Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekend recap as 5 MW teams travel to Palm Springs


Palm Springs was the place to be this weekend as five Mountain West teams participated in the nation's most prestigious and competitive tournament -- the Mary Nutter Classic.

20th-ranked Fresno State, San Jose State and Colorado State faced the most daunting slates in Palm Springs, with each playing a pair of Top 25 opponents, and the Bulldogs facing an additional perennial power in Northwestern.  While San Diego State and Boise State were also in the tourney in Palm Springs, neither faced a nationally-ranked opponent, but still faced a quality schedule.

UNLV traveled to Florida to play a strong slate of games at the USF tournament, and New Mexico trekked to northern California for the UC Davis tournament.  Nevada continued what can best be described as a soft schedule with games at the Santa Clara tournament, while Utah State had the weekend off.

20th-ranked Fresno State - In Palm Springs, the Bulldogs earned a marquee win by defeating perennial NCAA Tournament team Northwestern of the Big Ten 6-4 in come-from-behind fashion.  In a tie game in the eighth inning, with the international tiebreak rule in effect, freshman Dominique Jackson smashed a 2-run home run, which was followed by a solo homer by Lindsey Willmon.  Jackson was the big hitting star for the Bulldogs, with four home runs in five games against elite competition this weekend, including two in the win over Northwestern.  In all, Fresno State hit an astonishing eight home runs in Palm Springs.  Jackson went deep versus 12th-ranked Oklahoma in a game that the Bulldogs narrowly lost, 3-2.  In the seventh, Jackson's homer cut the Sooners lead to a run and Fresno State had the potential tying run on base and winning run at the plate before falling.  In a 3-1 win over defending Big West champ Cal State Northridge Sunday, Jackson hit another homer and senior Bria Kennedy hit a pair of home runs in a game where she batted leadoff for the first time in her Bulldog career.  Jill Compton (7-1) limited Cal State Northridge to only two hits in a complete-game win over the Matadors.  It was CSUN's lowest hit total of the season.  7th-ranked Oregon and Loyola Marymount sent their ace pitchers to the circle to face the Bulldogs and won.  All-American Cheridan Hawkins shut down Fresno State, and LMU -- as it did when the Lions shut out Oregon State earlier in the tournament -- won in a game where the Bulldogs had trouble defensively.

San Jose State - In Palm Springs, the Spartans started off the weekend with a pair of wins, beating Bethune-Cookman University 13-6 and Long Island-Brooklyn 11-5.  Bethune-Cookman appeared at both weekends in Palm Springs as the Mary Nutter Classic expanded to two weekends this season.  BCU went 0-11 the past two weekends and has lost 12 straight games.  LIU-Brooklyn also went winless in Palm Springs and was outscored 56-3 in the process.  San Jose State had big problems in a game versus a very talented Washington team.  The Huskies rolled to a 17-1 win in five innings.  Against Georgia, Madison Aurin homered but the Bulldogs prevailed 7-3.  In a game against South Bay rival Stanford, the Cardinal rolled to a 9-3 victory.  Considering that Stanford has lost to Mountain West teams New Mexico, Boise State and San Diego State this season, the lopsided result was a surprise.  Chantelle Ladner (3-4) went the distance against Georgia, and gave up 15 hits.

Colorado State - In Palm Springs, the Rams defeated struggling Long Island-Brooklyn 12-0, and held off Loyola Marymount in a 4-3 win, their best of the weekend.  Against 25th-ranked Cal, 17th-ranked Missouri, and Long Beach State, the Rams were unable to score more than a run against any of the three teams, while allowing a total of 18 runs.  Maci Stouffer's 3-run homer in the win over LMU was the decisive blow in that one, and Holly Reinke tossed a 2-hitter in the victory over LIU-Brooklyn.

San Diego State - In Palm Springs, the Aztecs became the third Mountain West team this season to knock off a Stanford team that was selected to finish last in the Pac-12 by that conference's coaches.  A day after the Cardinal was run-ruled by Boise State in a shocker, Stanford was beaten 7-4 by the Aztecs.  San Diego State picked up a wild 14-12 win over Oklahoma State to begin the tournament, scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth for the come-from-behind win.  The Cowgirls (5-10) and Aztecs combined for seven errors and each team had 13 hits.  SDSU also had a win over struggling Bethune-Cookman, losers of 12 in a row.  San Diego State suffered losses against Cal State Northridge and Nebraska in its third and fourth games of the weekend.

Boise State - In Palm Springs, the Broncos might have found the secret to turning things around, at least a little.  After losing 11 straight games to begin the season, Boise State won three in a row.  BSU came from behind twice against LMU, and scored twice with the international tiebreak rule in effect in the eighth inning of that 1-run victory.  A 2-1 victory over defending WAC champion New Mexico State was a good one, but the one that will have people talking is Boise State's 9-1 thrashing of Stanford in run-rule fashion (six innings).  The Cardinal are no longer the power they were years ago, but a win over Stanford still looks good on paper.  Kayla Clausen homered and Nicole Wilson allowed only four hits in the victory over the Cardinal.  Boise State lost a 9-4 game to Cal State Northridge Sunday, and had a game cancelled against a Bethune-Cookman team that had lost 12 straight games and was unable to field a team for the scheduled morning game on Sunday.

