Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TUESDAY: BYU run-rules Utah State in Logan

In the only game of the day involving a Mountain West softball team, BYU overpowered in-state rival Utah State in Logan 13-2 in five innings.  The Cougars scored in every inning and pounded 13 hits, including 11 off Aggies starting pitcher Alleyah Armendariz, who saw her record drop to 1-10 this season.  BYU starter McKenna Bull (20-5) went the first four innings to grab the win.  Sarah Chow had half of the Aggies' four hits and both RBI.  Two of USU's four hits in the game came when the Aggies were down to their final out.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

SUNDAY: Two weeks in, San Diego State is a perfect 6-0

San Diego State remained perfect atop the Mountain West and kept Boise State winless with a road victory Sunday, while San Jose State took advantage of Fresno State miscues for its first series win ever over the Bulldogs.  Elsewhere, New Mexico won a second straight road series by taking advantage of UNLV mistakes, and Nevada picked up its first conference win of the year, beating Utah State.

San Jose St. 9, Fresno State 7 - The Spartans snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth, scoring four runs after one of two 2-out errors in the same inning by Bulldog second baseman Malia Rivers, who had a tough defensive day.  Rivers had three of the Bulldogs' season-high four errors and San Jose State took advantage, scoring five unearned runs that were the difference. All nine SJSU runs on the day came with two outs in an inning, and many followed Bulldog miscues. After a dropped pop-up with two outs extended the fifth inning, Trisha Ford decided to intentionally walk Michelle Cox to load the bases in a tie game.  It backfired.  Jessica Madrid hit an infield single and SJSU went in front 4-3 before Jessie Hufstetler was hit by a pitch to make it a 5-3 game.  A 2-run single by Sharon-Renae Estrada preceded another Rivers error and Hannah Harris would be summoned from the bullpen.  Starter Jill Compton took the loss, allowing only three earned runs.  Madison Fish allowed seven earned runs, but picked up the victory for SJSU.  The Bulldogs nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback for a second day in a row, scoring three in the seventh, putting the tying run aboard, and bringing up the potential game-winning run.  Alyssa Villalpando, with runners at the corners, hit into a game-ending double play to end it against reliever Allison Lang, who picked up the save.  Fresno State scored three in the third to take a 3-1 lead as Whitney Smith homered and Paige Gumz hit a 2-run double.  Four of Fresno State's eight hits went for extra bases, but the Spartans had 12 singles.  The Bulldogs had not lost a series at home since 2009, and had never lost a conference series to the Spartans.  After winning 81 of 90 games versus SJSU from 1986 to 2012, the Bulldogs are just 3-4 against the Spartans over the last three seasons.

San Diego State 10, Boise State 6 - This one in Boise followed the pattern set Friday and Saturday in this series.  San Diego State roared to an early lead en route to a win.  It was a 6-run top of the first on six hits for the Aztecs, who had 13 in the game -- all against Boise State freshman Rachel Rodriguez.  Kayla Bufardeci and Leia Ruiz each hit 2-run doubles in the opening frame as San Diego State won its 10th straight Mountain West game dating back to last season.  Boise State dropped its 13th consecutive game overall.  Bufardeci later added a solo home run as part of SDSU's13-hit attack, and the Broncos had 10 hits off Aztecs starter and winning pitcher, Erica Romero.  Sara Ketelsleger hit a 2-run home run to trim the Boise State deficit to 8-6 before San Diego State scored twice in the seventh to push the lead back to four runs.

