Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bulldogs, Rams, Aztecs win opening series

It was an eerily similar day to Friday as Mountain West softball action wrapped up for the week Saturday.  Colorado State run-ruled UNLV for the second day in a row, San Diego State broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning to beat New Mexico, and Fresno State had issues with errors.  The only difference:  The Bulldogs were able to come back this time and edge Nevada.

Colorado State and San Diego State moved atop the conference standings at 3-0.  Fresno State stayed a game behind at 2-1.  Nevada fell two games back at 1-2, while both UNLV and New Mexico remained winless (0-3) and in the cellar.

Fresno State 4, Nevada 3

Sophomore outfielder Michelle Solomon delivered the clutch hit Fresno State had been looking for, and the Bulldogs went on for the series-clinching win over the Wolf Pack in front of 1,138 fans at Bulldog Diamond.

Solomon hit a 2-out, 2-run single in the bottom of the second inning as Fresno State took its first lead and rallied from three runs down for the victory.  Her hit gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead as they came back from a 3-0 deficit in the game's early moments.  After that, it was all up to the Fresno State freshman pitchers, who denied Nevada again.

Jill Compton went the first three innings and allowed four hits, but no earned runs.  Nevada's three runs in the first came following another error by Bulldog shortstop Maria Sio, who struggled defensively in the series with errors in all three games, including a crucial one that cost Fresno State a possible win Friday.

Hannah Harris came on to pitch the final four frames for the Bulldogs and picked up the win, while running her streak to 17 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.  Harris has allowed just two earned runs in her last 25 innings. 

Karley Hopkins scored in the first on Sio's error, and Jasmine Jenkins doubled a pair home with two outs in the inning.  From that point on, Fresno State pitching shut down the Mountain West's top hitting team almost completely.  In the bottom of the first, the Bulldogs got two runs back when Whitney Smith hit a 2-out, 2-run single for one of the biggest hits of her freshman season.

In the second, Sio singled to lead things off, was sacrificed to second, and then moved to third on a bunt single by Brenna Moss, who had a pair of hits in the game.  Following a walk to load the bases and a second out, Solomon delivered what turned out to be the game-winning, 2-run single on a ball that found its way just between the shortstop and left fielder.

Nevada pitcher Karlyn Jones, who entered the weekend having won nine straight games and leading the Mountain West with 13 wins, lost her second straight to the Bulldogs.  She's now 13-6.  Nevada lost for only the third time in its last 14 games, while Fresno State won the season series between the two schools for a fifth straight year.

Colorado State 15, UNLV 7 (5 innings)

In a wild affair in Fort Collins, Colorado State run-ruled UNLV for a second day in a row and Rebels pitcher Amanda Oliveto struggled again.

Oliveto took to the circle for the eighth consecutive game for the Rebels, and Colorado State had little trouble again.  The Rebels junior pitcher entered the weekend second in the conference in wins (12) and with an impressive 2.15 ERA and three wins over Top 25-ranked foes.

After giving up 10 earned runs Friday in just two-thirds of an inning and struggling with location problems, it was more of the same Saturday.  Oliveto walked nine batters in 4 1/3 innings today, and allowed 15 runs (14 earned).

Despite the lopsided score, UNLV actually out-hit the Rams 10 to nine in the game, but Colorado State had a pair of triples and two home runs to break the game open.  Cassy Mosser and Chelsea Biglow both went deep, while Shae Rodriguez and pinch hitter Molly Randle both hit triples.

Rams ace Kacie McCarthy allowed six earned runs herself in five innings, but didn't walk a batter and struck out two.  The teams combined for five errors as UNLV's Stefany Valentino and CSU's Kendal Butterfield had two each.

San Diego State 1, New Mexico 0

The Aztecs broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning for the second straight day and swept the conference-opening series from the visiting Lobos.

Lauren Soles pitched well for UNM, but the Lobos stranded base runners all game long and could never come up with a clutch hit in being shut out for the second day in a row.

New Mexico stranded 10 base runners in the game and had six hits to the Aztecs' four.  Soles was throwing a 2-hitter into the sixth inning when SDSU rallied.  Lorena Bauer's clutch, 2-out single with runners at the corners was the difference in this one and helped the Aztecs sweep the series.

Rebecca Arbino earned the win in relief of freshman starter Danielle O'Toole.  New Mexico left the potential go-ahead run in scoring position in each of the first five innings in the game.

San Diego State, which was 12-12 on the season less than three weeks ago, won its 10th straight game, representing the longest winning streak in the Mountain West this season.  Today's run was the Aztecs' only earned run of the series after all nine previous runs scored against the Lobos were unearned.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Colorado State scores 18 runs in rout of UNLV

Colorado State scored a season-high 18 runs, while Nevada and San Diego State both won thanks to errors by Fresno State and New Mexico in Mountain West play Friday.

Colorado State 18, UNLV 10 (5 innings)

In a game Amanda Oliveto would like to forget, the junior allowed 10 earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning as the Rams rolled in Fort Collins.  Oliveto started the game and gave up six runs in the first inning and was pulled without recording the final out.  After CSU's offense got rolling, Oliveto re-entered in the fifth and allowed four consecutive bases-loaded walks as the run-rule went into effect.

Colorado State had to use three pitchers of its own, including Kacie McCarthy as UNLV rallied back from a 6-1 deficit to tie the game.

In a wild game with changing momentum, CSU's 6-1 lead in the first inning eventually became a 6-all tie in the fourth before the Rams rallied with five runs in the bottom of the frame.  Even an 11-6 lead wasn't safe for Colorado State though, as UNLV scored for the fifth straight inning by pushing four runs across in the top of the fifth to cut the margin to a run.

The Rams responded again with a 7-run bottom of the fifth as all five pitchers in the game ran into difficulty.  None of the five (Francesa Foti and Oliveto for UNLV, and starter Kailey Snyder, Holly Reinke and McCarthy of CSU) allowed fewer than three runs in a wild offensive display with 18 hits.

Cassy Mosser, Chelsea Biglow and Alysa Greckel all had three hits for the Rams.  Greckel had five RBI, while Biglow had four.  Despite the lopsided loss, the only three home runs in the game came off the Rebels' bats.  Stefany Valentino hit a pair to finish with four RBI, while Emily Haslinger had one.  Tayler Van Acker had three of UNLV's 11 hits.

Nevada 1, Fresno State 0

Fresno State gave this game away and Nevada gladly accepted.

The Bulldogs out-hit Nevada eight to three, but blew golden opportunities to score all game long, and the Wolf Pack took advantage of a game-changing error with two outs in the seventh inning.

Fresno State shortstop Maria Sio's miscue -- her team-leading 12th of the season -- came on a force play that would've sent the Bulldogs to the bottom of the seventh tied 0-0.  The Pack got just three hits -- all singles -- in the game against Fresno State freshman pitcher Hannah Harris, who lost the game but deserved a much better fate, especially against the Mountain West's top hitting team.

Harris took a no-hitter into the fifth and a 1-hitter into the seventh.  With one out in the seventh, Sara Parsons singled for Nevada's second hit of the game.  With two away, Jasmine Jenkins singled as Parsons advanced to second.  It was the first time Nevada had moved a runner into scoring position in the game.

Lauren Lastrapes then hit a bouncer to Sio, who threw a wild toss well wide of second base trying to get the easy force to end the inning, and Parsons scampered home for the game's only run.

Fresno State stranded 10 base runners in the game, including a staggering nine in scoring position.  The Bulldogs left runners in scoring position in every inning but the sixth and had hits in every inning but the sixth as well.  During one stretch, Fresno State left the go-ahead run stranded at third base in four consecutive innings.

The Bulldogs had a runner at second base with one out in the first inning, runners at second and third base with two outs in the second, runners at the corners with nobody out in the third, a runner at third base with two outs in the fourth, runners at second and third base with two outs in the fifth, and runners at first and second base with just one out in the seventh.  They failed to score every time.

Megan Dortch got the win for Nevada, maneuvering her way through eight hits, a walk and two Pack errors, and escaped jams all night long.  Harris lost for the first time in five starts, and has not allowed more than one run in any of those last five starts.  She has thrown 13 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

San Diego State 5, New Mexico 0

A game-changing error occurred late in this one as well as the Aztecs broke a scoreless tie with two outs in the sixth.

New Mexico's Jordyn Bledsoe committed her second error of the game -- and team-leading 13th of the season -- with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowing San Diego State to score the game's first two runs.

Kamerin May led off the sixth for SDSU with a single.  With one away, Patrice Jackson hit an infield single, and -- with two away -- a walk by UNM starter Kaela DeBroeck loaded the bases.  Pinch hitter Kayla Bufardeci then hit a grounder to Bledsoe, whose wild throw allowed the game-changing runs.  Pinch hitter Kaitlin Connors then delivered a crushing blow with a 3-run homer as all five runs in the frame were unearned.

Combined with last night's opener, all nine runs allowed by New Mexico in this series have been unearned.  Rebecca Arbino, who came on in relief of freshman starter Danielle O'Toole in the sixth, grabbed the win by throwing two hitless innings.  UNM had six hits against O'Toole and left the bases loaded in the fifth.

San Diego State had seven hits against DeBroeck, who took the loss.  Jackson, with two, was the only player with multiple hits for either team.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fresno State wins in Mountain West debut

Fresno State and Nevada both made their Mountain West softball debuts Thursday night, and things continued to be a lot like they used to be when the two were Western Athletic Conference members.  It was an exciting game with twists and turns, and the Bulldogs came out on top.

