).  The Utes are 2-0 versus the Mountain West, having run-ruled UNLV three days ago.  Maryland (6-4) is also on tap for the Pack in a late Friday game scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. start.  Saturday, Nevada meets Oregon State (8-3) for the second time this season.  The Beavers beat the Pack 4-2 on opening weekend.  Sunday, the Pack plays a pair of games, facing off against Syracuse (4-6) and Cal State Fullerton (7-3).  The Orange have really struggled, losing four games (twice each) last weekend to Akron and Jacksonville.  A national power not too long ago, Syracuse has also lost already this season to Samford and Miami of Ohio.  Nevada's biggest win of the year came against Fullerton last weekend in a 6-5 victory.  We'll see if the Pack can pull out a win over the Titans on consecutive weekends.

Boise State (4-6) - At the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, the Broncos have a chance to make some noise, especially with two games against No. 14/15 Minnesota (8-1).  The Golden Gophers have a clear ace in reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Sara Groenewegen (0.72 ERA), who is a tough assignment for any opposing team.  The likelihood of her starting both games against Boise State, however, is slim and gives the Broncos a decent shot at an upset in the other game.  Minnesota's other two pitchers have allowed 17 runs and 26 hits in 23 innings this season.  Boise State will take on Arizona State Friday on the Sun Devils' home field.  Giving the Broncos hope:  This is not the same ASU team as in years past.  Arizona State began last season 18-0 at home and went 40-4 at home in 2013.  This season, ASU has already lost four home games in the first two weeks of play, including upsets at the hands of USD and Cal State Northridge.  Boise State's two other games this weekend come against New Mexico State (5-5) and Indiana State (2-2).  The Aggies have allowed 76 runs this season, including a stunning 35 in one day in home losses to Kansas and Bradley.  This past Saturday, the Jaykawks beat New Mexico State 25-12 and the Braves beat them in a 10-8 game in Las Cruces a couple of hours later.

Colorado State (4-6) - The Rams go to the same Diamond Devil Invitational as Boise State, but don't have as challenging a schedule.  Instead of meeting nationally-ranked Minnesota twice, Colorado State will get two games against Indiana State (2-2).  The Sycamores' wins have come by a combined four runs over Belmont and Ball State.  Indiana State's two losses:  By a total of 17 runs to Lipscomb and Georgetown.  CSU will have single games against New Mexico State (5-5), Arizona State (8-4) and Minnesota (8-1).  On the season's first weekend, the Rams suffered an 8-2 loss to the Aggies and would like some revenge here.

San Jose State (8-3) - In what looks like the lightest weekend schedule of the season for the Spartans, San Jose State competes at the Bronco Classic in Santa Clara.  SJSU won't meet the host Broncos and will play just four games.  Friday, the Spartans face Idaho State (3-7) and Illinois-Chicago (3-2).  The Bengals have played a demanding schedule with four of the seven losses coming against Louisiana-Lafayette and UCLA, but they've mostly lost to the teams they should've lost to, and won the games they should've won.  Advantage: Spartans.  The Flames, meanwhile, haven't played a game in 12 days and could be rusty when they open this tourney versus San Jose State.  After meeting UIC a second time on Saturday, the Spartans will face Seattle (4-6) on Sunday.  San Jose State has already run-ruled the Redhawks this season, and Seattle has lost to Mountain West teams New Mexico and Boise State as well in the first two weeks of the year.

New Mexico (4-6) - The Lobos head to the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic in Texas and will face the host Houston Cougars Thursday at 6:30 pm MT.  The game was originally slated for Saturday, but was moved up due to possible rain in the forecast for this weekend.  No team in this tournament field enters with a winning record.  In a season that is only two weeks old, Houston (6-8) has already played 14 games, the most of any team in the nation.  Four of the Cougars' eight losses are to nationally-ranked teams.  Improved UNM owns a win over Indiana of the Big Ten, and the Lobos will get another shot at a Big Ten win or two with a pair against Illinois here.  The Fighting Illini (3-7) have struggled, losing to the likes of Winthrop, Louisiana Tech and Murray State.  UNM will play twice against the Islanders of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who are still looking for their first win of the season.  Corpus Christi (0-10-1) has just one player hitting over .260 on the year.  New Mexico has the very real chance of leaving this tournament with a 3-2 or 4-1 record this weekend.