New Mexico 2, UNLV 1 - In a pitcher's duel in Las Vegas, the Lobos picked up the series win by holding the Rebels to four hits.  New Mexico captured a second straight conference series for the first time since the Mountain West adopted the 3-game series format after the 2011 season.  In doing so, UNM won its 20th game of the year and moved into a tie for third place in the league standings with preseason favorite Fresno State.  Struggling UNLV, meanwhile, has lost 9 of its past 10 games and dropped both of its first two series on the season.  New Mexico scored an unearned run in the top of the first as Garie Blando's throwing error was one of two Rebels miscues on the day.  Blando would atone for it in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer.  The game-winning run came for UNM in the fifth on Alyssa Cordova's error following a Jasmine Casados single.  Rebels starting pitcher Morgan Ettinger took the loss, despite not allowing an earned run in the contest and going the distance.  Each team's leadoff batter -- Blando for UNLV and Brandi Heimburg for New Mexico -- had two hits.  Krissy Fortner went the first four for UNM to grab the victory, while Lisa Rodrigues picked up the save.

Nevada 3, Utah State 2 - In Reno, the Wolf Pack won their first Mountain West game of the year by surviving a tight seventh inning.  Nevada took a 2-0 lead in the first on consecutive RBI singles by Ashley Butera and Jennifer Purcell.  The lead became three on an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth and that insurance run would prove important.  Utah State scored a pair in the top of the seventh and had the bases loaded with two outs when Nevada's Megan Dortch got Hailey Froton to line out to third to end it.  The Pack had six hits from three different players.  Aaliyah Gibson, Butera and Purcell all had two hits apiece while the rest of the Nevada squad went 0-for-16.  Noelle Johnson took the loss for Utah State.  Dortch allowed five hits in the complete-game win.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SATURDAY: Fresno State erupts late to stun San Jose State

The Mountain West saved the best game of the day for last as Fresno State handed San Jose State its first conference loss with a stunning comeback.  Elsewhere, San Diego State erupted with five home runs in a rout over struggling Boise State; New Mexico earned an extra-inning road win at UNLV; and Utah State dispatched of Nevada.

Fresno State 3, San Jose State 2 (8 innings) - It was like two completely different games in one as the Spartans dominated much of the night before the Bulldogs rallied to tie it in the seventh and win it in the eighth during an impressive come-from-behind outing in front of 1,093 fans.  The game began looking exactly like it had the previous night in a 1-0 SJSU win -- Fresno State without much sense of urgency, some questionable at-bats, and some defensive miscues, but the Spartans locked in and ready to go from the outset.  SJSU took the early lead, just like it did on Friday, in the first inning.  Jessie Hufstetler singled with one out in the top of the first and came home on a 2-out wild pitch by Bulldog starter Hannah Harris.  SJSU stretched it to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Fresno State committed two of its three errors in the game during that frame.  And that's how the game stayed for most of the night, with San Jose State hanging onto a 2-0 lead.  Spartans starting pitcher Allison Lang tossed an outstanding game and had the Bulldogs grounding out on pitch after pitch after pitch, mowing Fresno State down at a quick pace.  Lang didn't allow a base runner through the first 5 2/3 innings and was four outs from a perfect game before a light bulb seemed to go off in the collective heads of the Bulldogs.  Pinch-hitter Katie Castellon walked with two outs in the sixth to end Lang's hopes of a perfect game, and Brenna Moss followed with the first hit for Fresno State.  After Malia Rivers singled, the Bulldogs had the bases loaded in an inning that would end on a groundout with SJSU still ahead 2-0.  In the seventh, Kierra Willis singled to lead it off and the Bulldogs made it a 2-1 game when Paige Gumz smacked an RBI double.  After a groundout advanced Gumz to third, Bria Kennedy hit a deep sacrifice fly to left, tying the score 2-2 and the game would go to extras.  Harris was on top of her game after the second inning, allowing just two singles the rest of the way to earn the win with a 6-hitter.  Only one of the two runs off Harris was earned.  She retired SJSU in order in the top of the eighth, giving the Bulldogs a chance to win it... and they did.  Whitney Smith worked a walk against Lang, and Moss followed with her second straight hit.  Rivers was out on a fielder's choice, but, more importantly, it gave Fresno State runners at the corners.  With two outs and runners at second and third, Willis singled on a 2-2 pitch to bring home Smith with the game-winning run in a stunning comeback.  After being held hitless by Lang for the first five innings, the Bulldogs had two hits apiece in each of the last three innings.  Moss and Willis both went 2-for-2 in their final two at-bats of the game.  Six Spartans had one hit each.  Both teams ended the day at 4-1 in Mountain West play.

