Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday storylines in the Mountain West

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

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

Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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