Utah State (1-8) - It's off to Southern California and the Amy S. Harrison Classic in Riverside for Utah State this weekend.  The Aggies will open against Michigan State (7-3), which has a nice win over a Tulsa team that is receiving votes in the national polls.  The Spartans also have a head-scratching loss or two, falling against Florida Atlantic twice and losing to Akron.  Utah State will play Michigan State and the tournament host, UC Riverside (6-4), twice.  The Highlanders are a particularly interesting team.  Picked to finish last in the Big West in the preseason, UCR has been powered by the arm of pitching newcomer Chelsea Ponce (5 wins, 0.65 ERA).  She has already posted two wins over two of the best teams in the Mountain West -- Fresno State and San Jose State.  Ponce was on the hook for the loss against the Bulldogs before UCR rallied for three runs with one out in the seventh inning, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 win.  Against the Spartans, Ponce shut down the high-powered SJSU offense as Riverside rolled to a 6-1 win.  She has allowed just four earned runs in 43.1 innings, and two of UCR's four losses came in extra innings with the international tiebreak rule in effect when unearned runs scored in 1-0 losses.  Here's the rub:  UCR is not nearly the same team when she doesn't pitch.  It seems doubtful the Aggies will see her in both games, giving them a good chance for a win.  Also in this tourney, an up and down USD Toreros team.  USD has a marquee win at Arizona State, but has also been run-ruled in a 10-2 loss to Fresno State, and lost to New Mexico, first-year Division I program Montana, and Cal State Bakersfield.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

San Diego State, Fresno State both receiving Top 25 votes this week


Two weeks into the 2015 season, two Mountain West teams are receiving votes in the national Top 25 polls.  In this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings, San Diego State and Fresno State both showed up in the "receiving votes" category.

The Aztecs (7-2) received six votes this week to rank 30th.  The Bulldogs (7-3) received one vote to rank 39th.  Both teams have already defeated other teams that are currently receiving votes, with Fresno State owning a win over Cal State Northridge (8-2), and SDSU having defeated North Dakota State (7-3).

This is a huge week for both San Diego State and Fresno State.  They, along with UNLV and Nevada, will compete at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, where a throng of the nation's elite softball teams will compete.  A whopping eight of the Bulldogs' and Aztecs' opponents this week are either ranked or receiving votes in the current national Top 25 polls.

San Diego State meets Oklahoma, LSU, Kentucky, Stanford and Notre Dame.  Fresno State meets Texas, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma State and Loyola Marymount.

See the full ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll here.


Monday, February 16, 2015

UNLV gets run-ruled at home by Utah on Monday

In a rare Monday morning game, UNLV came up on the short end of a 10-2 (six innings) run-rule loss to Utah in Las Vegas.  The Rebels scored a pair of runs in the first inning on a 2-run home run by Merina Ili to go in front 2-0.  From that point on, it was all Utah.  The Utes scored five runs in the second -- all with two outs.  UNLV starter Morgan Ettinger gave up a home run before being replaced with pitcher Francesca Foti, who gave up a grand slam later in the inning.  Utah kept piling it on, scoring in every inning but the fifth, and then adding three more in the sixth to put the run rule into effect.  After the first inning, the Rebels didn't have a hit until the sixth.  UNLV fell to 5-4, while Utah moved to 7-4 on the year.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wild Fresno State and Cal slugfest highlights Sunday action


The weekend came to a close with the Mountain West facing a pair of ranked opponents Sunday.  They were almost exact opposite results. Even in a game they ultimately ended up losing, Fresno State pounded Cal pitching for the most runs and hits against the unbeaten and 23rd-ranked Bears all season, while Boise State was no-hit and shut out by the 10th-ranked Bruins.

Sunday's action around the Mountain West looked like this:

California 14, Fresno State 9 - In a stunning, back and forth slugfest between teams with strong pitching, this one was all about offense in a dynamic playoff-type atmosphere with 1,550 fans looking on at Margie Wright Diamond.  Fresno State's nine runs came on 14 hits against an unbeaten Bears pitching staff that entered the day with a 0.80 ERA.  The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Brenna Moss and Malia Rivers singled to start the game, and both scored on a hit off the bat of Michelle Solomon.  Paige Gumz hit a sacrifice fly to bring Solomon home and the Bulldogs looked in control early.  Cal, however, tied it in the second -- and basically set the tone for a wild game -- by getting three runs, all with two outs, after the Bulldogs committed a pair of costly infield errors that would change the game.  Still, Fresno State regained the lead in the bottom of the second when Whitney Smith walked, Moss doubled, and Solomon brought two more home with another single.  The lead would be short-lived as Cal responded right back with three in the top of the third.  Was Fresno State done? Heck no. The Bulldogs roared back themselves and took a 7-6 lead on an Alyssa Villalpando 2-run home run.  Cue the Bears, who took the lead back in the next frame with the biggest blow of the game -- a grand slam off the bat of All-American Cheyenne Cordes.  That inning, again, was aided by a Fresno State error, but the Bulldogs weren't done yet.  Trisha Ford's squad scored a pair in the fifth when Villalpando doubled, Moss singled and Rivers tripled, but it wasn't enough as both teams ran out of gas a bit down the stretch in an exhausting offensive display.  Cal had not allowed more than seven hits in a game this season, and the Bulldogs doubled that with 14.  The Bears hadn't given up more than four runs in a game this year, and Fresno State had already surpassed that by the second inning.  Moss had four hits in five at-bats and completed a 10-for-15 (.667) weekend.  Versus the Bears alone, Moss, Rivers, Solomon and Villalpando combined to go 10-for-16 with 8 RBI and 6 runs scored. Cal improved to 9-0 on the season and has outscored its opposition 82-21.  After the Bulldogs chased Bears starter Katie Sutherland-Finch, they became the first team this season to score a run of any kind against Cal ace Stephanie Trzcinski.  Entering the game, Trzcinski had a 0.00 ERA and had not allowed a run -- earned or otherwise -- in 19.1 innings spanning four games.