New Mexico - At the UC Davis tournament, the Lobos continued a pattern that has continued for seven straight games:  Win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win.  New Mexico began the weekend with a 3-2 win over a South Dakota team that has struggled mightily this season, losing 14 of its first 15 games.  It was followed by a 6-0 loss to Iowa State and a pair of games (a win and a loss) versus Idaho State.  The Lobos came from a 3-run deficit, including scoring twice in the seventh, to knock off UC Davis 4-3 Sunday in what amounted to their best win of the weekend.  The Aggies, coached by former Boise State head coach Erin Thorpe, are 7-7.

UNLV - At the South Florida tournament, the Rebels started off hot, picking up a very nice 14-3, run-rule win over Wisconsin.  From there, it was four straight losses.  UNLV was run-ruled by the hosts from South Florida and then lost a pair of games versus Kansas.  Sunday, Wisconsin bounced back from that earlier run-rule loss and picked up a 6-3 win over the Rebels.  The 1-4 record isn't great, but it was a quality group of opponents the Rebels faced.

Nevada - The Wolf Pack spent another weekend beating up on outmatched opponents and have run their record to 13-2 on the season.  The record is great, just as we predicted in January.  The schedule, however, is alarming, especially when compared to the impressive slates the other Mountain West teams are facing in preparation for the conference season.  For the second consecutive weekend, Nevada did not face a team that currently has a winning record.  Two wins this weekend came over a Santa Clara team that is 4-10 and historically one of the worst softball programs in the west.  Two wins (both 1-run victories, and one in extra inings) this weekend came over a 3-11 UConn team.  The other was probably Nevada's best win since the season's opening weekend -- a 2-0 win over Illinois-Chicago.  The weekend before this one was a similar story ... victories over the likes of Portland State (4-11 overall), Robert Morris (2-11), and Southern Utah, which has won just 3 times in 17 games.  On the bright side, at least the Pack is winning these games rather than losing.

Utah State - The Aggies were idle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Watch every game from Palm Springs this weekend live!

You can watch every game from the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs this weekend live thru a subscription to Flo Softball. We heard positive reviews from last weekend's games in Palm Springs related to the live streaming, so hopefully it will go smoothly this time around as well. At the Classic are 20th-ranked Fresno State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Boise State and San Jose State of the Mountain West. Marquee matchups include the Bulldogs vs. 12th-ranked Oklahoma Friday and 7th-ranked Oregon Saturday in a battle of Top 25 teams. Go to palmspringssoftballclassic.com for more information on how to purchase.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fresno State moves up to 20th in both major Top 25 polls

Coach Trisha Ford's unbeaten Fresno State Bulldog softball team is ranked 20th in the country in both major polls out this morning.

The Bulldogs, off to a 10-0 start to a season for the first time in 19 years, rose four spots in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll this morning to 20th.  They rose from 22nd to 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings.

The appearance at No. 20 in the coaches poll is Fresno State's highest ranking in more than six years in that poll.  Exactly six years and one day ago, the Bulldogs were 19th in the NFCA rankings released February 22, 2010.

Fresno State has already defeated Tennessee, which is ranked 14th this week in the NFCA poll, and Utah, which is receiving enough votes to rank just outside the Top 25 at No. 26 in the USA Softball poll.

This week, and the next four weeks, will be full of major tests and marquee opponents for the Bulldogs, who play arguably the best non-conference schedule in the Mountain West, and one of the toughest in the nation.  At the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs this week, Fresno State will meet 12th-ranked Oklahoma and 7th-ranked Oregon in addition to always-strong Big Ten team Northwestern (a team the Bulldogs will face twice in the next three weeks), defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge, and Loyola Marymount.

Upcoming marquee games include two games against No. 9-ranked Washington (9-1), single games versus nationally-ranked Baylor and Cal, as well as matchups against Oregon State (11-1), Long Beach State and Ohio State, which are all receiving votes.  Fresno State also still has remaining games against defending West Coast Conference champion BYU, two against defending Big Sky champion Weber State, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, and Pacific, a team that defeated then-No. 3 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge 10 days ago.

While it will be seemingly impossible for the unbeaten Bulldogs to go unscathed with that type of demanding schedule, the team's RPI should be their best in years.  The first RPI of the season should be released in about three weeks.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Red-hot Fresno State is 10-0 for the first time in 19 years


A strong non-conference weekend in Mountain West softball concluded with the best start to a season ever for a team in the league.  No. 22/24 Fresno State improved to a perfect 10-0 to start the season, sweeping five games this weekend, including a pair over Kansas of the Big 12. Combined with their wins last week over Tennessee and Utah, four of the Bulldogs' 10 wins have come over teams that finished in the RPI top 30 a year ago.  Six of Fresno State's 10 wins have come over teams from the Power 5 conferences (SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12).

Sunday, coach Trisha Ford's squad won twice and moved its record to 10-0 for the first time since 1997 when the Bulldogs were a member of the WAC.

No. 22/24 Fresno State 4, UC Riverside 3 - The Bulldogs took on the Highlanders, who were coming off a come-from-behind upset of Kansas in the game immediately preceding this one.  UC Riverside kept that momentum and stormed to a 3-0 lead against Bulldog starting pitcher Taylor Langdon, who was replaced by Hannah Harris in the third inning.  The Bulldogs scored the game's final four runs, including the game-winner on a bases-loaded walk to Bria Kennedy with two outs in the seventh after Kennedy fouled off some pitches in a quality at-bat.  Fresno State had multiple chances to break the game open, but the Highlanders played a strong game and had their 3-game winning streak snapped.  Lindsey Willmon tripled to lead off the seventh and scored the winning run.  Harris pitched brilliantly, allowing only one hit in five innings of relief to secure the win.  Malia Rivers had a game-high 3 hits and two RBI to lead the Bulldogs.  The Highlanders fell to 7-5 on the season.