And the tweet that caused a great deal of controversy:

San Diego State 16, Boise State 2 (5 innings) - We probably know who will win conference hitter of the week honors next week and it's going to be an Aztec.  At this point, though, it could be one of a couple different players who had monster afternoons at the plate for the Aztecs.  San Diego State, once down 2-1 in the top of the third, used three consecutive 5-run innings and blasted the Broncos in Boise.  Home runs were the focus in this one as SDSU sent five out of the yard, including a stunning 3 homer display from Lorena Bauer.  Already San Diego State's all-time record holder in home runs, Bauer smashed homers in three straight innings, launching a grand slam in the third, a 2-run shot in the fourth, and a solo blast in the fifth.  SDSU would score 15 unanswered runs after Boise State took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first against Aztecs starter and winning pitcher Erica Romero on a 2-run single by Hailey Torrez.  In addition to Bauer's big day, San Diego State got a grand slam from Hayley Miles, who finished with five RBI.  Sydnee Cable's solo blast in the first gave the Aztecs an early 1-0 lead on a day when they had 13 hits.  San Diego State moved alone into first place in the Mountain West (5-0), a game ahead of both San Jose State and Fresno State (each 4-1).  The Aztecs won their ninth straight MW contest spanning two seasons.  For Boise State, the Broncos' school-record losing streak has reached 12 in a row.  BSU, which has been run-ruled four times in its past five games, saw pitchers Mackenzie McGill and Nicole Wilson walk nine SDSU batters in the game.

New Mexico 6, UNLV 3 (8 innings) - The Lobos bounced back from a tough, walk-off loss on Friday night with an extra-innings win in Las Vegas over the host Rebels.  Krissy Fortner allowed two hits in three innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory for UNM.  This was a game where New Mexico moved out to a 3-run lead before watching it disappear late when UNLV scored three in the bottom of the sixth to tie it.  In the decisive eighth, Michala Erickson singled to lead off the frame, and came home on an RBI double by freshman Chelsea Johnson.  Karissa Haleman, who had homered earlier in the game with her third round-tripper of the season, then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Mariah Rimmer, who'd walked just prior to Johnson's hit.  Mia Hignojos brought home the third run of that extra frame for UNM with an RBI single.  Fortner worked a quick bottom of the eighth, aided by a double play, to grab the win.  Hignojos, Johnson and Gabrielle Stacey all finished with two hits for the Lobos, who had to overcome a day where they committed four errors.  UNLV had nine hits, including a multi-hit game from Samantha Juarez, who had two.  With each team having won one game this weekend, New Mexico will look to capture its second consecutive series with a victory on Sunday, while UNLV looks to win its first MW series of the year.

Utah State 11, Nevada 9 - In a wild game in Reno, freshman pitcher Jordyn McCracken, one of three Aggies hurlers on the afternoon, won her first game as a collegian to improve to 1-3.  Nicole Arata hit a home run and had two RBI, while Hailey Froton had a pair of doubles and finished with three RBI.  After getting down 2-0, Utah State used a 6-run top of the third on seven hits to take a short-lived 4-run lead.  The key hit of that frame for the Aggies was one of Froton's two doubles, and the Pack committed a pair of errors in the third as well.  Nevada would respond quickly though, scoring five in the bottom of the inning to take a 7-6 lead.  Karley Hopkins got the rally started with a leadoff double, and Megan Sweet had a 2-run single in the inning.  Nevada recaptured the lead as an Aggies error scored the final two runs of the third.  Paxton Provost had three hits in the game, including a triple in the fourth as Utah State went back in front for good.  USU won its second straight game in Reno after entering the weekend on a 3-game losing streak.  USU's win for a second day in a row in Reno, means the Aggies have won a Mountain West series for the first time in a year, ending a string of eight straight series losses. Nevada tried to make it close down the stretch and made it interesting in a dramatic bottom of the seventh.  The game ended on an interference play when the Wolf Pack had the potential tying runs aboard.  Both teams finished with 13 hits.