UCLA 6, Boise State 0 - Bruins pitcher Ally Carda threw the 106th no-hitter in school history and the second of her career to shut down the Broncos in Las Vegas.  All Boise State could muster were two walks against Carda, including one with two outs in the seventh inning.  Makenna Weir was the Broncos' lone player to reach scoring position in the game, as she stole second base after walking in the third.  Rachel Rodriguez (1-2) pitched six innings and allowed 12 hits, four of which went for extra bases.  The Bruins improved to 9-2.

UNLV 2, Texas-El Paso 0 - In Las Vegas, the Rebels got a 4-hit shutout from pitcher Kwyn Cooper to knock off the Miners (2-8).  Both runs batted in for UNLV (5-3) came from Emily Haslinger.  Fahren Glackin and Halle Rosario had two hits each for the Rebels.

San Jose State 10, Loyola Marymount 2 (5 innings) - Alyssa Martinez hit a grand slam as the Spartans broke to an early 6-run lead and cruised to the win in Tucson.  Martinez finished with a pair of hits, as did Jessica Madrid (double, two RBI).  Erin Rodriguez added two RBI and Allison Lang picked up the win.  LMU (3-5) went 1-4 on the weekend, while the Spartans went 4-1 and posted three run-rule victories.

Utah State 6, Indiana 5 - The Aggies got a grand slam from Nicole Arata, enabling them to snap a 17-game losing streak dating to the 2014 season.  Utah State's Noelle Johnson got the win and survived a scary seventh inning as IU rallied from five runs down and put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.  The Aggies joined New Mexico as Mountain West teams able to knock off the Hoosiers (2-8) this weekend.

Cal State Northridge 4, Utah State 0 - Matadors senior pitcher Brianna Elder struck out a career-high 15 and overpowered the Aggies in a dominant outing in Henderson.  Cal State Northridge (8-2) bounced back from a Saturday night loss to the Utah Utes and is now off to its best 10-game start since the 1996 season.  CSUN's only other loss this season came eight days ago to Fresno State in a game Elder started as well.  Sophomore Taylor Nate had three stolen bases for the Matadors.

Texas 11, Colorado State 4 - Once down 5-0 in Austin, the Rams battled back to make it a 1-run game before the Longhorns (7-3) pulled away.  Colorado State committed four errors and Texas scored three runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings.  Four CSU pitchers were unable to stop a Longhorns offense that had 15 hits.

Seattle U. 8, New Mexico 2 - A night after the Lobos were able to come from seven runs down for a win, New Mexico was unable to repeat it on Sunday in Las Vegas.  The Redhawks broke to a 7-0 lead in the second inning, and Michala Erickson answered with a homer for UNM in the third.  The Lobos stranded eight runners on the base paths.  Starter Tess McPherson went 1+ inning and took the loss.

Utah 6, Nevada 2 - Karley Hopkins, a day after becoming the school's all-time hits leader, added three more but it wasn't enough as the Utes rolled in Las Vegas.  Kristen Stewart hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the first inning for Utah, which got out to the early lead and was never seriously threatened.  Jasmine Jenkins hit a solo homer for Nevada in the sixth.  Freshman Chase Redington started and took the loss for the Pack, giving up four runs (three earned) in three innings. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

SATURDAY: 16 more games on a busy second weekend



Sixteen more games were on tap Saturday around the world of Mountain West softball. Let's take a look at the results.

Colorado State 10, IPFW 0 (6 innings) - Senior Molly Randle pitched the first no-hitter for the Rams in five years as CSU dispatched of the struggling Mastadons in Austin.  Randle, who allowed a double to the only batter she'd faced all season before this game, tossed the first no-hitter of her career.  The Mastadons reached base only on a pair of walks, a HBP, and a Rams error.  Woeful IPFW (0-8), whose entire senior class transferred to Western Kentucky this past off-season, was run-ruled for a seventh consecutive game.  IPFW has now been outscored 77-6 this season.

Texas 4, Colorado State 1 - The host Longhorns knocked off the Rams in the Texas Classic by limiting CSU to three hits.  Shae Rodriguez had two of the three Rams singles in the game.  Trailing by three runs, CSU cut it to a 2-run deficit in the fifth when Texas committed a pair of errors.  Holly Reinke took the loss.