No. 22/24 Fresno State 10, Sacramento State 2 (5 innings) - Bulldog freshman pitcher Kamalani Dung made her first career start and made the most of it, with a strong complete-game effort to improve to 2-0 this season.  Dung allowed just five hits, and only one for extra bases as Fresno State pushed its record to 10 wins in a row.  Counting regular-season victories only, the Bulldogs have won 21 straight games.  Trisha Ford's team won its final 11 games of the regular season in 2015 before falling in the NCAA Tournament.  Alyssa Villalpando went 3-for-3 with five RBI, Lindsey Willmon 3-for-4, and Paige Gumz and Bria Kennedy both went 2-for-3 as Fresno State rolled to the win.

Nevada 9, Robert Morris 0 (5 innings) and Nevada 8, Southern Utah 0 (5 innings) - The Wolf Pack used the pitching of McKenna Isenberg (two hits allowed in five innings of work) and freshman Brooke Bolinger (one hit in five innings) to dispatch of the Colonials and Thunderbirds.  Isenberg struck out 11 to match a career high and the Wolf Pack picked up their fifth and sixth wins in a row.  Nevada's 8-2 overall record is its best start in two seasons.  Amanda Weis and Jennifer Purcell both hit home runs in the win over Southern Utah.

San Diego St. 2, San Diego 1 - The Aztecs scored a run in the sixth to snap a tie and go on for the win in San Diego over the Toreros at the Campbell-Cartier Classic.  SDSU's win came when Taylor Stewart singled home the game-winner following a walk and Toreros error.  USD committed three miscues in the game, which featured a total of just nine hits (five for the Aztecs and four for the Toreros).  Freshman Julie McDonald, the second of three San Diego State pitchers used in the contest, picked up the win by allowing two hits in four innings of relief.

UNLV 7, Portland State 0 - In Las Vegas, the Rebels used the pitching of Kwyn Cooper and Alyssa Batastini, and got a pair of hits offensively from both Alyssa Cordova and Myranda Bueno to shut out the struggling Vikings, who remained winless at 0-10.  Cooper and Batastini combined on a 4-hitter.

Texas A&M 8, New Mexico 7 - In a game played in Palm Springs, the Lobos dropped a heartbreaker to the Aggies.  New Mexico took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh, only to see A&M erupt for five runs.  UNM spotted the Aggies the game's first three runs and trailed 3-0 after one.  But the Lobos answered back quickly, taking the lead with a 4-run second, and pushing the lead to four runs in the fourth by adding three more.  Jasmine Casados had a pair of hits and three RBI.  In the seventh, freshman Colette Robert, who had been in control to that point, was unable to record an out as the first five Aggies reached base.  Krissy Fortner came on in relief and was able to get two outs before A&M walked off with the win.  The Aggies had 12 hits, including four for extra bases.  All nine New Mexico hits were singles.

Oregon State 12, San Jose St. 2 (5 innings) - In Las Vegas, the Spartans fell in a run-rule game for the fourth time this season.  In fact, it was the fourth consecutive run-rule game for San Jose State, which went 2-2 in those contests this weekend.  This one was all OSU.  The Beavers scored in every inning but the third and pounded out 14 hits.  The first five batters in Oregon State's lineup went a combined 11-for-16 with 11 RBI.

Grand Canyon 3, Colorado State 1 - In Las Vegas, the Rams weren't able to add to a winning streak that began Saturday with wins over BYU and Cal State Northridge.  Grand Canyon snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth on back to back doubles following a Rams error.  In the seventh, Colorado State put a pair of runners aboard and brought up the potential winning run, but was unable to score.  Taryn Arcarese had two hits to lead the Rams.  Holly Reinke took the loss, despite a quality outing against an underrated team in Grand Canyon.

Cal State Northridge 9, Utah State 2 - In Las Vegas, the Aggies fell to the Matadors.  Utah State used a trio of pitchers, but was unable to stop the Matadors' offense.  A 4-run sixth inning turned a 3-run deficit into a 7-run margin in favor of the defending Big West champions.  Northridge pitcher Taylor Troost struck out 10 in the complete-game win.  Sarina Jaramillo was a bright spot for Utah State, picking up three hits, including a double.

Oregon State 6, Boise State 5 and Wichita State 5, Boise State 4 - The difficult start to the season continued Sunday in Las Vegas for the Broncos.  Boise State lost its 10th and 11th consecutive games, falling in a pair of 1-run affairs -- neither of which went seven innings.  BSU fell to Wichita State by a run in a game called after six innings due to a drop-dead time rule game.  The game was actually in the seventh inning with Boise State sending the potential tying run to the plate when the game was called.  Against the Beavers, the Broncos fell in eight innings in a game decided by the dreaded international tiebreak rule.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fresno State improves to 8-0 with another win over the Kansas Jayhawks


All nine teams were in action Saturday around the Mountain West, and the top highlight of the day again came from undefeated and nationally-ranked Fresno State, which refuses to lose.  The Bulldogs earned their sixth win already against a power conference team, beating Kansas to remain a perfect 8-0 on the season.  But there were other Mountain West teams making noise Saturday.  San Diego State knocked off No. 25/22 California 2-1 for the Aztecs' first win over a ranked team in years.  Colorado State and San Jose State, both of whom entered the day with just one win on the season, picked up a pair of victories, as did Utah State and New Mexico.