Friday, March 27, 2015

FRIDAY: Spartans, Aztecs now tied atop the MW at 4-0

San Diego State and San Jose State ended the day tied for first atop the Mountain West as preseason favorite Fresno State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten.  The Aztecs picked up a road win at reeling Boise State, while the Spartans picked up a rare road victory in Fresno.

San Jose State 1, Fresno State 0 - In a pitcher's duel between Allison Lang and Jill Compton, it was Lang who came out on top against a Bulldogs team that looked shockingly flat and unfocused at home.  The first inning -- and, in fact, the first pitch of the game -- told the tale of this one.  Michelle Cox doubled down the line on Compton's first pitch of the night and it would lead to the game's only run.  With two outs and Cox at third, Sharon-Renae Estrada singled up the middle, just beyond the grasp of Compton, and that was it.  Ball game.  The Bulldogs had only one major scoring chance in this one, and it too came in the first inning when they blew a golden opportunity.  The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the first when Malia Rivers singled and Lang walked a pair.  Lang escaped her only true jam of the night as Paige Gumz struck out and Alyssa Villalpando grounded out on a 3-1 pitch, leaving the bases loaded.  Compton struck out six and was rarely in trouble herself, but the Bulldogs looked lethargic on offense.  Rivers had two hits for the Bulldogs, but the rest of the team went an embarrassing 1-for-19.  And immediately after that one hit, Fresno State had its base runner picked off as SJSU used some heads up defense to tag Michelle Solomon, who'd wandered too far off first base. The Spartans weren't a whole lot better on offense, especially for a team that came in ranked in the nation's top 10 in batting average.  Aside from Cox and Taylor Purdy (who had two singles), SJSU was 1-for-18.  Much of it could be attributed to Compton and Lang, but the game severely lacked the fire, passion and excitement of two unbeaten conference rivals.  Even the fans may have been out of it.  Just 896 turned out, making it one of the smallest home crowds at Fresno State for a conference game in decades.  The league's top two hitters coming in -- the Bulldogs' Brenna Moss and the Spartans' Jessie Hufstetler -- both were hitless.  It was only the 12th win ever for San Jose State over Fresno State in a series long-dominated by the Bulldogs, who lead it now 83-12.

San Diego State 6, Boise State 4 - The Aztecs looked like they would win a huge blowout early, but things settled down after a San Diego State offensive flurry to start the game.  All six Aztecs runs were scored in the first 1 1/3 innings as SDSU's bats came out slugging early against Broncos freshman pitcher Rachel Rodriguez.  The first six San Diego State hitters all reached base safely to begin the game versus Rodriguez and SDSU was on the scoreboard mere moments after it started.  Kayla Jordan walked to lead off, and came home instantly as the game's second batter, Sydnee Cable, doubled.  Lorena Bauer followed with a home run before Rodriguez walked and hit the next two batters.  After Kayla Bufardeci's single made it 3-0, another walk and wild pitch were on the way.  Rodriguez managed to escape that jam as SDSU left the bases loaded.  A solo homer by Shaelee Pearson off eventual winning pitcher Erica Romero represented Boise State's first run in the bottom of the first.  In the second, the Aztecs got a 3-run homer from Peres and that was enough to chase Rodriguez from the game.  Her replacement -- Nicole Wilson -- was terrific the rest of the way, pitching 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.  But asking for five additional runs against Romero would be too much, though Boise State did make a game of it.  Single runs came in the second, third and fifth innings as the Broncos had nine hits against Romero.  Boise State left eight runners on base in the first five innings of the contest and Romero retired seven in a row to end the game.  San Diego State won its eighth straight Mountain West game dating back to last season, while Boise State's program-record losing streak has now reached 11.