Fresno State 8, UC Davis 5 - The Bulldogs had 11 hits and roared to a big early lead en route to a win over the Aggies in Fresno.  Brenna Moss had a pair of hits, scored three runs and stole a base.  Michelle Solomon had three RBI, and Kierra Willis had a pair of hits, including a 2-run triple in the first inning when Fresno State broke on top 4-0.  The Bulldogs used a trio of pitchers, who limited the Aggies to seven hits, which all came in the final three innings.  Fresno State was up 7-0 in the fifth when UCD got its first hit.  The Aggies are coached by former Boise State head coach Erin Thorpe.

Fresno State 2, Santa Clara 1 - The Bulldogs pounded out 10 hits, but continually ran themselves out of innings with overly aggressive base running.  It wasn't until the bottom of the sixth inning when sophomore Kierra Willis blasted her first home run of the season -- a 2-run shot to left-center -- that the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead.  The Broncos, in the seventh, hit a solo shot to make it close. It was the first home run given up by a Fresno State pitcher this season.  Jill Compton tossed a complete game and struck out a career-high 10.  Willis, Michelle Solomon, Brenna Moss and Paige Gumz all had two hits.

New Mexico 9, Indiana 8 - At the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic, the Lobos staged a tremendous comeback from a 7-run deficit and won in dramatic fashion.  Trailing 7-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, UNM erupted for eight runs on seven hits to take the lead.  Indiana had some drama of its own, tying the game 8-8 with two outs in the top of the seventh when the Lobos were one out from victory.  In the bottom of the seventh, IU chose to intentionally walk Brandi Heimburg to load the bases with one out.  The move backfired when Shelbie Franc came up with the game-winning single to score Mia Hignojos, who led off the frame with a single of her own.

UNLV 8, Northwestern 7 - In Las Vegas, the Rebels jumped to a quick lead and then had to hold on down the stretch as the Wildcats had the potential tying run at third base when the game ended.  UNLV scored six runs in the bottom of the first to take a commanding 6-0 lead, in large part to Samantha Juarez's 2-run home run.  Halle Rosario had two RBI.  Northwestern, which out-hit the Rebels 11 to 10, lost its sixth consecutive game this season and third in a row in this tournament.

San Diego State 9, Central Michigan 5 - In San Diego, the Aztecs' pitching situation continued to be an issue, but Erica Romero again came in to save the day.  SDSU started freshman infielder and utility player Taylor Stewart in the circle for the first time, and Stewart lasted two innings and allowed six hits and four earned runs to the struggling Chippewas who lost their first six games this season.  Romero entered in the third with the Aztecs down 4-0 and promptly gave up a run to make it 5-0 Central Michigan.  SDSU's offense finally got rolling as two Chippewas errors and homers from Samantha Camello and Hayley Miles brought the Aztecs back.  Nine days into the season, Romero has thrown a staggering 49 innings, far and away the most in the conference.  No other SDSU pitcher has thrown more than five innings this season.

Long Beach State 10, Nevada 2 (5 innings) - In Henderson, Nev., the Wolf Pack couldn't stop the 49ers' offense in a rout.  Long Beach State scored in every inning but the third, and limited the Pack to just three hits.  Julia Lombardi had three hits, including a home run, and five RBI.  McKenna Isenberg started and took the loss, allowing six hits and five runs (all earned) in two innings.

Arizona 9, San Jose State 1 (6 innings) - In Tucson, the highly-anticipated battle between two prolific offenses never materialized as the Wildcats blew out the Spartans in a run-rule affair.  Arizona (7-0) freshman pitcher Trish Parks had little trouble with SJSU's offense and helped her own cause at the plate with a 3-run home run.  This marked the third consecutive game in which Parks homered.  San Jose State's lone run scored in the first inning on a 3-base error as the Spartans took the early 1-0 lead.  Starter Allison Lang allowed nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Utah Valley 9, New Mexico 3 - In Henderson, the Wolverines jumped to a 4-run lead right off the bat and were never seriously threatened as the Lobos lost their third straight.  Starting pitcher Tess McPherson took the loss.  Freshman catcher Chelsea Johnson hit her second career home run for UNM, and Karissa Haleman had three of the team's eight hits.  UVU snapped a 3-game losing streak and moved to 4-5 on the season.  That record includes a loss to San Jose State and a win over a pair of Big Ten teams in Indiana and Wisconsin.

UCLA 12, Utah State 4 - At the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic, the Bruins exploded for nine runs on eight hits in the fourth inning on their way to a romp over the Aggies.  UCLA pounded out 16 hits, including five for extra bases, against starter Alleyah Armendariz and reliever Noelle Johnson.  Armendariz had limited the Bruins to just one hit through the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth.  She and Victoria Saucedo accounted for all four Aggies runs with homers.