Elsewhere, San Diego State took an early lead against New Mexico and held on for the win, and Colorado State won a pitcher's duel with UNLV as conference play began for six of the seven Mountain West teams.

Fresno State 6, Nevada 4

The Bulldogs erupted for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 1-all tie, and then had to hold on to beat Nevada in front of 1,112 fans at Bulldog Diamond.  This one was a matchup of two of the conference's top pitchers, but it hardly turned out to be a pitcher's duel.  Nevada's Karlyn Jones, the winningest pitcher in the Mountain West who entered the game with a 13-4 record, didn't make it out of the fifth inning.  And Fresno State freshman standout Jill Compton, the reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Week, went the distance for the win but had to survive a very shaky final inning.

It started out like a pitcher's duel and Jones was on fire early, working quickly and catching the Bulldogs off balance.  Nevada took a 1-0 lead in the second when Jasmine Jenkins doubled to right-center, and Sara Parsons scored from first base.  Fresno State tied it 1-1 in the fourth on an RBI double by freshman Paige Gumz to score Stesha Brazil.  It was the next inning that would decide this one.

In the fifth, the Bulldogs pushed five runs across on five hits, including doubles from both Diane Runge and Michelle Solomon.  Vonnie Martin singled to lead off the inning and Nevada's Lauren Lastrapes committed a crucial, 2-base error with a wild throw down the line on Maria Sio's attempted sacrifice.  With one out, Brenna Moss singled to score Martin with the go-ahead run. Runge followed with her 2-run double, and Solomon added a run-scoring double one out later.  Gumz completed the scoring with an RBI single during an inning where Jones was replaced by Bailey Brewer.  It was just the second time in 14 starts this season that Jones did not pitch a complete game.

Fresno State blew a few chances to put the game away, including in the sixth inning when it left two runners in scoring position.  In the seventh, the Bulldogs almost paid the price as the Pack rallied for three runs and had the potential tying run on base.

Chelsea Barilli tripled to lead off the seventh and scored on a single by Karley Hopkins.  Megan Sweet then singled and Parsons walked with one out to load the bases for Nevada.  Out number two of the seventh involved a spectacular running, backhanded catch by Solomon in right-center that robbed Ashley Butera of a hit.  With Nevada down to its last strike, Jenkins hit a 2-run single as part of her three RBI night to cut the margin to 6-4.  Lastrapes hit into a force play at third base to end the game with the tying run aboard and Compton and the Bulldogs escaped.

Nevada entered the game having won 10 of its last 11 games overall and as the Mountain West's only 20-game winner.  Fresno State matched the Pack with an identical 20-14 record following the Bulldogs' win, but, more importantly, Trisha Ford's squad won its conference opening game.

Solomon, in addition to her potential game-saving catch in the seventh, had a pair of hits, including a double and an RBI for the Bulldogs as eight of nine Fresno State batters had hits.  Over three games this week, the Bulldog bats have come alive to the tune of 37 hits.  Gumz finished with two hits and two RBI, Runge had two hits, and Moss had a pair of stolen bases to give her 21 on the year in 22 attempts.

San Diego State 4, New Mexico 1

Rebecca Arbino had to survive some shaky innings when New Mexico loaded the bases, but the Aztecs improved to 1-0 with a win at home in a Mountain West opener.

All four San Diego State runs in the game were unearned and all came in the third inning when Patrice Jackson delivered the big blow of the game with a 3-run home run.

In that third inning, Kayla Jordan got things started for the Aztecs with a 1-out single.  After stealing second base, UNM freshman pitcher Lauren Soles, who's had a problem at times this season with illegal pitch calls, was called for another as Jordan advanced to third base.

Another walk and a steal later, Soles committed a crucial throwing error on a comebacker off the bat of Kamerin May, allowing the game's first run.  After getting San Diego State's leading hitter, Lorena Bauer, to hit a comebacker for out number two, Jackson belted a 3-run homer to left on a full-count pitch.

And that was the game, though UNM did try to rally against Arbino.  New Mexico left two runners on base in the opening inning and left the bases loaded in both the fourth and the sixth.  In all, the Lobos stranded 10 in the game as Arbino escaped multiple jams.

Courtney Geith's RBI single in the sixth, one of six New Mexico hits, accounted for the Lobos' only run.  Jackson had a 3-for-3 day to go with her 3-run homer for the Aztecs, and Jordan had two hits.  For UNM, Geith and Jordyn Bledsoe had two hits apiece.

Colorado State 2, UNLV 0

It turned out to be the exact game everyone expected in Fort Collins.

Amanda Oliveto was in the circle for the Rebels and Kacie McCarthy for the Rams, and a pitcher's duel
broke out.  In a quick game with little offense, Colorado State prevailed by scoring both of its runs with two outs in the first inning.  Oliveto retired the first two batters she faced in the game, but then issued a walk and hit a batter.  Both would come back to haunt her and UNLV.  Following the hit by pitch, CSU got consecutive 2-out, RBI singles from Emily Pohl and Alysa Greckel.  And that was the entire ball game.

No team seriously threatened after that point as McCarthy and Oliveto worked quick and efficiently.  McCarthy picked up her 12th win to tie Oliveto in that category and tossed a 2-hitter.  Oliveto allowed just two hits after the first inning, finishing with a 4-hitter and eight strikeouts.  Pohl was the only player in the game with two hits.

Conference play begins today for six MW teams

Everything starts for real now.

Six of the seven Mountain West softball teams open conference play today in the first game of a 3-game weekend series.  Throw records out the window because everyone begins with a fresh slate with one common goal in mind:  Winning the regular season Mountain West championship and the accompanying NCAA Tournament bid.

With the Mountain West not having a postseason softball tournament, every game from this moment forward counts a little more.  In fact, the best way to think of it may be this:  Every game during the Mountain West conference season should be treated like a postseason tournament game.  'Win and advance' should be the motto because a game played March 28 means just as much as a game played on the final day of the regular season, May 11.

Teams that get too far behind in the conference standings may not have enough time to catch up.  Conversely, teams that win early in the conference season have a leg up the rest of the way.  With only 18 conference games and six league series, the season from this point forward will go quickly.  Indeed, NCAA Selection Sunday is only six weeks away.

The three Mountain West series that kick off conference play are all intriguing in their own way.  None may set the tone more than Fresno State versus Nevada.  The two conference newcomers (and former WAC rivals) meet at Bulldog Diamond today through Saturday, and the series is the only one in the Mountain West this weekend to pit teams with winning overall records.

The Bulldogs are 71-11 in their last 82 conference home games -- all played as a WAC member.  Fresno State has been virtually unbeatable at home for decades, and this season is not much different.  The Bulldogs are 10-2 at Bulldog Diamond this year, and both losses came in games that were tied in the seventh inning.  Fresno State's two home defeats this year are an extra-inning loss to Southern Miss with the international tiebreak rule in effect, and a 1-0 loss to 5th-ranked Cal in a game where freshman Jill Compton threw a complete-game, 1-hitter against the Bears.

Nevada, which has had three consecutive losing seasons, is 20-13 and off to its best start to a season since the 2009 campaign.  The Wolf Pack enter Mountain West play having won 10 of their past 11 games.  Over the past four seasons, the Nevada-Fresno State series has ended each time with the Bulldogs winning two of three games.  The Pack's only series win (two games to one) over the Bulldogs in school history came in the 2008 season, ironically during a year where Fresno State ended up ranked in the Top 10 and was one of 16 regional No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

San Diego State opens Mountain West play by hosting New Mexico, a team the Aztecs have dominated over the years.  While San Diego State is maybe the most formidable opponent in the conference, the Lobos are probably playing the Aztecs at the best possible time.  SDSU has not played a game in 11 days and could be a bit rusty after such a lengthy layoff in the middle of a season.  Then again, probably not.  But you never know.  It seems that most teams would rather take their chances against an Aztecs team that hasn't played in awhile rather than one riding a hot streak.

The Aztecs have been to five straight NCAA Tournaments, are No. 42 in the RPI (best in the Mountain West), and have done nothing so far to signal that they're anything but the conference favorites they were predicted to be in the preseason.

An intriguing series begins in Fort Collins today between Colorado State and UNLV.  The Rams enter Mountain West play on a 7-game conference winning streak dating to last season.  This is a series that could be dominated by pitching with two of the premier pitchers facing off likely twice, if not in all three games.

Junior Amanda Oliveto of UNLV and senior Kacie McCarthy of Colorado State have been very strong this season.  Oliveto has three marquee wins to her credit, defeating nationally-ranked Louisville, Tulsa and Virginia Tech.  McCarthy, the 2012 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year, is coming off a recent streak where she threw 21 2/3 scoreless innings.  Oliveto (with 12) and McCarthy (11) rank second and third, respectively, in wins among MW pitchers.

