Thursday, April 17, 2014

All 9 Mountain West teams in action on a busy Thursday

For the first time this season, all nine Mountain West softball teams were in action on a Thursday.

With the Easter holiday coming this Sunday, conference series began a day earlier than normal.  And Fresno State - sitting atop the Mountain West but idle in conference play this weekend - played a non-conference game on the road at Santa Clara, where it suffered a humiliating defeat to the lowly Broncos.

Colorado State 7, Nevada 1 - The Rams broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the bottom of the fifth to win the series opener in Fort Collins.  It was CSU's eight straight home win, while Nevada's losing streak reached seven.  The Pack has not won a game away from Reno since February.  Kendal Butterfield was the lone Rams player with two hits, and Chelsea O'Connor had three RBI.  Both teams had eight hits and Holly Reinke got the win for CSU.

Boise State 7, San Jose State 6 - The Broncos almost let a healthy lead slip away late, but the Spartans couldn't rally for the road win in Boise.  It was 7-3 in favor of the Broncos heading to the seventh when SJSU scored three runs with two outs.  With the tying and potential winning runs on base, winning pitcher Rebecca Patton escaped the jam.  Boise State was out-hit 10 to five, but managed to win its fourth consecutive game to move over .500 in MW play for the first time in three weeks.  Four of the Broncos' seven wins in conference play have been by one run.  Three of the Spartans' four MW losses have either come in extra innings or been by one run.  Jordan Kreiger and Ashley Palmer hit home runs for BSU, with Kreiger's 2-run blast in the sixth adding some important insurance runs.  Sharon-Renae Estrada hit a homer for SJSU and had two RBI.

New Mexico 11, UNLV 10 - A lot of games in Albuquerque this season have been high-scoring, wild affairs and this one was no different.  After building a 7-2 lead midway through the game, New Mexico saw it disappear completely in the seventh inning.  Looking to close out the win and leading 7-6 in the seventh, UNLV rallied for four runs to take a seemingly comfortable 10-7 lead.  After all, at that point the Rebels had scored eight unanswered runs.  But UNM wasn't done.  The Lobos answered with four of their own in a wild bottom of the seventh.  A Jasmine Casados solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh brought New Mexico within 10-8.  A Willow Kalinen 2-run triple tied it, and Kalinen came home on an RBI, walk-off single by Brandi Heimburg.  Lauren Soles got the win in relief, while Morgan Ettinger took the loss.

San Diego State 6, Utah State 2 - The Aztecs scored the game's first five runs in San Diego and were never threatened by the Aggies.  With the win, San Diego State moved in front of Fresno State by percentage points in the conference standings, though essentially tied for the lead.  Patrice Jackson had a pair of hits and three RBI, while Hayley Miles hit a 3-run home run.  Danielle O'Toole scattered seven hits for the complete-game win.

Santa Clara 1, Fresno State 0 - The Bulldogs' road struggles continued with one of the most stunning losses in school history, and one that all but ended any NCAA at-large hopes the team had.  Against the lowly Broncos (7-26 overall, RPI of 258), Fresno State could do nothing on offense.  The Bulldogs had just three hits -- all singles -- and did not have a base runner after the third inning in a listless, mind-boggling defeat to a team the they'd dominated for decades.  Fresno State entered the game with a staggering 46-1 lead in the all-time series.  SCU pitcher Ciara Gonzales entered the contest with a 3-11 record, but easily dispatched the Bulldogs.  Fresno State's six upperclassmen in the lineup went a combined 0-for-18, and the three singles came from freshman Kierra Willis and sophomores Paige Gumz and Whitney Smith.