Long Beach State 11, Utah State 3 (5 innings) - The struggling Aggies became the third Mountain West team to lose to the 49ers this weekend - and the second via the run-rule today - in a lopsided loss in Henderson.  Utah State pitchers gave up a double-digit run total for the third consecutive game in this tournament as the Aggies saw their record drop to a surprising 0-7 to begin the season.  This is the second time in three seasons Utah State has begun the season with an 0-7 record.  After losing their final 10 games of the 2014 season, Utah State has now lost 17 in a row, and 21 of its past 22 games.

Nevada 6, UTEP 3 - The Wolf Pack knocked off the Miners in Henderson with three home runs.  Freshman pitcher Chase Redington earned the complete-game win as both teams had 11 hits apiece.  Jasmine Jenkins, Amanda Weis and Ashley Butera all homered for Nevada.  The Miners dropped to 2-7.

Boise State 9, Seattle U. 5 - At the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic, the Broncos held off the Redhawks.  Devon Bridges homered and freshman pitcher Rachel Rodriguez picked up the win.  Seattle (3-5) has now played four Mountain West teams, losing to New Mexico and San Jose State in addition to the Broncos.  Seattle's lone win over a MW team came Friday against Nevada.

Late-night results

San Jose State 11, Loyola-Chicago 2 (5 innings) - The Spartans improved to 7-3 with a run-rule victory over the Ramblers (3-5) in Tucson.  Katelyn Linford picked up the pitching victory.

Portland State 10, Boise State 6 - The Broncos fell to the Vikings in Henderson.  More details coming.

Friday, February 13, 2015

FRIDAY: Aztecs, Spartans roll while some others falter late


There were 16 games involving Mountain West softball teams Friday, including tournament play in Austin, San Diego, Las Vegas and Fresno.  San Jose State rolled to a pair of big wins over outmatched foes, while San Diego State rode the arm of Erica Romero and got a very late comeback for a win.  Elsewhere, Fresno State, Utah State, Boise State and Colorado State couldn't hold late leads and lost heartbreakers.

Fresno State 2, Santa Clara 0 - The Bulldogs won their home opener and defeated the Broncos for the 48th time in 50 all-time games between the two schools.  Pitcher Hannah Harris (2-0) tossed a 5-hit shutout and has not allowed an earned run now in 17 1/3 innings pitched this season.  In the first inning, Michelle Solomon gave Harris the only run she'd need with a single to drive in Brenna Moss, who led off the game with a hit.  Freshman shortstop Katie Castellon, making her first start, hit a home run in just her second collegiate at-bat.

San Diego State 2, Oregon State 0 - Erica Romero pitched a 5-hit shutout and Kayla Bufardeci homered as the Aztecs beat the Beavers in San Diego.  Oregon State out-hit San Diego State, but errors were costly.  The first miscue of the game came in the third when SDSU took a 1-0 lead.  Monica Downey's single to right was the Aztecs' first hit of the game, and it scored Jenavee Peres, who'd reached on an error to lead off the inning.  It remained a 1-0 game until two outs in the sixth when Bufardeci homered.  The Beavers mounted a small rally in the seventh with a leadoff double and a single, but a base running blip cost OSU.

San Diego State 4, Seton Hall 3 - For the second time in six days, the Aztecs won a game with a clutch, 2-out RBI in the seventh inning.  Once down 3-0 in this one, San Diego State fought back to tie it.  With two outs in the seventh, Jaylene Ignacio hit a 2-run double to give the Aztecs their first lead.  Romero was forced to pitch another seven innings after pitching earlier in the day.  For the second consecutive outing, sophomore pitcher Andi Smith failed to record an out in the first inning and was replaced with Romero.  All of Seton Hall's runs came in the first inning.

UC Riverside 4, Fresno State 2 - The Bulldogs lost a surprising one at home to the Highlanders when they were two outs from a victory.  Fresno State imploded in the seventh inning while nursing a 2-1 lead with one out and runners at first and second base.  Shortstop Katie Castellon committed her second error of the game, and starting pitcher Jill Compton appeared to get rattled because of it.  Compton hit the next batter she faced, forcing in the tying run.  A sacrifice fly then gave UCR its first lead, and Compton walked each of the next two batters she faced, forcing in another run.  Compton had walked only one batter prior to the seventh.  In the bottom of the seventh, the first two Bulldogs reached base, but -- as they'd done most of the game -- they were unable to score.  Fresno State blew several scoring chances and stranded eight runners over the final five innings alone, including five in scoring position.  They left the bases loaded in the third and had a runner thrown out trying to score from second base on a wild pitch with only one out in the first. It marked the Highlanders' second win over a Mountain West team in five days after beating San Jose State 6-1 Sunday. 