Nevada (0-0, 20-13) at Fresno State (0-0, 19-14)

Thursday, 6 pm PDT (Gametracker)
Friday, 6 pm PDT
Saturday, 1 pm PDT

Outlook:  This series matches the Mountain West's top hitting team (Nevada with a .328 batting average) against the conference's No. 2 pitching staff (Fresno State with a 2.59 team ERA).  The Pack lead the league in numerous offensive categories and have six starters batting over .300.  In addition, junior right-hander Karlyn Jones (13-4) has been strong in the circle, leading the MW in wins and holding opponents to a .227 average.  The trouble for Nevada is that only one other pitcher has a winning record, and that is Ariel Craig, who's 1-0 and has only pitched in one game all year.  In Fresno State, the Pack will face a young Bulldog team that has played far better at home than on the road.  In 12 home games, the Bulldogs have held opponents to two or fewer runs in a game 9 different times.  All 19 Fresno State wins have come from freshman pitchers and, most importantly, each seems to be gaining steam.  High school All-American Hannah Harris has won four consecutive games and may be pitching better than anyone at the moment.  Harris has not allowed more than one run in any of her last four wins.  Jill Compton and Taylor Langdon have each won Mountain West Pitcher of the Week honors this season, and while Compton leads the team in wins, Langdon actually leads the conference in ERA (1.45).  Compton and Nevada's Jones have allowed a slew of home runs (30 combined), and Jones has been the more consistent of the two.  But Compton has proven that when she's "on," she is tough to beat, especially at home.  Speaking of which, Fresno State has been hard to put away for opponents, and the Bulldogs have come from behind to win several games and have three walk-off wins.  This promises to be an exciting opening series in front of what will be -- by far -- the biggest crowds in Mountain West softball this weekend.

New Mexico (0-0, 16-20) at San Diego St. (0-0, 19-12)

Thursday, 6 pm PDT (Gametracker)
Friday, 6 pm PDT
Saturday, 1 pm PDT

Outlook: San Diego State enters Mountain West play on a 7-game winning streak where it has outscored opponents by a whopping 54-15 margin.  Four of those victories came via shutout, but the Aztecs may need to guard against some rust.  They arrive well-rested, but haven't played a game in 11 days.  Both the Aztecs and Lobos have played strong schedules, especially San Diego State.  Nine of the Aztecs' 12 losses this season have come against nationally ranked schools, including four vs. 2012 Women's College World Series teams (Oklahoma, Cal, and two versus Oregon). Additionally, SDSU has played 16 teams who qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament. It's safe to say Coach Kathy Van Wyk's team is battle tested, and that's a large reason why they are the clear favorite to win the Mountain West title.  The one-two pitching punch of senior Rebecca Arbino and freshman Danielle O'Toole has been formidable and they account for all but one of San Diego State's wins.  O'Toole is 8-5 with a 1.86 ERA and 77 strikeouts, while Arbino is 10-7 with a 1.91 ERA and 104 strikeouts.  New Mexico's offense has struggled this season, especially after All-MW hitter Chelsea Anaya went down with a season-ending injury earlier this month.  The Lobos are hitting a conference-worst .237 and they rank last in home runs, RBI and runs scored.  Against Arbino and O'Toole, it's hard to see where the runs will come from this weekend.  This series matches the two teams who finished first (SDSU) and last (UNM) in the Mountain West a year ago.

UNLV (0-0, 14-18) at Colorado St. (0-0, 14-14)

Thursday, 4 pm MDT (Gametracker)
Friday, 4 pm MDT
Saturday, 1 pm MDT

Outlook:  This series is all about Amanda Oliveto (12-9, 2.14 ERA) and it may turn out to be that way for UNLV all season.  How Oliveto has gone is precisely how the Rebels have gone.  She has been dominant for sure and it's safe to say that there is no player in the Mountain West more valuable to her team than Oliveto.  Want proof?  No pitcher on the Rebels team other than Oliveto has more than one win, and no one has an ERA under 6.00.  She has been the pitcher of record in 10 of UNLV's last 13 games, including the last five in a row, and has pitched over 100 more innings than anyone else on the staff.  Making things more difficult is the fact the Rebels need strong pitching in order to win, because no one on the team is hitting over .300.  This series matches the Mountain West's only two teams with fewer than 200 hits on the season.  Colorado State has had strong pitching outings from Kacie McCarthy, but has struggled when she's not in the circle.  Just like UNLV, no other pitcher on the squad has a winning record.  In fact, CSU's Holly Reinke is the only Rams pitcher aside from McCarthy to even win one game.   Reinke is 3-4.  Can an entire Mountain West series have both teams start the same pitcher over three consecutive games?  If it's going to happen, it could in Fort Collins this weekend, though we're guessing Reinke gets the start on Friday for CSU.  Much was expected of the Rams this year with nearly the entire team returning from last season's 27-22 team that finished tied for second in the Mountain West.  Consistency has been an issue for both UNLV and Colorado State in the preseason, and it won't be a surprise to see some low-scoring games take place this weekend in Fort Collins.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Inside the RPI: Who have they beaten?

With Monday's release of the season's first Ratings Percentage Index, let's take a look inside the RPI at what really matters:  Good wins and bad losses.

It's all about who you've played and who you've beaten.  And for those teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations, it's also about avoiding bad losses.

Let's take a look at the Mountain West team by team, based on the current RPI.

San Diego State

RPI:  41
Best wins:  Notre Dame (39), Syracuse (47), Texas Tech (48)
Worst losses:  Stephen F. Austin (133), Virginia (99), Long Beach St. (77)

Analysis:  The Aztecs' RPI is based almost entirely on strength of schedule.  Of San Diego State's 31 games, 19 have been against the RPI top 100.  The Aztecs have avoided bad losses and have another chance at a marquee non-conference win at Cal State Fullerton on April 10.  The Titans are currently No. 32 in the RPI, despite a 15-17 overall record.  At this point, San Diego State's NCAA Tournament chances are good, but they hinge on finishing the season strong.  SDSU played an impressive seven games versus the RPI top 25, but went 0-7 in those contests.

New Mexico

RPI:  93
Best wins:  Oregon State (27), Auburn (65), Kansas (83)
Worst losses:  Yale (274), Hampton (203), A&M-Corpus Christi (198)

Analysis:  Based on the RPI, the Lobos have played a very uneven schedule.  New Mexico has faced a slew of top 25 powers, along with a lot of bad teams, and not too much in between.  The Lobos' loss to Yale is the worst (RPI-wise) among Mountain West teams, but the win over Oregon State is one of the better victories in the conference.  Despite being second-best in the Mountain West in current RPI, there is little in New Mexico's at-large NCAA profile to suggest it can earn a bid without winning the conference regular-season title.


RPI:  100
Best wins:  Louisville (10), Tulsa (22), Virginia Tech (24)
Worst losses:  Weber State (261), Bryant (212), Loyola Marymount (187)

Analysis:  The Rebels have the most impressive wins of any Mountain West team, picking up three victories over the RPI top 25.  Unfortunately the losses to Bryant and Weber State will continue to haunt the Rebels all season long, especially the one to the woeful Wildcats.  It's quite possible, if not likely, that UNLV would have an RPI closer to 75 if not for those two bad losses.  If any team in the Mountain West is going to make a big leap in the RPI, it appears to be the Rebels because of the quality wins.  If UNLV can go on a winning streak and get into the NCAA at-large conversation, they'll have victories in their pocket that could make them attractive on Selection Sunday.  The Rebels play a doubleheader at Cal State Fullerton on April 20, and two wins over the Titans (currently No. 32 in the RPI) would be huge.

Fresno State

RPI:  104
Best wins:  Pacific (64), Kansas (83), Cal Poly (92)
Worst losses:  San Diego (176), Idaho State (154), Sacramento St. (144)

Analysis:  This was all about scheduling. The Bulldogs didn't attend the Mary Nutter Classic (formerly Cathedral City Classic) for the first time in eight years and didn't go to the Judi Garman Classic for the first time in a generation.  Not playing marquee opponents in the two highest-profile tourneys in the country this season meant Fresno State needed a gaudy record to make some RPI noise.  It hasn't happened.  Games with high-profile opponents Oregon and Oregon State were rained out, further hurting the Bulldogs' RPI.  On the plus side, the Bulldogs are the only Mountain West team other than San Diego State to avoid losing to a sub-200 RPI team.  Fresno State has just three top 100 wins though, nowhere near enough to be considered for an NCAA at-large bid.  Playing 14 non-conference games against teams outside the top 150 hurt this team significantly.  This will be the first time in school history a Bulldog softball team heads into conference play knowing it must win a regular-season crown in order to reach the NCAA Tournament for the 31st time in 32 years.


RPI:  105
Best wins:  Hawaii (20), Pacific (64), Utah (72)
Worst losses:  Southern Utah (242), Idaho State (154), Sacramento St. (144)

Analysis:  Nevada and Fresno State are next to each other in the RPI and played very similar schedules.  Both beat top 100 teams Pacific and Cal Poly.  Both list defeats to Idaho State and Sacramento State as some of their worst.  The Wolf Pack have the significantly better win -- a victory over Hawaii in week two of the season.  But Nevada has worse losses, including three to Idaho State, which has really hampered the RPI.  While the Wolf Pack head into conference play with a Mountain West-best 20 wins, there aren't enough quality victories to be considered for an at-large NCAA bid.  Only 11 of Nevada's 33 non-conference games have been played against teams currently ranked in the RPI top 100.  In order to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years, the Wolf Pack will have to win the regular-season Mountain West title.

Boise State

RPI:  124
Best wins:  Texas Tech (48), Northwestern (61), UTSA (109)
Worst losses:  Utah State (241), Missouri State (185) Idaho State (154)

Analysis:  Nearly half of Boise State's losses (8 of 17) have come against teams ranked outside the RPI top 100.  That's a problem, and it's the main reason the Broncos have taken the steepest RPI fall in the last year among Mountain West teams.  The Broncos did manage a 6-6 tie with No. 22 Tulsa last weekend, going 0-1-1 in their two games with the Golden Hurricane.  Boise State has just two wins over the top 100, fewest among Mountain West teams.  With a lack of quality wins, the Broncos are yet another team that must win the regular-season conference title in order to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Colorado State

RPI:  128
Best wins:  Texas Tech (48), Long Beach St. (77), New Mexico St. (91)
Worst losses:  Miami-OH (246), Harvard (245), Loyola Marymount (187)

Analysis:  One loss to a sub-200 RPI team could be forgiven.  But two losses to teams 245 or worse in the RPI have doomed the Rams, and it's the main reason CSU ranks last in the Mountain West.  Also a mystery:  How Texas Tech remains 48th in the RPI having lost to four different teams in this conference, including the two with the worst RPIs.  It makes no sense, and there are always flukes like that.  Colorado State narrowly missed a chance at a much better RPI, losing three tight games to top 50 teams Georgia, Arkansas and Nebraska-Omaha.  The Rams blew a late lead in a 1-run loss to the Bulldogs, and lost in extra innings by one run to both the Razorbacks and UNO.