No. 22/24 Fresno State 3, Kansas 2 (8 innings) - The Bulldogs knocked off the Jayhawks of the Big 12 for a second straight day behind some gutsy pitching from Jill Compton and a determined team that never says die.  In a game worthy of an NCAA Tournament caliber atmosphere, this one had it, much to the delight of the 1,400 in attendance.  Fresno State grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third when Bria Kennedy led off with a single, advanced to second on a beautiful bunt single by Whitney Smith, and came home on a Malia Rivers RBI single.  It would stay that way until the sixth when Kansas scored the tying run.  Both teams threatened but had trouble scoring in the later innings as Compton and KU pitcher Andie Formby were locked in a tight pitcher's duel.  In the eighth, with the international tiebreak rule in effect, the Jayhawks took a 2-1 lead on a 1-out single to score the placed runner.  With Lindsey Willmon placed on second base to begin the Bulldogs' half of the eighth, pinch hitter Chase LeeHong was hit by a pitch.  Kierra Willis then hit a very tough ground ball to the KU second baseman, and reached safely to load the bases with no one out.  Paige Gumz then singled home the tying run on a bloop to the outfield.  With one away, and with a large Margie Wright Diamond crowd roaring, Formby walked freshman Morgan Howe to bring home the game-winning run.  Compton struck out four and improved her record to 5-0, while Formby suffered her first loss of the year to fall to 3-1.  Kennedy had a pair of hits and reached base in all three at-bats.  Fresno State continued its best start this century, moving to 8-0, a record it hasn't had since 1999.  Four of the Bulldogs' eight wins so far have come against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season, and six of the eight have come over teams from the five power conferences.

San Diego St. 2, No. 25/22 California 1 - In San Diego, the Aztecs handed the Bears their second loss to an unranked team on the afternoon, and likely knocked Cal out of the Top 25 altogether.  Both San Diego State runs were unearned thanks to a Bears error in the third, and SDSU managed just four hits in the game.  But Erica Romero kept the Bears off-balance enough to pick up the win, scattering six hits and striking out three.  Romero has five of the Aztecs' six wins this season.  Nisa Ontiveros was the tough-luck loser, tossing a complete-game 4-hitter, striking out 10, and not allowing an earned run.  Cal fell to 5-3 after being shut out earlier in the day by Texas Tech.

Colorado State 10, BYU 6 (8 innings) and Colorado State 6, CS Northridge 4 - In Las Vegas, the Rams had their best day of the young season, beating both the defending champions of the West Coast Conference and Big West Conference in back to back games.  In the game against the Cougars, the teams combined for eight runs in the eighth inning with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  CSU scored six runs and BYU responded with two in the final frame.  Holly Reinke picked up her second win of the season in the complete-game effort.

Utah State 9, Southern Utah 4 and Utah State 6, UTEP 1 - In Las Vegas, the Aggies had little trouble with two teams that had been giving other Mountain West teams fits in the first week of the season.  Utah State has won five of six following an 0-4 start to the season, evening its record at 5-5.

UNLV 8, Robert Morris 3 - Freshman pitcher Alyssa Batastini picked up her first win as a collegian as the host Rebels knocked off the Colonials.  Kwyn Cooper went 4-for-4 and Alyssa Cordova had a home run and two RBI.

Utah 9, Boise State 1 and Weber State 10, Boise State 0 (5 innings) -The worst start to a softball season in school history continued for the Broncos, who struggled again Saturday in Las Vegas.  Boise State was no-hit against the Wildcats in game two, and the Broncos finished with as many errors (5) as hits (5) on the afternoon overall.  The Utes used three different pitchers in game one, and Boise State's only run Saturday was scored on a wild pitch.  The Broncos are 0-9.

New Mexico 8 , Bethune-Cookman 4 and New Mexico 13, Pacific 5 (5 innings) - In Palm Springs, the Lobos evened their overall record at 4-4 with a win over Bethune-Cookman.  Michala Erickson and Mariah Rimmer had two hits apiece, while Lauren Soles picked up her second win of the year.  In a late-night game, the Lobos spotted the Tigers three first-inning runs before scoring 13 of the next 15 in a run-rule rout.

San Jose St. 8, Portland St. 0 (6 innings) and San Jose St. 16, UTEP 3 (5 innings) - The Spartans entered Saturday in Las Vegas with a 1-7 record but came away with a pair of run-rule wins.  No information was available on either game, but the Spartans' opponents fell to a combined 3-15 record.  Portland State remained winless at 0-9, while the Miners dropped to 3-6.

Nevada 4, Portland St. 2 - The Pack knocked off the winless (0-8) Vikings in Las Vegas.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Unbeaten Fresno State knocks off Big 12 power Kansas, moves to 7-0

Photo credit: Keith Kountz

Action continued for all nine Mountain West teams on Friday.  Fresno State, ranked 22nd by ESPN.com/USA Softball and 24th by USA Today/NFCA, opened its home schedule with a big sweep, taking down the Kansas Jayhawks of the Big 12, along with Sacramento State.  In the process, the Bulldogs are a perfect 7-0 to begin a season for the first time in 17 years.  The last time Fresno State was 7-0, the Bulldogs ended up reaching the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City that year (1999).

No. 22/24 Fresno State 5, Kansas 3 - Kierra Willis delivered a 2-run home run and double to finish with three RBI as the Bulldogs made it a clean sweep against Power 5 conference foes to begin the season.  Fresno State, which had already beaten teams from four of the nation's top five conferences -- the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC -- added this one against a Big 12 power in the Jayhawks, who are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.  Jill Compton improved to 4-0 on the season with the complete-game win that featured eight strikeouts.  Malia Rivers joined Willis with a multi-hit game and freshman Dominique Jackson had an RBI single.

No. 22/24 Fresno State 9, Sacramento State 0 (5 innings) - It was a hit parade for the Bulldogs who put together a 6-run second inning and coasted to a run-rule rout of the Hornets.  Hannah Harris earned the victory, going the first four innings and allowing just two hits.  Freshman pitcher Kira McKechnie made her collegiate debut and worked a quick top of the fifth inning to close it out with the help of some strong infield defense by the Bulldogs.  Dominique Jackson went 3-for-3 with an RBI, Whitney Smith had two hits and three RBI, and Malia Rivers added a pair of hits.  Victoria Trevino added a pinch-hit RBI single for the game's final margin.

Arkansas 2, New Mexico 1 - In the Lobos' opening game on weekend one of the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, the Razorbacks scored a walk-off win with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning.  A pair of singles led off the bottom of that inning for Arkansas, which trailed New Mexico 1-0 early.

Utah 4, San Jose St. 0 - In Las Vegas, the Utes hit three home runs en route to the win over the Spartans, who dropped their sixth game in seven outings to begin the season.  Freshman Chantelle Ladner (0-3) took the loss, while Miranda Viramontes got the start and the win for the Utes (5-3).  Utah was shut out by Fresno State five days ago.

BYU 8, Boise State 0 (5 innings) - In Las Vegas, Olivia Sanchez tossed a complete-game 1-hitter as the Cougars knocked off the Broncos in five innings.  Nicole Wilson took the loss for Boise State, which lost its sixth straight game to start the year.  Ashley Thompson had a pair of hits, including a 3-run homer for BYU (6-2).

Nevada 8, UC Davis 7 (8 innings) - In Las Vegas, Megan Sweet singled with the international tiebreak rule in effect and the Wolf Pack edged the Aggies.  Jennifer Purcell, who was placed on second base via the ITB to begin the bottom of the eighth, came home to score the winning run.

Wichita St. 13, San Jose St. 2 (6 innings) - The Shockers erupted for 10 combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings to break open a close game on their way to a run-rule rout of the Spartans.  Wichita State (3-3) pounded out 14 hits and held SJSU to six.  Katelyn Linford fell to 0-3 with the loss and San Jose State fell to 1-7.

San Diego St. 2, South Dakota 1 - In San Diego, the Aztecs broke a late tie and held on for the win over the Coyotes of the Summit League.  South Dakota, which is winless at 0-7, had a season-high in hits and out-hit San Diego State 7-5.  The 1-run margin of defeat was the first time the Coyotes have come within fewer than four runs of an opponent this season.

San Diego St. 13, Texas Tech 3 (5 innings) - After spotting the Red Raiders a 2-0 lead, San Diego State stormed back on its home field with a pair of 5-run frames to win going away.  SDSU moved to 5-3 on the year, while Tech dropped to 3-5.  The Red Raiders were outscored 19-3 in losses to both the University of San Diego and San Diego State in San Diego Friday.

New Mexico 6, Loyola Marymount 5 - In Palm Springs, the Lobos spotted the Lions a 5-0 lead and then roared back with the game's final six runs to pick up a victory.  A 4-run sixth pushed New Mexico in front as UNM scored its final two on an error and hit by pitch.  Colette Robert (2-2) picked up the win and Krissy Fortner earned the save.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Compton named National Pitcher of the Week by NFCA


She's won a multitude of honors over her 4-year career, but today had to be a career highlight for Fresno State pitcher Jill Compton.

Early this morning, the senior saw her team enter the national Top 25 rankings for the first time in five years, coming in at No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 24 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll.

Then she was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for a staggering 10th time.  And later in the day came one of the ultimate honors, as Compton was named the NCAA Division I National Pitcher of the Week by the NFCA following Fresno State's 5-0 start last weekend that included wins over two Top 25 programs in Tennessee and Utah, and four victories over teams from power conferences.

Joining Compton as a Mountain West honoree was first baseman Lindsey Willmon, who earned MW Player of the Week honors.  The transfer from Hawai'i hit .467 with five RBI and two home runs among her accomplishments at the Kajikawa Classic.  Willmon hit home runs in both of the Bulldogs' season-opening games on February 11.  Her blast, along with that of freshman Dominique Jackson, in the game against Tennessee, played a major role in Fresno State's dramatic and important upset win.  Willmon went 4-for-4 against the Lady Vols with a pair of doubles to go along with her home run.

Fresno State roars into both Top 25 polls after 5-0 start


For the first time in five years, Fresno State is officially a Top 25 team.

After flirting with the national rankings for portions of the last few seasons and often receiving votes in the polls, today it became official:  After a perfect 5-0 weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, the Bulldogs jumped into the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 coaches poll this morning at No. 24.

An hour later, it was revealed that the Bulldogs soared into the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 rankings at No. 22.

A fixture in the national polls every year of their existence until 2011, Fresno State had not been ranked in the Top 25 since the week of April 5, 2011.  The Bulldogs spent two weeks in the national rankings that season, peaking at No. 23.

Their No. 22 ranking this morning in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll is the highest for a Fresno State softball team in a major poll in six years.  In 2010, the Bulldogs reached as high as No. 17 nationally in the coaches' poll.

Coach Trisha Ford's squad is coming off one of the strongest opening weekends to a season in school history.  The Bulldogs beat then-No. 8 Tennessee and then-No. 23 Utah in Tempe, and picked up four wins over Power 5 conference teams.  In addition to the wins over Tennessee of the SEC and Utah of the Pac-12, the Bulldogs defeated Boston College of the ACC, and the Big Ten's Indiana Hoosiers.  Also adding to the 5-0 start:  a victory over WAC team Seattle University.

Fresno State opens its home season this Friday against another Power 5 conference team when the Bulldogs meet Kansas of the Big 12 at 4 pm at Margie Wright Diamond, followed by Sacramento State.  Saturday, Fresno State will meet the Jayhawks again, before batting Sacramento State and UC Riverside Sunday.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fresno State caps perfect 5-0 weekend with a 2nd Top 25 win


Down went the Big Ten.  Down went the SEC.  Down went the ACC.  And Sunday, down went the Pac-12 too.  All four of those power conferences saw their teams fall to a Fresno State team that appears poised to jump into the national Top 25 polls when rankings are released Tuesday morning.

Fresno State completed one of the best season-opening weekends in the vaunted history of the school's softball program.  Given the storied tradition of Fresno State softball, that's saying a lot.  Coach Trisha Ford's team went a perfect 5-0, including wins over No. 8-ranked Tennessee on Friday and No. 23 Utah today.

Jill Compton wrapped up a sure-fire Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honor with another outstanding performance Sunday against the Utes.  For the weekend, Compton threw 21 innings, went 3-0, picked up a one-inning save, and allowed only a single run.  Considering that she pitched 20 of those 21 innings against teams from power conferences, the feat is all that more impressive

Compton had to be at her best Sunday when Utah sent its ace -- first-team All-Pac-12 pitcher Katie Donovan to the circle.  And the game proved to be what most expected:  a tough pitcher's duel.  Each team threatened, but it was the Bulldogs who finally broke through in the fifth inning.

Lindsey Willmon, who had a stellar debut this weekend in a Bulldog uniform with a .476 average, led off the frame with a single, and freshman Dominique Jackson (.429 weekend average) walked. Willmon would plate the first run of the game on a perfectly-executed bunt by Whitney Smith.  Malia Rivers followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0 and that's all Compton would need.

Donovan took the loss for the Utes.  Compton finished the weekend with a sterling 0.33 ERA.  Utah fell to 2-2, with its other loss coming in extra innings to nationally-ranked Notre Dame.  The Utes were coming off a pair of wins Saturday in which they outscored their opponents 17-0 in two run-rule victories.

UNLV 11, Utah Valley 1 (5 innings) - At the Sportco Classic in Las Vegas, the host Rebels won their third straight game after an opening day defeat on Thursday.  Emily Haslinger's home run highlighted a 9-run bottom of the third inning when UNLV snapped a 1-all tie.  Alyssa Cordova and Jamie DePippo had two hits each and Kwyn Cooper earned the win in relief.  UNLV improved to 3-1, while UVU dropped to 1-4.

San Diego St. 2, Texas-San Antonio 0 - The Aztecs got some revenge for an earlier loss to the Roadrunners this weekend as Erica Romero and Julie McDonald combined on a 4-hit shutout.  SDSU improved to 3-2, while UTSA fell to 2-3.  A hit-by-pitch in the third inning scored the eventual game-winning run as the Aztecs went in front.

Utah State 5, Maryland 0 - The Aggies picked up their second win of the weekend thanks to the pitching of Noelle Johnson, who struck out nine and didn't walk a batter in the complete-game effort.  USU is 2-4, while the Terps are 2-3.

Nevada 2, East Carolina 1 - Freshman Brooke Bolinger scattered seven hits to pick up her first career win, and Amanda Weis hit a home run in a win over the Pirates.  The Pack moved to 3-2 on the season, while ECU is now also 3-2.

UCLA 8, Colorado State 3 - The Rams fell to 0-5 on the weekend but hung tough for awhile against the 7th-ranked Bruins in College Station at the Texas A&M tournament.  Three of CSU's five losses came to Top 25-ranked teams.  UCLA improved to 4-1.

Oregon State 11, New Mexico 1 (5 innings) and Kentucky 15, New Mexico 6 (5 innings) - The Lobos had pitching difficulties in both games and dropped a pair of games Sunday in Tempe.  The Beavers got on top early and never looked back in game one, while the ranked Wildcats stormed in front 8-0 before the Lobos cut the deficit to three before it ballooned again.  Karissa Haleman hit home runs in both games to highlight UNM's effort.  The Lobos are 2-3, while Oregon State is now 4-2 and Kentucky is 3-1.

Impressive Bulldogs move to 4-0, while Lobos, Rebels get key wins


Fresno State continued to be the story in the Mountain West on the first Saturday of the 2016 season.