San Jose State 12, Drake 4 - The heavy-hitting Spartans continued to have their way early in the season.  Jessie Hufstetler was the one with the biggest bat in this one, clubbing a pair of home runs and finishing with a career-high seven RBI.  Despite the 8-run margin, the game went a full seven innings.  San Jose State pushed the margin to 10 runs in the top of the seventh before the Bulldogs added two in the bottom of the inning.  Allison Lang (2-0) earned the pitching win as SJSU moved to 5-2 on the season.  Drake dropped to 3-4.

San Jose State 13, Wright State 2 (5 innings) - Moments after Wright State was blasted 22-1 in five innings by Arizona, the Spartans had no mercy in a late-night game in Tucson.  The Raiders were opening their season and found the going rough, being outscored 35-3 and losing both via the run rule.  It was more of the same for the high-powered San Jose State offense, which entered the week leading the conference in team batting average.  The Spartans completed a day where they scored 25 runs on 25 hits.  All they did against Wright State was hit .600 with the bases loaded and .545 with runners in scoring position.  Sharon-Renae Estrada, who had five home runs last week, hit two more in this game.  She blasted a grand slam in the first inning, and then she and Hufstetler hit back-to-back homers later in the contest.  Madison Fish earned the win.

Colorado State 9, IPFW 1 (5 innings) - The Rams run-ruled the winless Mastadons (0-6) in Austin at the Texas Classic.  IPFW imploded early and often in this one, issuing seven walks in the first 2 2/3 innings and committing four costly errors.  Despite totaling nine runs, Colorado State had just three hits -- all singles.  In a game that paired opposing pitchers who both entered with ERAs over 13.00, Holly Reinke (1-3) picked up her first win and added a 2-run single of her own.  Each team finished with three hits in the game, with the only extra-base hit coming from IPFW.  The Mastadons, who have suffered run-rule losses in five of their first six games this season, have been outscored 55-6.  These two teams will meet again Saturday.

Wichita State 9, Colorado State 6 - The Rams (3-4) scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, but couldn't hold a late 5-run lead as the Shockers erupted for a stunning come-from-behind win in Austin.  After CSU got up 6-1 in the first inning, the game remained that way until the sixth. Wichita State scored four times in the top of the sixth to make it a 1-run game, and then won it with four more runs in the seventh.  The Rams committed four errors, leading to four unearned runs.  After CSU starter Larissa Petakoff departed the game with a 5-run lead, freshman Trinity Harrington came on in relief.  In a nightmare sixth frame, Harrington committed an error to begin the inning, and freshman third baseman Savannah Clark had two more in the inning as all four Shockers runs were unearned.  In the seventh, Wichita State added four runs on five hits against Reinke, who took the loss.  Danielle Wikre hit a home run in the loss.

Hawaii 11, Utah State 10 - The Aggies lost their fifth straight game to begin the season, and this one may have been the toughest of all.  One out away from victory, Hawaii's Kayla Wartner hit a 2-run home run off USU freshman pitcher Jordyn McCracken for the walk-off win in Henderson, Nev.  Holding a 7-2 lead midway through the game, and a 10-6 cushion entering the fifth, Utah State wouldn't be able to hang on.  UH scored a pair of runs in the fifth to cut the margin to 10-8, and added another in the sixth to make it a 1-run game.  With two outs and no one on base in the seventh, Hawai'i got a triple from Lindsey Willmon to keep its hopes alive, and the game-winning blast from Wartner (her second HR of the game) ended it.

UCLA 16, New Mexico 0 (5 innings) - In Henderson, Nev., this one was all UCLA.  The No. 10/12 ranked Bruins capitalized on some sloppy Lobos defense and romped their way to victory.  UNM was being no-hit by UCLA freshman pitcher Johanna Grauer until Jasmine Casados and Mariah Rimmer both singled in the fourth inning.  By that time, it was already 13-0 in favor of the Bruins, who improved to 6-2 on the season.  Lisa Rodrigues started and took the loss for New Mexico, which saw its 2-game winning streak come to an end.  UCLA had 12 hits and UNM had twice as many errors (4) as hits (2).

Cal State Northridge 3, New Mexico 2 - The Lobos fell to the Matadors for the second time in less than a week, but this one was closer than last Saturday's 5-1 loss in Tempe.  UNM led 2-1 in this one before Cal State Northridge went ahead for good with a 2-run top of the fourth inning.  The Lobos got their runs on an RBI single by Mariah Rimmer, and an outfield error by the Matadors.  Pitcher Lauren Soles, the reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Week, took her first loss and gave up her first earned runs of the young season.  Seven walks by Soles in 5 1/3 innings proved to be costly.