Boise State picks up 2 wins at Southern Utah

Boise State swept a doubleheader Tuesday at Southern Utah 5-3 and 12-1 in five innings.  The Broncos scored four unearned runs in the fourth inning of game one -- all on home runs -- when Lela Work hit a 3-run shot and Ashley Palmer added a solo homer. In the nightcap, Tara Glover got hits in each of the first four innings and freshman Makenna Weird hit her third home run of the season in the run-rule rout.  Rose Saenz got her first career extra-base hit -- a double.  Boise State (RPI 124) improved to 16-17-1 on the year.  Southern Utah (RPI 242) fell to 7-22 overall.

Monday, March 25, 2013

First RPI of the season is a mixed bag

The first Ratings Percentage Index numbers are out for 2013 and it's a decidedly mixed bag of news for Mountain West softball teams.

Let's start with the good news, which comes for San Diego State.  The Aztecs were the clear winner in this RPI release, leading the way among Mountain West teams at No. 41.  Ironically, SDSU is exactly where it ended last season.  San Diego State was 32-24 overall last year and also ended the season 41st in the RPI.

While not an NCAA Tournament lock by any means, Coach Kathy Van Wyk's squad is within striking distance of an at-large bid should it be necessary.  Of course the Aztecs need to guard against a letdown of any sort in conference play, which begins Thursday.

San Diego State's high ranking is due to an impressive non-conference schedule, rather than a ton of great wins.  The Aztecs don't have a victory over an RPI top 25 team, which could be cause for concern down the road if they don't win the Mountain West title.

One big issue San Diego State will face is the lack of any other team in the conference being remotely close to it in the RPI.  Last year, Boise State was 57th in the final rankings.  This time around, no Mountain West team other than the Aztecs is ranked in the top 90.  That's a problem.

The second-best RPI in the conference belongs to New Mexico at No. 93.  Despite the fact the Lobos have a losing record (16-20), they are actually ranked seven spots higher this season than where they finished in 2012 when they went 27-25 overall.  New Mexico was 100th last season.

UNLV currently stands at exactly No. 100.  The Rebels, who finished 106th a season ago, lead the MW in impressive wins.  UNLV has three wins over the current RPI top 25 (Louisville, Tulsa and Virginia Tech).  The problem is the Rebels also have losses to the likes of No. 261 Weber State and No. 212 Bryant.

Coming in at No. 104 is Fresno State, and that ranking is historically stunning for a program that has reached 30 NCAA Tournaments in the last 31 years.  Last season, the Bulldogs missed out on an NCAA at-large bid for the first time in school history when their RPI was No. 60.  Until today, Fresno State had never been ranked outside the top 100 since the NCAA began utilizing the RPI.

The Bulldogs, for the first time since the RPI's inception, do not have a non-conference win over a top 50 team.  The highest-ranked team Fresno State has beaten this season is Pacific at No. 64.  Coach Trisha Ford's squad enters Mountain West play this week basically knowing it must win the conference regular-season title in order to reach the NCAA Tournament.

One spot behind the Bulldogs are the Wolf Pack of Nevada at No. 105.  Nevada was No. 142 in the final RPI a season ago, so a jump of 37 spots is a big improvement.  Despite being the only Mountain West team currently with 20 wins (including a top 25 RPI win over Hawaii), the Pack -- like everyone else not named San Diego State -- is not close to NCAA at-large consideration yet.

The biggest fall from last year belongs to Boise State.  The Broncos, as mentioned previously, finished 57th in the RPI in 2012.  In the initial RPI this season, Boise State is 124th.  The fall of 67 spots is a steep one, and while BSU was a bubble team in 2012, it will take a great deal of work to approach the NCAA bubble this year.

Maybe the most disappointing team RPI-wise is Colorado State, last in the Mountain West at No. 128.  The Rams were 101st last season, and were predicted to finish second in the conference this year in a preseason vote of Mountain West coaches.  With almost their entire roster returning this year, including conference Pitcher of the Year Kacie McCarthy, it's surprising to see CSU last among Mountain West teams in the RPI heading into league play this week.

The good news for everyone:  There is still time left to improve in the RPI, which has become perhaps the most vital tool used for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament.  The easiest way -- and the only sure way -- to get an NCAA bid is by winning the round-robin, regular-season championship in the Mountain West.  Conference play starts Thursday for everyone but Boise State.

Fresno State pounds out 26 hits at Cal Poly

In the only action involving a Mountain West softball team Monday, Fresno State traveled to Cal Poly and split a doubleheader with the Mustangs.  The Bulldogs won the nightcap 6-1 in nine innings when the offense exploded for 16 hits, including seven in the ninth inning alone.  It came after Cal Poly came from behind late to defeat the Bulldogs in the opener 6-5.  In game two, freshman Hannah Harris pitched all nine innings and allowed just one single to the Mustangs over the game's final six innings.  Harris improved to 5-3 with her 5-hitter.  Kapri Angotti, Diane Runge and Michelle Solomon all had three hits for Fresno State in the nightcap as the Bulldogs had a season-high 16 in the game. In the ninth inning, they sent 11 to the plate and, during one stretch, seven of eight batters had hits. For the doubleheader, Angotti had five hits, Vonnie Martin and Solomon had four, Paige Gumz and Brenna Moss three, and Stesha Brazil had four RBI.  In the opener, Martin led the Bulldogs offensively with three hits, but couldn't come up with a hit with the game on the line in the seventh.  After Gumz and Whitney Smith both singled with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to keep Fresno State's hopes alive in the first game, Martin (who had been 3-for-3 until that point) hit into a force play to end it and give the Mustangs the 1-run win.  Pitcher Jill Compton twice couldn't hold leads against a Cal Poly team that came into Monday's doubleheader 11-19-1 overall.  The Bulldogs scored three runs in the third inning of the opener to take a 3-1 lead when Gumz and Brazil hit sacrifice flies, and Solomon hit an RBI double.  After Cal Poly tied it in the fourth, Fresno State went back ahead in the top of the sixth.  Smith walked, and the Bulldogs got three straight hits -- from Martin, pinch hitter Kelly Megee and Angotti -- and Smith scored, while Martin was thrown out at home.  Taking a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, Compton gave up an RBI single and a 2-run home run as the Mustangs went in front 6-4.  The Bulldogs scored a run in the seventh to make it close.  Fresno State out-hit Cal Poly 26-14 in the doubleheader and the Bulldogs improved to 19-14 overall, and now lead the all-time series between the schools 38-11. The losing pitcher in the nightcap was Cal Poly's Jordan Yates.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lobos, Wolf Pack win twice; Broncos go 0-1-1

It was another light day of action with just three Mountain West softball teams taking the field Sunday.  Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico each played a pair of games.

Tulsa 5, Boise State 2 -- In Las Vegas, the Golden Hurricane jumped on the Broncos early and then had to hold on during a wild seventh inning.  Four batters into the game, Tulsa was already on top 4-0 against eventual losing pitcher Lela Work.  A pair of singles by TU began the game before Samantha Cobb belted a 3-run home run for a quick early lead.  Pitcher Lacey Middlebrooks followed with a second straight home run against Work and it was 4-0 before Boise State had recorded an out.  The Broncos got a run back in the third when Middlebrooks walked Mackenzie Whyte with the bases loaded, but Tulsa responded again.  Cobb, who finished with four RBI, hit a run-scoring double in the fifth to increase the lead to 5-1.  It remained that way until the bottom of the seventh when Boise State tried to rally.  The Broncos got 4-pitch walks to both Devon Bridges and Ashley Palmer, a single by freshman Makenna Weir and an RBI double from Whyte, pushing Tulsa to the limit in the seventh.  Boise State eventually loaded the bases with one out, bringing the potential game-winning run to the plate.  Middlebrooks struck out freshman Kayla Clausen for out number two, and induced Jordan Kreiger to ground into a force out on a 2-0 pitch to end the game. 

New Mexico 13, Siena 5 (5 innings) -- The Lobos found the perfect remedy for their offensive woes of late, routing the Saints in Albuquerque.  After spotting Siena a 5-0 lead after one and a half innings, New Mexico responded with 13 unanswered runs to set a new season-high in that category.  The Lobos had 14 hits -- 13 of them singles -- and scored in every inning from the second through the bottom of the fifth when the run-rule was invoked.  An 8-run second proved to be Siena's undoing.  UNM got a 3-hit, 4 RBI performance from Naomi Tellez, a 4-for-4 game from Jordan Sjostrand, two hits and three RBI from Mia Hignojos, and a pair of hits from Cassandra Kalapsa, who reached base in all four at-bats.  UNM starter Lisa Rodrigues lasted just 1 1/3 innings, but reliver Kaela DeBroeck got the win, allowing only one hit in 3 2/3 innings.  New Mexico had scored more than five runs in a game just once in its last 19 games before meeting the Saints of the MAAC.  Siena allowed 25 runs in its first two games of the weekend.

New Mexico 5, Siena 2 -- The Lobos beat the Saints in game two as they rallied for a pair of runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.  Siena held a 2-1 lead entering the sixth, but UNM got a pair of 2-out hits in each of the last two innings for the victory.  Freshman pitcher Lauren Soles allowed four hits to get the complete-game win.  Siena has lost 11 of 16 games this year while UNM, which entered the day having lost eight of its past nine, moved to 16-20.  Hignojos and Courtney Geith had two hits apiece for the Lobos.

Boise State and Tulsa tie 6-6 -- The Broncos and Golden Hurricane finished in a 6-6 tie when a drop-dead time of 2 pm PDT was reached in the bottom of the eighth inning.  Boise State sent Rebecca Patton to the circle against TU's No. 3 pitcher, freshman Caitlin Sill (2-4-1), who lost Saturday's game against UNLV.  The Broncos wasted no time jumping to a 3-run lead in the first when Whyte hit a 2-out, RBI double, and Lela Work then added a 2-run single.  Tulsa responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first, but the Broncos went back on top with two runs in the second on Holly Bourke's 2-run, 2-out home run.  The Golden Hurricane answered back again an inning later with a 2-run home run of their own to tie it and that's how the game remained until the seventh.  Boise State took a 6-5 lead in the top of the frame when Bourke launched another homer, this one a 2-out, solo shot.  Patton was unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the frame as Tulsa tied it, but she did an outstanding job of keeping the game tied.  After allowing three singles and a fielder's choice along with a Broncos error, Tulsa had the score tied and the bases loaded with no outs.  A foul out and consecutive strikeouts maintained the tie and sent the game to extras with the international tie break in effect.  Boise State took a 7-6 lead in the top of the eighth and Tulsa was at bat and threatening when the game was called in the bottom of the inning. A fourth Broncos error gave TU runners at the corners with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth when the drop-dead rule was invoked.  It wiped out all eighth inning stats and the score reverted to the last completed inning, the seventh. 

Nevada 6, Idaho State 5 -- The Wolf Pack came up with a big fifth inning rally in Reno to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to the Bengals this season.  Idaho State was up 5-1 entering the fifth inning before the Pack rallied.  Nevada got an RBI double by Megan Sweet with one away, but then got two huge hits with two outs in the frame as Sara Parsons and Jasmine Jenkins both smacked 2-run home runs to give the Pack their first lead.  Karlyn Jones allowed five earned runs and three home runs, but got the complete-game win against a Bengals team that had already won a surprising three games versus Nevada this season.

Nevada 10, Santa Clara 2 (6 innings) -- In Reno, the Wolf Pack handed the Broncos their 10th run-rule loss of the season.  Parsons went deep for the second straight game Sunday, while Karley Hopkins and Megan Fincher also hit home runs in the rout against a Santa Clara team that fell to 0-14 away from home and 3-24 overall.  Hopkins had three hits to lead the Wolf Pack, who became the first Mountain West team to reach 20 wins this season at 20-13 overall.  Megan Dortch scattered seven hits in the victory, Nevada's 10th in its last 11 games.  Santa Clara is now 1-15 in its last 16 games and has been outscored a staggering 179 to 37 this season.  In their current 6-game losing streak, the Broncos have been outscored 49-8.  Five of Nevada's last eight victories have been run-rule wins.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

MW has 8 wins over the Big 12 after Saturday

After the lightest Friday of the season in Mountain West softball, we now have the fewest games played on a Saturday this year.

Only three of the seven Mountain West teams were in action Saturday after the Colorado State Spring Tournament was snowed out for the second consecutive day and New Mexico's home game versus Siena was canceled by wind.  Boise State played a pair in Las Vegas against Texas Tech, while Nevada hosted two games in Reno.  UNLV played a single home game versus Tulsa, while Fresno State and San Diego State continue to have the weekend off.

Texas Tech 3, Boise State 2 -- The Broncos' defense faltered late as the Red Raiders scored three unearned runs and came from behind for a win in Las Vegas.  Boise State took a 1-0 lead in the first when Tara Glover led off with a double and scored on a clutch, 2-out single by freshman Makenna Weir.  Glover and Weir were instrumental in giving Boise State a 2-0 lead in the third inning as well.  Glover led off with a single and ultimately scored on a Weir groundout with the bases loaded.  Unfortunately, Glover's error in center field to begin the fifth inning ended up paving the way for a Tech unearned run to cut the margin to 2-1.  An inning later, a key 2-out error by first baseman Devon Bridges prolonged the frame and the Red Raiders ended up tying the game on an RBI single, and taking their first and only lead on a Lela Work wild pitch.  Work was the tough-luck loser, allowing only four hits and no earned runs in a complete-game effort.

Boise State 4, Texas Tech 2 -- In game two, the Broncos were two outs away from a loss when Bridges came up big.  With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Boise State trailed 2-1 and had no runners on base.  Glover singled and Holly Bourke walked before Bridges hit a dramatic, 3-run home run to left to give Boise State its first and only lead of the contest.  Glover and Mackenzie Whyte had three hits apiece as part of the Broncos' 10-hit attack.  Bridges finished with two hits and all four RBI.  Rebecca Patton scattered six hits, struck out four and walked five to earn the complete-game victory.  Boise State became the fourth different Mountain West team to beat the Red Raiders (26-12) this season, and now fully one-third of Texas Tech's 12 losses have come versus the Mountain West. It was the eighth win by the MW over Big 12 Conference opponents in 2013.

UNLV 10, Tulsa 6 -- In a complete reversal from Tulsa's 13-1 rout of UNLV on Friday, the Rebels had 11 hits in a win over the Golden Hurricane in Las Vegas.  UNLV's win snapped a 12-game winning streak for 18th-ranked Tulsa and provided the Rebels with a Mountain West-best third win over a ranked foe.  Tulsa may have gotten a bit cocky after Friday's win, choosing not to start either of its top two pitchers.  Instead of going with junior Aimee Creger (13-1, 0.84 ERA) or senior Lacey Middlebrooks (10-2, 1.27 ERA), the Golden Hurricane sent freshman Caitlin Sill (2-3, 5.43 ERA) to the circle for her fifth collegiate start.  It didn't work well against a Rebels team led by junior pitcher Amanda Oliveto (12-9). After four innings, Sill was gone and had allowed seven hits and five runs -- all earned -- as TU got down 5-1.  UNLV had four hits in the first inning alone and Pauline Monreal blasted a 3-run home run in the third. Tulsa tried to climb back into it, scoring three times in the fifth and twice in the sixth, but the Rebels matched that both times, scoring three in the fifth and two in the sixth.  Oliveto escaped a seventh inning jam when Tulsa left the bases loaded and brought the tying run to the plate.  Monreal had four RBI, and Tayler Aleman three hits as UNLV added TU to a list of impressive non-conference wins that already includes Louisville and Virginia Tech.

Nevada 10, Santa Clara 0 (5 innings) -- Karlyn Jones allowed only two hits as the Wolf Pack sent hapless Santa Clara (3-22) to a 13th loss in its last 14 games.  This one was no contest as five different Nevada players had two hits and the Pack hit six doubles to go along with a home run from Megan Fincher.  Sara Parsons, Chelsea Barilli, Jasmine Jenkins, Lauren Lastrapes and Megan Sweet all had a pair of hits.  Jones struck out three and didn't walk a batter, and Nevada put up a 7-run fourth inning to blow the game wide open.  Santa Clara has lost 24 of its past 27 games spanning two years. It was Nevada's eighth straight win.

Idaho State 6, Nevada 4 -- In Reno, the Bengals continued to cast a spell over the Wolf Pack, picking up their third straight win this season over Nevada.  Idaho State (11-14), which defeated the Pack in two different tournaments last month, turned the trick again Saturday, snapping Nevada's 8-game winning streak and handing the Pack their first home loss of the year.  Kelsi Ott (3-3) went the distance for the victory for Idaho State, which had 10 hits against Megan Dortch (4-7), who threw a complete game but took the loss.  The Bengals built a 6-0 lead and then had to hang on in the sixth when Nevada scored all four of its runs.  The Pack had four hits -- including doubles by Ashley Butera, Lauren Lastrapes and Megan Sweet -- in the sixth inning, but couldn't get closer.  Of Nevada's six hits in the game, five were doubles and Butera hit a pair.  Four Idaho State players had multi-hit games, and the Bengals hit a home run and turned a pair of double plays in the win.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday brings shutouts, blowouts and snow outs

It turned out to be the lightest Friday of the season in Mountain West softball after Colorado State's Spring Tournament was snowed out.

The Rams were unable to get either of their two scheduled games in on Friday as heavy snow began to fall.  It was probably a good thing for Colorado State because the Rams trailed Ball State 6-0 in the top of the third inning and the Cardinals had the bases loaded with only one out when the game was called.

It's unknown how much of the remainder of the tourney will be played, since more snow and below freezing temperatures are expected Saturday.  The expected wind chill could be between 12 and 15 degrees on Saturday with highs not expected to reach above the 20s.  Weather permitting, the teams will resume where they left off at 11:15 a.m. MDT tomorrow.

New Mexico and UNLV ended up being the only Mountain West teams to complete games on Friday and went a combined 1-3.

Oklahoma State 11, New Mexico 0 (5 innings) -- In Albuquerque, Kat Espinosa threw a 1-hitter as the Cowgirls blasted the Lobos.  Oklahoma State scored five times in the first inning against starting and eventual losing pitcher Kaela DeBroeck and hit back to back home runs in the frame.  OSU had 14 hits in five innings, and Samantha Chrisman had four of them.  Chrisman hit a home run, double and two singles to finish with six RBI.  New Mexico's first and only hit of the game came on an infield single by Kaity Ingram in the fourth.

Oklahoma State 6, New Mexico 1 -- In game two of their doubleheader, the Lobos were held to three hits by Cowgirls pitcher Simone Freeman.  Oklahoma State scored in each of the first four innings to open up a 6-run lead against UNM freshman pitcher Lauren Soles, who threw a complete-game but took the loss.  Soles allowed 12 hits and five earned runs.  UNM scored an unearned run in the sixth.

Tulsa 13, UNLV 1 (5 innings) -- In Las Vegas, the red-hot Golden Hurricane routed the Rebels in a run-rule affair.  Tulsa scored five times in the third and added an 8-run fourth inning as UNLV committed four errors.  Starter Amanda Oliveto, in her first game since throwing a no-hitter over UMass, went 3+ innings and gave up five hits and five earned runs to pick up the loss.  Oliveto gave up all five earned runs and walked three in the third inning, and was pulled.  Reliever Francesca Foti entered in the fourth, which turned into a nightmare for the Rebels. Foti issued three walks, committed one of three UNLV errors in the inning, hit a batter and allowed two hits, including a bases-loaded triple as Tulsa scored eight additional runs to go up 13-0.  The Rebels scored an unearned run in the fifth after a Golden Hurricane error. UNLV finished with two hits in the game, which marked Tulsa's 12th consecutive win (and second of the day after it defeated Texas Tech earlier).

UNLV 5, Texas Tech 3 -- Playing at home, the Rebels became the third Mountain West team to beat the Red Raiders this season and the second in six days.  Oliveto (11-9) got her second start of the day, and scattered eight hits and overcame nine walks to grab the win.  This was a game where the Red Raiders had tons of chances but could never capitalize.  Oliveto struck out nine, but the nine walks almost came back to haunt her team in an up and down performance.  Ultimately, she escaped jams in every inning as Texas Tech stranded 15 base runners and left the bases loaded in the first, third and seventh innings.   Tayler Aleman and Alyssa Cordova had 2-out RBI hits in the first as the Rebels took a 2-0 lead.  An inning later, Stefany Valentino added another 2-out RBI for a 3-run cushion.  A sacrifice fly and wild pitch scored the Rebels' final two runs, and Aleman and Valentino both finished with two hits.  UNLV committed a pair of errors that led to two Texas Tech runs, and Tech scored a third on a bases-loaded walk by Oliveto.  The Rebels finished with seven hits, while the Red Raiders, losers of three of their last four, had eight.  UNLV joined Colorado State and San Diego State as winners against the Red Raiders this year, and Boise State gets the chance to be the fourth Mountain West team to beat Texas Tech when the two play twice Saturday.

Weekend preview: Teams ready for MW play

This is the final tune-up weekend before Mountain West Conference play begins in six days, and teams are preparing in vastly different ways.

UNLV and Boise State are in Las Vegas as part of a quality field in the Rebel Classic, which features Texas Tech and nationally-ranked Tulsa.  New Mexico hosts a 3-team mini invitational that includes Oklahoma State.  Nevada eases into the conference season with a second straight home tournament against a light, 3-team field, and Colorado State hosts a tourney against three teams from the East, each of whom has played its entire season so far on the road.

San Diego State and Fresno State are taking the weekend off.  The Aztecs are currently in the middle of an odd, 11-day layoff and won't play again until MW action begins on Thursday.  Fresno State is coming off a win two nights ago against Pacific, and will play a Monday doubleheader at Cal Poly before starting conference play Thursday.

Nevada (17-12)

Santa Clara (3-20), Saturday, 12:30 pm PDT
Idaho State (9-14), Saturday, 3 pm PDT
Idaho State, Sunday, 12:30 pm PDT
Santa Clara, Sunday, 3 pm PDT

Outlook:  The Wolf Pack will look to bounce back from two surprising losses to Idaho State earlier this season. The Bengals are 9-14 on the year and defeated Nevada at two different neutral-site tournaments in February.  Here's guessing it doesn't happen a third time ... not in Reno, and not against a Nevada team that has won seven straight games, though not exactly against a murderer's row of competition.  Santa Clara continues to be one of the worst teams in the nation year and year, and this one is no different.  The Broncos are 3-20 and have lost 11 of their past 12.  What does it say about this field when one of Santa Clara's three wins this season came over Idaho State back on February 24?  The Pack could face Broncos pitcher Carissa Theis, someone they defeated in the 2010 season when Theis pitched for former WAC rival New Mexico State. Nevada should enter Mountain West play on an 11-game winning streak.

Colorado State (14-14)

Ball State (13-10), Friday, 1:30 pm MDT
Columbia (8-9), Friday, 3:45 pm MDT
Columbia, Saturday, 1:30 pm MDT
Ball State, Sunday, 11:15 am MDT

Outlook:  The Rams defeated Marist 17-0 Thursday in the opening game of the Colorado State Spring Tournament, which was originally supposed to get underway today.  With possible snow in the forecast for this weekend, CSU made a Thursday morning decision to face Marist Thursday afternoon.  With 124 people in attendance, the Rams sent the reeling Red Foxes to their eighth straight loss.  Ball State and Columbia will be the opponents the next two days, and Colorado State could be looking at a 5-0 weekend and an 18-14 record when it enters Mountain West play at home next week versus UNLV.  The Cardinals provide the biggest test and they helped knock North Carolina from the national rankings this week, beating UNC at the Louisville tourney where the Tar Heels went 1-3.  Since March 1, no Rams pitcher aside from Kacie McCarthy has won a game, but she has won six to improve to 11-6 on the season. 

Boise State (13-15)

Texas Tech (25-9), Saturday, 9 am PDT
Texas Tech, Saturday, 11:15 am PDT
Tulsa (23-5), Sunday, 9 am PDT
Tulsa, Sunday, 11:15 am PDT

Outlook:  Texas Tech was shut out by San Diego State last weekend and has lost to Colorado State this season as well.  The Red Raiders built what appears to be an impressive 25-9 record, but once you delve into who they've played, the cracks appear.  This is clearly a team that built a gaudy record against weak competition, and is nowhere near as good as its record would suggest.  Texas Tech has lost to the likes of Jackson State, McNeese State, IPFW and Sam Houston State, among others.  The Red Raiders have five wins (yes, five) over Missouri-Kansas City, and they are a program that relies heavily on their Big 12 affiliation to get them into the NCAA Tournament each season.  Boise State can, and probably should, defeat Texas Tech at least once this weekend. Tulsa is another story.  The Golden Hurricane are the real deal.  In fact, if they were wearing jerseys labeled Oklahoma State or Texas Tech instead of Tulsa across the front, this would be a Top 10-ranked team. Instead, TU shows up as the nation's No. 18 team and probably under ranked.  Tulsa has played a rigorous schedule that includes two road wins at Florida State, a win over Texas in Austin, and victories over Hofstra, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Purdue and North Carolina.  The Golden Hurricane has won 10 straight and 18 of its past 20 games, with both losses during that stretch coming in extra innings.  A win by Boise State over Tulsa would rank as one of the Mountain West's signature non-conference wins this season.  The fact BSU gets to face them twice in one day only helps the Broncos' chances.

New Mexico (14-18)

Oklahoma State (19-13), Friday, 4 pm MDT
Oklahoma State, Friday, 6 pm MDT
Siena (5-8), Saturday, 2 pm MDT
Siena, Sunday, 11 am MDT

Outlook:  The Lobos this month joined Fresno State and San Diego State as Mountain West teams who have seen their star players go down with season-ending injuries.  The Aztecs lost outstanding All-American Hayley Miles just before the season began, and the Bulldogs lost All-WAC second baseman Brooke Ortiz -- their leading hitter at .361 -- in February.  New Mexico's Chelsea Anaya, an all-conference pick and the No. 2 hitter (.367) on the Lobos squad, is now added to that list after breaking her collarbone in a game against Yale in Seattle less than two weeks ago.  Oklahoma State arrives with a big name, but is a far cry from the team that reached the Women's College World Series two seasons ago.  The Cowgirls lost at home Wednesday to North Texas, and have lost games this season to traditional lightweights Seattle and Utah Valley.  OSU lost seven straight games earlier this season against its strongest opponents and then won 12 in a row against weak competition (three games vs. Santa Clara? really?).  New Mexico -- at home, especially -- should win at least once against the Cowgirls this weekend, if not twice.  The Lobos should be looking at a pair of run-rule wins over a bad Siena team, which has given up nine or more runs in losses to Central Connecticut State, East Tennessee State and Maryland-Eastern Shore.  The latter team -- Maryland-Eastern Shore -- went 0-34 last season and finished last in the nation (289th of 289 teams) in the RPI, yet still managed to crush Siena 11-4.

UNLV (12-17)

Tulsa (23-5), Friday, 4:15 pm PDT
Texas Tech (25-9), Friday, 6:30 pm PDT
Tulsa, Saturday, 1:30 pm PDT

Outlook:  The Rebels, like Boise State, will face Tulsa and Texas Tech this weekend.  How Amanda Oliveto goes is how UNLV will go this weekend.  Oliveto's strong junior season continued last week as she tossed the fourth no-hitter of her career in a win over UMass.  She has defeated both Louisville and Virginia Tech this season, and lost a chance at another monster win when UCLA came from behind in the seventh to defeat the Rebels two weeks ago in Long Beach.  It will be interesting to see how many games Oliveto will pitch this weekend.  The temptation could be to send her to the circle in all three, and that just may turn out to be the case.  While the junior has 10 victories this season, no other pitcher on the squad has more than one.  Texas Tech handed Oliveto a loss on the season's opening weekend, also in Las Vegas.  By Saturday, UNLV will have played 18 home games, more than any team in the Mountain West thus far this season.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fresno State frosh Compton shuts out Pacific

Fresno State rode the arm of freshman Jill Compton and the bat of senior Diane Runge to a 1-0 win over Pacific in Wednesday's only game involving a Mountain West softball team.