The Bulldogs picked up where they left off on Friday, grabbing two more wins at the Kajikawa Classic to push their record to a perfect 4-0.  Jill Compton was spectacular in the circle, limiting Boston College to just three hits as Fresno State grabbed a 3-1 win to knock the Eagles from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Three of the Bulldogs' four wins the past two days have come over teams from power conferences (the SEC, Big Ten and now ACC).  Fresno State has a chance for another Sunday when it meets its second ranked team of the weekend -- 23rd-ranked Utah.

Saturday's late game at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe matched a pair of 3-0 teams in Boston College and Fresno State.  After pounding 16 hits in an 8-1 rout of Nevada earlier in the day, the Eagles couldn't solve Compton.  But, in a tight pitcher's duel, it was BC who scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a 2-out RBI single.

Fresno State would rally in the seventh with three runs in the top of the inning.  Malia Rivers tied the game with an RBI single, and the Bulldogs took the lead on a Boston College error before Paige Gumz hit a sacrifice fly to deep left for the 2-run cushion.  Compton pitched a quick and perfect bottom of the seventh.

Earlier, Fresno State posted a 7-4 win over Seattle after falling behind 2-0.  Gumz hit a 2-run homer in that one, while Alyssa Villalpando and Kierra Willis both tripled, and a pair of freshmen -- Dominique Jackson and Vanessa Hernandez -- hit doubles.  Jackson went 2-for-2, while Rivers had three RBI in the win over the Redhawks.  Hannah Harris started and got the win in that one, while freshman Kamalani Dung saw her first action in the circle for the Bulldogs.  Dung struck out three and allowed just an earned run in three innings of work before Compton tossed one inning to pick up the save.

New Mexico split a pair of games, getting one of its bigger non-conference wins in awhile with an 8-4 triumph over Stanford. Later, the Lobos were shut out by Cal Poly 2-0.

UNLV, in its lone game of the day, defeated Syracuse 6-1 behind Janine Petmecky.  The Rebels joined the Lobos as teams with 2-1 records.

San Diego State split a pair of 1-run games, falling to UT-San Antonio 3-2 before beating Weber State 2-1.  The Aztecs are 2-2 entering play Sunday.  After going 2-0 Friday, Nevada dropped a pair of games Saturday.  Along with the aforementioned 8-1 loss to Boston College, the Pack fell 3-2 to Wisconsin during a morning game in Tempe.

San Jose State picked up its first win -- a 10-1 (six innings) rout of Virginia, which committed three first-inning errors to set the tone.  SJSU scored seven times in that opening frame and never looked back.  The Spartans later lost 9-2 to 8th-ranked Tennessee, which rebounded from a 7-3 loss to Fresno State on Friday.

Utah State fell 5-2 to Indiana as the Hoosiers picked up their first win of the season.  It would be USU winning its first game later in the day -- a 6-2 victory over Bradley.  Colorado State fell to 0-4 with two losses.  The Rams couldn't hold a late lead and fell 9-8 to Wichita State in eight innings, and then were shut out by Texas A&M 3-0 at the Aggies' tournament.  Boise State completed an 0-5 weekend with a 4-2 loss to Bradley.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fresno State shocks No. 8 Tennessee, rolls past Indiana


On the opening day of the 2016 season for the defending Mountain West champions, Fresno State made an impressive statement with a marquee victory.

The Bulldogs knocked off 8th-ranked Tennessee 7-3 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe behind the pitching of Hannah Harris and Taylor Langdon, and the bats of Lindsey Willmon and Dominique Jackson.  Earlier in the day, it was Jill Compton shutting out the Big Ten's Indiana Hoosiers as Fresno State completed one of the most impressive opening days of a season in school history.

Jackson, who had an RBI single in her first collegiate at-bat versus Indiana earlier in the day, got the Bulldogs off to a great start with a 3-run home run to left in the second inning against Tennessee.  Willmon, in her Bulldog debut after transferring from Hawai'i, had an exceptional day with five hits and five RBI in seven at-bats. Against the Lady Vols, she went a perfect 4-for-4 with three of the four hits going for extras bases.

Willmon smacked a 2-run homer against Tennessee for her second round-tripper of the day after also going yard against Indiana earlier in the day.  She added a pair of doubles and a single against the Vols to finish with three RBI.  Her 2-run homer in the fourth was part of a 3-run inning that put Fresno State in front 6-1.

Freshman Morgan Howe delivered pinch-hit singles in both Bulldog wins, including an RBI single in that important fourth inning against Tennessee.  Fresno State pounded out 24 hits in the two games.  Langdon got the start and the victory by going 3+ innings and scattering five hits against the Vols, while Harris pitched 4+ frames of impressive relief, limiting Tennessee to just three hits -- all singles.

Compton tossed a strong first game against Indiana, going the first six innings as Fresno State became the first Mountain West team to post a shutout this season.  Compton allowed only three hits, struck out seven, and didn't walk a batter.  Harris tossed the final frame.  At the plate, Willmon and Alyssa Villalpando hit home runs and Paige Gumz had two hits as the Bulldogs had consistent hitting throughout the lineup.  Eight of nine Fresno State starters notched hits in the win over the Hoosiers.

Indiana took it on the chin versus Nevada earlier in the day 5-3.  The Wolf Pack joined Fresno State as the only MW teams to go 2-0 Friday.  Nevada came from two runs down in the bottom of the seventh to nip Bradley 7-6 earlier.  Chase Redington got that victory, while McKenna Isenberg picked up the win over IU.

San Diego State went 1-1, pounding the overmatched Golden Griffins of Canisius (Buffalo, NY) 14-2 in five innings.  Later, SDSU fell to Cal State Fullerton 8-4.

New Mexico won its opener 2-1 over the USD Toreros.  Earlier in the day, it was USD winning by the same score over Boise State.  The Broncos lost twice Friday to fall to 0-4 on the season.  Maryland defeated the Broncos 9-4 earlier in the day.  Also falling to 0-4 on the year was San Jose State.  The Spartans couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 loss to Boston College and then tried to rally late but it wasn't enough in a 14-10 slugfest to Oregon State.

Colorado State was shut out at the Texas A&M Invitational 3-0 by Wichita State in its season opener Friday, but the Rams broke out to a 3-0 lead in their later game vs. 7th-ranked UCLA.  The Bruins scored six of the next eight runs in the contest and UCLA ended up prevailing 6-5.

Utah State fell to defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge in the Aggies' only game of the day. And in late-night action in Las Vegas, the Rebels didn't start their game until after 10 p.m. local time. But UNLV picked up its first win, defeating the Cardinals of Lamar 3-2.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rough first day of the season for 4 MW teams


Four Mountain West teams opened their 2016 seasons on Thursday and none of it was pretty.  In fact, there's no place to go but up after today.

San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Boise State combined to go 0-7 on the day, with five of the seven losses coming via the run rule.  The Spartans, Aggies and Broncos all lost twice at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, while UNLV -- the lone MW team to open the season at home -- fell in a single game to Texas Tech in Las Vegas.

Mountain West teams were outscored 64-14 in games played Thursday.

Coach Peter Turner's Spartans, predicted to finish third in the Mountain West this season by the conference coaches and fourth by those of us here at the MW Softball Blog, were shockingly shut out twice in run-rule affairs.  The league's premier hitting team a year ago with a .350 team batting average, San Jose State lost a pair of 8-0 games and was stunningly no-hit by BYU pitcher McKenna Bull in Thursday's opener in six innings.  Later, heralded newcomer and Australian National Team member Chantelle Ladner, a freshman pitcher, started vs. No. 22/20 Arizona State and took the loss in an 8-0 (five innings) game.

Also falling to ASU today was Utah State, an 11-1 (five innings) loser, with April Brown getting the loss.  The Aggies also were run-ruled 9-0 (five innings) by a Virginia Cavaliers team that struggled mightily a season ago with a 16-40 record.  Noelle Johnson took the loss for Utah State in that one.  Virginia also later run-ruled Boise State 12-4 in five innings, hitting four home runs along the way.  The Broncos took it on the chin with a 9-6 loss to Creighton (1-1) in their opening game.  The 3-run margin of defeat was the closest a MW team would come to a victory on opening day.

Emily Haslinger had a 2-run triple in UNLV's game against Texas Tech, but it wasn't enough in a 7-3 setback.

The league will try to pick up some wins Friday as all nine teams are in action.  Defending Mountain West champion Fresno State is in action against Indiana and No. 8/7 Tennessee, while San Diego State opens against Canisius of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

MW coaches pick Fresno State to win 2016 crown


The Mountain West softball coaches have spoken.

And they're in agreement with our predictions last month on who should win the 2016 conference title.  Defending MW champion Fresno State picked up all eight possible votes in balloting released by the conference office today.

The Bulldogs earned a perfect total of 64 points and were picked to win the title for a second straight season after going 20-4 a year ago.  With coaches unable to vote for their own teams, San Diego State received the other first-place vote and finished with 57 points to rank second.

Those vote totals mean Fresno State ranked No. 1 and San Diego State No. 2 on every coach's ballot except for Trisha Ford and Kathy Van Wyk, who could not vote for their own teams.

San Jose State and New Mexico were selected to finish exactly where they did a year ago, in third and fourth place,  respectively.  In fact, all nine teams were picked in the same spots they occupied in the final standings in 2015.  Rounding out the picks:  UNLV in fifth, Utah State sixth, Colorado State seventh, Nevada eighth, and Utah State ninth.

Slots four thru seven in the poll were separated by just seven points, and only one point separated three teams -- Utah State, Colorado State and Nevada.  Boise State was picked last on each coach's ballot, except for Broncos head coach Cindy Ball, who could not vote for her own team by rule.

This marks the second consecutive season Fresno State was picked to win the crown.  The Bulldogs are in search of their 22nd conference championship all-time, and nation-leading 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 35 years.  San Diego State is in search of a ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and its 12th overall.

In preseason national polls, Fresno State is ranked 31st in the ESPN/USA Softball preseason rankings with 8 votes, while San Diego State is 36th with 4 votes.  In the USA Today/NFCA coaches preseason Top 25, the Bulldogs find themselves 40th, with three votes.  Fresno State, the lone MW team to receive votes in the coaches poll, enters the season receiving votes in both polls for the first time since 2012.

Mountain West coaches preseason poll

1. Fresno State (8 first-place votes), 64 points
2. San Diego St. (1 first-place vote), 57 points
3. San Jose St., 49 points
4. New Mexico, 34 points
5. UNLV, 31 points
6. Utah State, 28 points
7. Colorado State, 27 points
8. Nevada, 26 points
9. Boise State, 8 points