Cal State Fullerton 15, Boise State 4 (6 innings) - The Titans, ranked 25th in one major poll and receiving votes in another, picked up their first run-rule win of the season in a rout of the Broncos.   The Titans were up 9-0 before Boise State responded with three runs in the fourth inning to trim the gap.  A 5-run uprising in the top of the sixth inning sealed the deal for Fullerton.  Freshman pitcher Rachel Rodriguez saw her first action of the season in the circle for Boise State.

Long Beach State 3, Boise State 2 - After seeing her first action of the year in today's opening game loss to Cal State Fullerton, Rodriguez was back for the nightcap against the 49ers and suffered the defeat.  Boise State led this one virtually the entire way but faltered at the end, allowing Long Beach State to tie it and ultimately win it in dramatic, walk-off fashion.  In the bottom of the seventh, following an odd 20-minute delay when the sprinklers turned on automatically, the 49ers rallied.  Rodriguez gave up a pair of singles, including one that went to the wall.  She then walked Darian Tautalafua to load the bases, and hit former UNLV player Christina Montoya to force in the game-winning run and send the Broncos to an 0-2 record on the day.  The 49ers snapped a 3-game losing streak.

BYU 6, UNLV 5 - In Las Vegas, the Rebels lost their second game in a row, falling to the Cougars in a nailbiter.  Trailing by five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, UNLV came to life and pushed four runs across to make it a 1-run game.  Fahren Glackin hit a 2-run homer to pull the Rebels close, but that's how it ended.  The Cougars doubled UNLV in hits as BYU pounded out 12 against four different Rebels pitchers.

Seattle U. 8, Nevada 7 - In Henderson, Nev., the Wolf Pack came up on the short end of the scoreboard for a fifth consecutive game, falling to the Redhawks.  Down 4-0 entering the bottom of the third, Nevada rallied to tie it with three runs that inning and a fourth run in the bottom of the fourth.  The tie was short-lived, however, as Seattle went on top with a 3-run fifth.  Nevada trailed 8-5 entering the bottom of the seventh and nearly tied it again.  Amanda Weis hit a 2-run home run after an error began the inning, and the Pack was down 8-7.  A single and walk followed, but the Pack were hurt when a pinch runner was tagged out on the base paths.  The teams both had 14 hits in the slugfest.

Nevada 6, Cal State Fullerton 5 - Late Friday night, the Wolf Pack survived a scary sixth inning when the Titans nearly rallied from a 6-run deficit and held on for the win.  Megan Dortch got the win, despite issuing nine walks in the contest.  Chase Redington got the save, escaping a sixth inning where the Titans pushed five runs across and left the bases loaded.  The first four batters in the Nevada lineup had two hits apiece.  Nevada snapped a 5-game losing streak  and improved to 2-5 on the season.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Aztecs start off the weekend with a win over Bison

The weekend for Mountain West softball teams got off to a good start as San Diego State prevailed over North Dakota State 6-1 on the opening day of its own Campbell/Cartier Classic.

After Bison ace Krista Menke (4-0, 0.97 ERA) pitched earlier in the day, North Dakota State went with freshman Jacquelyn Sertic (1-2, 4.40 ERA) in the circle for this one.  Sertic and NDSU struggled right off the bat and the Aztecs took advantage.

Hayley Miles singled off the glove of Bison first baseman Jackie Stifter's glove to start the game.  An out later, Stifter was charged with an error after being unable to field a throw on a groundout, and things went downhill from there.  Sertic uncorked a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position, and Lorena Bauer brought both home with a first-inning RBI single.

In the third, SDSU basically put the game away with a 2-out, 4-run rally.  Kayla Jordan singled and came home on a Bauer double.  After a Kayla Bufardeci single scored Bauer, Jaylene Ignacio belted a two-run homer to left for a commanding 6-0 lead.

The Bison attempted to rally in the sixth with a pair of hits, including an RBI double by San Diego native Maritza Lopez-Portillo.  On that play, NDSU paid the price for trying to do too much, as Amanda Grable (from nearby Santee, Calif.) was easily thrown out at home.  Instead of runners at second and third base with just one away, there were two outs and the rally was all but over.

Erica Romero (3-2, 1.87 ERA) went the distance for San Diego State, scattering seven hits.  The Bison, who actually out-hit SDSU seven to six, made noise late with the run in the sixth inning, while leaving the bases loaded in the fifth.  Romero held the Bison to just a 3-for-14 effort with runners on base.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