Compton, making her first home start since March 9 when she took a no-hitter into the seventh inning vs. the Cal Bears, was at the top of her game again.  She allowed just three hits to the Tigers in a complete-game victory, the eighth of her freshman campaign.  It was Compton's 11th complete game and second shutout.

The Bulldogs got the only run they would need in the bottom of the third inning against Pacific junior pitcher Tori Shepard.  Kapri Angotti singled to lead off the frame and was sacrificed to second by Brenna Moss.  With one away, Runge hit an RBI single for one of two hits she had to lead the Bulldogs in the game.

Compton faced a serious threat just once and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning.  In the fourth, senior Amy Moore singled with one out, and moved to third on a double by Pacific's senior All-American Nikki Armagost.  That hit by Armagost, the reigning 2-time Player of the Year in the Big West Conference, represented the Tigers' lone extra-base hit.  A foul out and a swinging strikeout by Compton ended the threat.

After allowing a leadoff single to begin the top of the fifth, Compton didn't allow a hit the rest of the way.  The Bulldogs had five hits against Shepard and left the bases loaded in the fourth when Paige Gumz and Vonnie Martin singled, and Maria Sio walked.

Fresno State improved to 18-13 overall with the victory.  Pacific, which has played nine games already versus nationally-ranked opponents in a brutal schedule, fell to 15-16 on the season.  Wednesday marked the 15th consecutive game Pacific has played against an opponent with a winning record.  The Bulldogs now lead the all-time series with the Tigers 79-22-1. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rams win, Lobos lose as MW goes 1-1 Tuesday

The last Mountain West team of the season to play Long Beach State became the only one in the conference to defeat the 49ers.  In a non-conference game in Long Beach, Colorado State was held to only two hits, but bunched both together in the sixth inning to come from behind and beat the 49ers 2-1.  Long Beach State had been 6-0 versus the Mountain West this season, defeating all six other teams in the conference earlier this season.  This time, Colorado State sent 2012 MW Pitcher of the Year Kacie McCarthy to the circle while the 49ers chose to go with sophomore Amanda Hansen and JC transfer Christian Carbajal rather than ace Erin Jones-Wesley in the mid-week game.  Long Beach State took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on an RBI double by Sarah Carrasco.  Despite still having a no-hitter intact in the sixth inning, Hansen was surprisingly yanked from the game after walking the leadoff batter in the sixth.  Following a sacrifice, Colorado State wasted little time in getting its first two hits of the game once Carbajal entered.  Kendal Butterfield and Taylor Hutton hit back to back, RBI singles that were aided by overthrows from the outfield each time.  That was all McCarthy would need as she threw a perfect seventh inning and retired the final nine batters she faced.  Colorado State improved to 13-14, while Long Beach State lost its third straight game and dropped to 18-13 ... In Albuquerque, visiting New Mexico State snapped a 5-game losing streak and picked up a 2-0 win at rival New Mexico.  The Lobos didn't have much offense against a pair of Aggies pitchers, getting three hits.  New Mexico's best chance to score came in the fifth when it got its first hit of the game -- a one-out double by Jordyn Bledsoe.  A New Mexico State error followed, putting Lobos runners at the corners with one out, but a groundout and strikeout ended the threat.  UNM fell to 14-18 overall, while NMSU saw its record move to 15-12.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

UNLV's Oliveto tosses no-hitter against UMass

The third no-hitter of the season in the Mountain West took place Sunday as UNLV junior pitcher Amanda Oliveto didn't allow a hit in a 5-0 win over UMass at the San Diego Classic II.

Five Mountain West teams were in action Sunday.  The Rebels and Colorado State both concluded play in San Diego with wins.  Nevada and Boise State wrapped up play in home tournaments with victories.  Fresno State was the only team that found itself on the losing end Sunday as three errors doomed the Bulldogs.

UNLV 5, UMass 0 -- Amanda Oliveto tossed her fourth career no-hitter and the Rebels sent reeling UMass to a 10th consecutive loss.  Oliveto joins a pair of Mountain West freshmen -- Fresno State's Jill Compton and New Mexico's Lauren Soles -- in throwing no-hitters this season.  The Rebels took advantage of Minutewomen errors in both the second and fourth innings to go up 3-0.  Alyssa Cordova's 2-run single following a UMass error in the second provided Oliveto with the only runs she would need, but UNLV didn't stop there.  In the fourth, Cordova reached on a fielder's choice as Pauline Monreal scored on a throwing error.  The Minutewomen committed eight errors over their final three games of the tourney and now have 47 in 17 games this season. After qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in 16 of the past 17 years, UMass is off to the worst start in school history at 2-15.  In the seventh inning, Tayler Van Acker hit a 2-out, 2-run home run for the game's final margin.  UMass did have multiple base runners, despite not getting a hit.  Minutewomen batters reached on a fielder's choice, a walk, a hit batter, and there were two UNLV errors in the game.  Oliveto has now thrown no-hitters in all three of her collegiate seasons, and the Rebels moved to 12-17 on the season.

Colorado State 3, Seton Hall 1 -- The Rams improved their record to 12-14 overall with a win over the Pirates in San Diego.  Kacie McCarthy allowed three hits and struck out six while walking one to pick up the victory.  In a game with four total runs, just one was earned as the teams combined for five errors.  Kendal Butterfield reached on errors to begin both the second and fourth innings for Colorado State, and scored in both innings.  A sacrifice fly by Danielle Wikre in the third scored the game's lone earned run after singles by Shae Rodriguez and Haley David.  While McCarthy's string of shutouts ended at three, her streak of complete games without an earned run was extended to four.  Seton Hall scored in the second inning to take a brief 1-0 lead after the Rams committed one of their three errors in the game.  The Pirates are 10-11 overall.

Nevada 10, Northern Colorado 6 -- The Wolf Pack completed a 4-0 weekend with a comeback win over the Bears at the Nevada Classic in Reno.  After giving up a 4-run top of the fifth inning and finding themselves facing a 3-run deficit, the Wolf Pack scored seven runs over the next two innings for the win.  Ashley Butera's 2-run home run in the bottom of the fifth pulled Nevada into a tie, and the Pack offense took control.  Karley Hopkins and Sara Parsons combined for six hits and seven RBI, and Nevada had 13 hits to 10 for the Bears.  Karlyn Jones saw her scoreless innings streak end in this one after relieving Bailey Brewer in the top of the fifth, but picked up the victory.  Nevada won its seventh straight game to move to 17-12 on the year.  The Pack's winning streak is their longest since a 12-game winning streak during the 2009 season, the last time they reached the NCAA Tournament.  Northern Colorado, losers of 10 of its last 12 games, is now 9-18-1.

Boise State 6, Portland State 2 -- The Broncos scored all six of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a deficit and defeat the Vikings at the SpringHill Suites Invitational in Boise.  Portland State committed a pair of errors in the sixth inning and Boise State took advantage of two hit batters, and also had four singles in the frame to break the game open.  Lela Work earned the pitching win, striking out five, walking none, and scattering six hits.  Devon Bridges led the Broncos with a pair of hits.  Portland State saw its record fall to 7-20.

St. Mary's 3, Fresno State 2 -- The Bulldogs picked up arguably their most disappointing loss of the season, committing three crucial errors in a disheartening setback to St. Mary's at the Capital Classic in Sacramento.  Coach Trisha Ford made some major tweaks to the lineup, with senior Diane Runge batting leadoff for the first time in her career, Brenna Moss pushed to third after batting first all season, Kapri Angotti moving up from ninth to second in the batting order, Kelly Megee getting her first start at first base, and leading home run hitter Stesha Brazil not starting for the first time in 89 career games at Fresno State.  The Bulldogs' three errors proved costly, especially when two came in the fourth and directly led to all three St. Mary's runs, which were unearned.  Fresno State scored two in the bottom of the fourth on three Gaels miscues.  The Bulldogs looked like they might get it going in the seventh, loading the bases with one out when Megee and Vonnie Martin singled, and pinch hitter Bria Kennedy walked.  Runge hit into a force at home, and Angotti grounded out on one pitch to leave them loaded as the game ended.  Making things worse, Fresno State had already beaten St. Mary's easily twice this season -- last week in an 8-0 run-rule affair, and earlier this season when Jill Compton no-hit the Gaels.  Freshman Taylor Langdon got the tough-luck loss, tossing a 3-hitter and allowing no earned runs as the Bulldogs' defense had an off day.  St. Mary's entered the day just 6-17 on the season, while Fresno State (17-13) lost its second straight after beginning the tourney 2-0.  It was just the second time this year the Bulldogs lost a game when they out-hit their opponent.

Boise State 8, Idaho State 7 -- The Broncos lost a 3-run lead and then rallied from two runs down to nip the Bengals in Boise.  Lela Work won for the second consecutive game and ISU was forced to use four different pitchers in a wild contest that featured 22 hits and a more than 20-minute delay due to an injury that occurred in the Bengals' dugout.  Four Boise State batters had multiple-hit games and the Broncos hit three home runs.  BSU moved to 13-15, while Idaho State fell to 9-14 on a day when action didn't conclude until around 7:30 p.m. local time Sunday evening.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Aztecs snap Red Raiders' 10-game win streak

Everyone but New Mexico played twice Saturday as the Mountain West faced 12 non-conference games.  Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State and San Diego State all beat 2012 NCAA Tournament teams.  Nevada ran its winning streak to a season-high six games, and UNLV split a pair.

San Diego State 3, Texas Tech 0 -- The Aztecs picked up their seventh straight home win in five days -- and one of their bigger wins of the season -- by defeating the Red Raiders of the Big 12 Conference.  The win snapped a 10-game winning streak for Texas Tech, which fell to 24-9 overall. In defeating the Red Raiders, San Diego State helped the Mountain West pick up a win over a Big 12 team for a second straight day following Fresno State's Friday win over a now 21-6 Kansas team.  It was Texas Tech's second loss this season to a team from the Mountain West, as Colorado State notched a win over the Red Raiders last month.  Rebecca Arbino threw a complete-game, 2-hitter to earn the victory and San Diego State scored all of its runs in the sixth.  In a 0-0 pitcher's duel between Arbino and Cara Custer (10-3), the Aztecs scored the game's first run with two outs in the sixth on a Kamerin May RBI single.  Lorena Bauer followed with her conference-leading eighth home run of the season -- a 2-run shot -- and that was all Arbino would need.  Texas Tech left runners in scoring position in three different innings, including at second and third base in the top of the sixth when the game was tied.  Arbino got a groundout to escape the jam.  In the seventh, the Red Raiders had a leadoff double but nothing else.

Colorado State 2, UMass 0 -- Rams senior pitcher Kacie McCarthy tossed a complete-game, 4-hitter in Colorado State's win over the Minutewomen in San Diego.  Danielle Wikre continued a strong weekend with a solo home run in the second for CSU.  The Rams' second run came home in the fifth without benefit of a hit following two UMass errors.  The Minutewomen, off to the worst start in school history at 2-14 overall, committed three errors and now have 44 errors in just 16 games.  They've lost nine straight games and entered the week with the fourth worst fielding percentage of 289 Division I teams.  Colorado State, now 11-13, had five hits in the game, including two each from Wikre and Emily Pohl.  UMass has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 16 of the past 17 seasons.

Fresno State 6, Texas State 1 -- In Sacramento, Bulldog freshman Whitney Smith belted her first career home run, Michelle Solomon had two RBI, and freshman Hannah Harris got the win as Fresno State defeated the Bobcats.  Smith launched a deep blast over the fence in left to begin the top of the fourth inning and give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.  Fresno State stole three bases in the first inning when it went up 2-0, and had four steals for the game.  Sophomore shortstop Maria Sio had a pair of hits, and Solomon's RBIs came on a fielder's choice and a 2-out triple in the third.  Harris scattered eight hits in six innings against a Texas State team that won 39 games a year ago, advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and was declared the preseason favorite to win the WAC two months ago.  The Bobcats have struggled to a 5-21 record after losing their all-conference pitching ace Anne Marie Taylor to injury early in the season.  The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have won five of six to move to 17-11.  Pinch hitter Kelly Megee walked in the fifth and scored when the Bulldogs added a pair of runs on a Paige Gumz double and Vonnie Martin RBI single.

Bryant 2, UNLV 1 -- The Bulldogs scored a run in the sixth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and go on for the victory over the Rebels in San Diego.  Eventual losing pitcher Francesca Foti, who entered in relief of starter Stefany Valentino, walked a batter to begin the sixth and then gave up a single.  After a sacrifice advanced both runners, coach Lisa Dodd turned to Amanda Oliveto, who walked the first batter she faced before giving up the game-winning, infield single.  That run was charged to Foti.  Both teams had seven hits, and Valentino led the way for UNLV with three, including one with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.  The Rebels had a pair of runners on base when Tayler Van Acker grounded out to end the game.  UNLV's record moved to 10-17, while Bryant is now 4-7.

UNLV 8, Buffalo 3 -- The Rebels pounded out 11 hits in a win over the Bulls in San Diego.   Four UNLV players (Tayler Van Acker, Tayler Aleman, Garie Blando, and Pauline Monreal) had two hits apiece.  Monreal hit a pair of doubles and finished with two RBI.  Aleman had three and Van Acker two RBI in a bounce-back win for UNLV after a surprising loss earlier in the day to Bryant University.  Pitcher Amanda Oliveto got the win for the Rebels, scattering seven hits and suffering some wildness with five hit batters.  The Bulls stranded 12 base runners in the contest and left the bases loaded twice.  Buffalo dropped to 4-16 on the season, while the Rebels picked up their 11th win in 28 games.

Nevada 9, Northern Colorado 0 (6 innings) -- The Wolf Pack continued to feast on opposing pitching, picking up their third straight run-rule win Saturday in Reno at the Nevada Classic.  Junior pitcher Karlyn Jones has played a huge role in the Pack's recent 5-game winning streak.  The right-hander tossed her third consecutive complete-game shutout, limiting the Bears to three hits.  Lauren Lastrapes ended the game in the sixth with a 3-run home run, one of two round-trippers for the Pack in the game.  Megan Fincher also went deep against a Bears team that has struggled, losing nine of its past 10 games.  Nevada was the second Mountain West team to run-rule Northern Colorado in a 2-week span after Colorado State grabbed a 10-0 (five innings) win last week.  Fincher, Jasmine Jenkins and Megan Sweet all had two hits as part of Nevada's 10-hit attack.  Jones (10-4) has won six consecutive starts and has been the winning pitcher in two-thirds of the Wolf Pack's victories this season.

Idaho State 6, Boise State 4 -- The Bengals scored in each of the first five innings on their way to a win over the Broncos at the SpringHill Suites Invitational in Boise.  Idaho State had 12 hits, including three home runs, in the game.  Amanda Fitzsimmons had a huge game for the Bengals, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs and four RBI.  Oh, and she also was the game-winning pitcher, too, in an all-around effort.  Fitzsimmons was one of three Idaho State players to have three hits apiece as the Bengals picked up their fourth win of the season over a Mountain West team.  Tara Glover had a 4-hit game with an RBI for Boise State (10-15).  Idaho State, now 8-13 on the season, was coming off a loss earlier in the day to Utah State.

Nevada 6, UT San Antonio 2 -- The Wolf Pack won at their own Nevada Classic, defeating the Roadrunners to pick up their sixth straight win.  Nevada broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth, scoring a pair of runs and then adding two more in the sixth.  Megan Dortch grabbed the victory, going six innings and allowing two hits.  Karlyn Jones gave up a hit in the seventh in relief.  Nevada hit three home runs in the game, with freshman Megan Sweet hitting two and Lauren Lastrapes belting one for the second straight game.

Sacramento State 3, Fresno State 0 -- Hornets ace Caitlin Brooks held the Bulldogs to just two hits and the hometown team won in Sacramento at the Capital Classic. Brooks, who entered the game with a 1.32 ERA, improved to 8-2 with her 10th complete game.  Jill Compton threw a complete-game, 4-hitter for the Bulldogs.  Unfortunately, two of the four hits were home runs as the Hornets scored all three of their runs in the fourth inning of what had been a scoreless pitcher's duel.  Brooks retired the first seven batters of the game before allowing a single to Maria Sio, who had three hits on the day.  Following Sio's single, Brooks retired the next 11 batters in a row.  The Bulldogs got a leadoff single from Diane Runge to begin the seventh but couldn't capitalize.  Sacramento State improved to 13-8 and avenged an earlier 3-2 loss to the Bulldogs this season.  Fresno State is now 17-12 overall.

Boise State 2, Portland State 1 -- Rebecca Patton allowed three hits in a complete-game effort and picked up the win over the Vikings in Boise.  The Broncos managed just two hits in the game, but bunched them both together in the third inning, and Portland State issued a walk and added an error in that all-important frame.  Devon Bridges' 2-out RBI single in the third accounted for Boise State's runs.  Patton forced the Vikings to strand the potential tying run at second base to end the game.  Her 3-hitter matched a career-best outing, previously achieved when she was pitching for Cal Poly.  Boise State is now 11-15, while Portland State, a 2012 NCAA Tournament team, is 6-19 overall.  The Vikings dropped to 0-10 this season in true road games.

San Diego State 9, Seton Hall 0 --  Despite the 9-run margin, this one went the full seven innings as the Aztecs prevailed in San Diego.  San Diego State went up 3-0 in the first inning, before putting the game away with a 4-run top of the seventh as the designated visiting team.  Freshman pitcher Danielle O'Toole was the winner, giving up six hits to the Pirates.  Patrice Jackson continued her recent offensive onslaught with a pair of home runs and three RBI.  She was one of four Aztecs with two hits each in an 11-hit attack.  Seton Hall saw its record drop to 10-10.

Miami-Ohio 3, Colorado State 2 (8 innings) -- In San Diego, the RedHawks scored twice in the bottom of the eighth for a walk-off win over the Rams.  After Colorado State took a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth on an Emily Pohl RBI single, Miami-Ohio tallied a pair in the bottom of the frame to win it.  The international tiebreak rule was in effect when the RedHawks got a sacrifice fly to tie the game following a Kailey Snyder wild pitch that advanced two runners. With two outs in the eighth, a single won it for Miami, which had lost 11 of its past 12 games.  The Rams are 11-14, while the RedHawks won for just the fourth time in 21 games this year.  Pohl had four of CSU's eight hits and both RBI.