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.