News and notes around Mountain West softball

The first week of the season is now in the books and contained some standout performances, a couple of big surprises, and a disappointment or two as well.  Let's start with the outstanding performances.  Sharon-Renae Estrada of San Jose State had a weekend to remember with five home runs, 15 RBI and 26 total bases -- stats that far outdistance any other individual in the conference.  Estrada's Spartans teammate, Michelle Cox, led the Mountain West with a total of 13 hits for the weekend and hit a whopping .619.  Fresno State pitchers Jill Compton and Hannah Harris turned in strong efforts to propel the Bulldogs to the best record (4-1) in the league after one week.  Compton won a MW-high three games and struck out a conference-best 28.  Harris (1-0) pitched against A-10 favorite Fordham, a Cal State Northridge team that is receiving votes in both national polls, and vs. Ole Miss of the Southeastern Conference.  In 10.1 innings against those high-powered teams, she didn't allow an earned run, and gave up just one total run -- that one coming on a Bulldog error -- to conclude the week with a 0.00 ERA.  The only other pitcher in the Mountain West this week to throw 10 or more innings without allowing an earned run was southpaw Lauren Soles of New Mexico.  The Lobos hurler (2-0) tossed 14.1 innings, allowing five runs (all unearned) in wins against Seattle and USD.  She was able to overcome a New Mexico defense that combined for eight errors in those two games in which she pitched.  Soles and Estrada today were named Mountain West Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively ... Freshman Brina Buttacavoli of Utah State hit a grand slam in her first plate appearance as a collegian.  With the Aggies down 7-2 to South Dakota State in the seventh inning, her blast brought USU within a run ... Haley Hutton of Colorado State finished with an on-base percentage of .737 as the Rams won two of five games at the Hotel Encanto Invitational at New Mexico State.  Hutton had four hits and a MW-leading nine walks ... Freshman Fahren Glacken of UNLV finished with a conference-high four doubles in five games ... Three different Mountain West players hit two home runs in a game.  And one player (SJSU's Estrada) did it twice.  Estrada had two home runs in a Spartans win vs. Seattle on Friday, and then hit two more Saturday in a win over Portland State.  Michelle Solomon of Fresno State hit two home runs in the Bulldogs' season-opening, 8-0 run-rule win over Fordham.  Oregon State transfer Alleyah Armendariz, now at Utah State, hit two home runs in a 10-7 loss to Iowa State ... Boise State freshman Sara Ketelsleger had nine hits, including three doubles, along with six RBI as the Broncos went 3-2 at the North Texas Invitational ... Returning from a 2014 injury, Devon Bridges of Boise State barely skipped a beat with what has now become a routine weekend for her -- batting .500 with nine hits in 18 at-bats, knocking in four runs, smacking a home run and two doubles, and finishing with a .778 slugging percentage ... Sydnee Cable picked up her first pitching win for San Diego State as the Aztecs defeated Idaho State 8-6 ... Nevada scored seven runs in one inning against 2nd-ranked Oregon, coming from a 7-1 deficit for a briefly-held 8-7 lead ... San Diego State won its season opener for the 14th time in 15 years when it defeated Purdue 2-0 ... Going 4-1 at the Kajikawa Classic, Fresno State won four or more games at a road tournament for the first time in seven years.  The last time the Bulldogs did as well in a tourney away from home, they won the 2008 Judi Garman Classic with a 5-0 record that included wins over then-No. 6 Michigan, No. 20 Long Beach State, Utah, Illinois and host Cal State Fullerton ... New Mexico's team ERA, after one weekend, ranks second in the Mountain West behind Fresno State.  The Lobos finished the first week of play with a team ERA of 1.94, a dramatic improvement over last season when UNM ranked last in the conference in that category at 7.66 ... Boise State leads the Mountain West in doubles with 15 after one week, and no other team is in double figures in that category ... All four of Utah State's losses on opening weekend came against teams (Iowa State and South Dakota State) predicted to finish last in their respective leagues by those conferences' coaches ... Three teams (UNLV, Utah State and Colorado State) finished with team ERAs over 6.00 ... While Fresno State ranked No. 1 in conference ERA after the opening week of play, the Bulldogs' had the worst team batting average among Mountain West teams at .248 ... Nevada, New Mexico and San Diego State all committed more than 10 errors as a team last weekend ... Fresno State had the conference's only pitching staff that did not allow a home run last week ... Opponents stole 11 bases against San Jose State last week (most in the league), while Boise State allowed just two stolen bases ... New Mexico is averaging more than two errors per game after one week of play ... Only two players in the Mountain West had more than two stolen bases last weekend.  Fresno State's Brenna Moss (4) and Malia Rivers (3) combined for seven ... Erica Romero of San Diego State pitched a league-high 23 innings ... San Jose State's Allison Lang and Colorado State freshman Trinity Harrington had two saves apiece, most in the Mountain West, last week ... Chelsea Johnson, a freshman catcher at New Mexico, threw out three base runners attempting to steal ... Upcoming games will be available on video via either television (in one case), computers or mobile devices.  Colorado State's games this week at the Texas Classic will be available on the Longhorn Network.  Fresno State's games this week at the Fresno State Kick-Off Classic will be available on the Mountain West Network, as will San Diego State's games at the Campbell-Cartier Classic and UNLV's games at the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic.