Saturday, February 16, 2013

Highs and lows on a mixed bag Saturday

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

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

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

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

Saturday's action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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