UNLV 6, New Mexico 5 - In Las Vegas, last season's Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, Garie Blando, revealed that she might not be ready to give up that title.  Blando hit a walk-off home run in the seventh to clinch the victory in a game where she played a huge role.  She finished with half of UNLV's six hits and scored four of the team's six runs.  New Mexico out-hit the Rebels 12 to six but could never quite get over the hump.  UNM left nine runners on base and left them loaded in the fifth when Mariah Rimmer flew out.  Rimmer had two hits and an RBI and was one of four Lobos with multi-hit games.  Jasmine Casados had three, while Brandi Heimburg and Michala Erickson had two each.  Reliever Krissy Fortner (4-3) took the loss, while UNLV freshman Janine Petmecky, who entered in relief of starter Morgan Ettinger, picked up her first collegiate win after five losses.  UNLV snapped a season-high 7-game losing streak with the victory while New Mexico lost its opening game of a conference series for the second weekend in a row.

Utah State 5, Nevada 0 - In Reno in front of 156 fans, Hailey Froton had two hits and two RBI as the Aggies shut out the Wolf Pack in a matchup of struggling teams.  Noelle Johnson (9-8), who has all but one of USU's 10 wins this season, had two hits on offense and tossed the complete-game shutout, limiting Nevada to five hits.  The Wolf Pack were playing in their league opener, while the Aggies were coming off a 3-game losing streak, including two to New Mexico in Logan last weekend.  The two teams were left with identical 10-20 records at the conclusion of Friday.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WEDNESDAY: Mountain West teams win 2 of 3 non-conference games

In non-conference action Wednesday, Colorado State and San Jose State picked up victories at home, while Utah State fell in Logan. The Rams bounced back from an 0-3 weekend with a 6-0 victory over Northern Colorado.  Trinity Harrington tossed a complete-game 2-hitter for CSU, which improved to 19-16 overall.  Danielle Wikre hit a 3-run home run and Savannah Clark had a double and two RBI for the Rams.  In the Spartans' win over Pacific, eight walks were issued in the first two innings and SJSU used a 6-run second to take control.  Jessica Madrid had a 3-run double and Jessie Hufstetler a 3-run home run for the Spartans' two extra-base hits in a 12-hit attack that featured 10 singles.  UOP had seven hits against three San Jose State (23-11) pitchers, but the Tigers stranded eight, including five in the first two innings.  Also, Wednesday, Utah State suffered a 3rd straight setback, losing a 13-3 run-rule affair to Idaho State in Logan.  Sarah Chow had two hits and Jordyn McCracken pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the Aggies, who dropped to 9-20.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TUESDAY: Aggies beat Lobos in Rio Grande Rivalry game

In the lone game involving a Mountain West softball team Tuesday, the opening game of two this season in the Rio Grande Rivalry series went to visiting New Mexico State, which beat New Mexico 12-6 in Albuquerque.  NMSU improved to 24-11 overall, while the Lobos (18-14) saw their 2-game win streak snapped.  The Aggies jumped to a 6-0 lead in the top of the second before UNM got on the board with a 2-run home run by Jasmine Casados in the third.  New Mexico twice fought off a run-rule defeat, scoring a pair of runs in the fifth when it trailed 10-2, and two more in the sixth when the Lobos were down 12-4.  Down to its last strike in the sixth, New Mexico got an RBI single from Casados to make it 12-5.  Mariah Rimmer, coming off a 2 home run performance Sunday at Utah State, then hit an RBI single to make it a 12-6 game, but the Lobos were unable to complete the comeback.  Starter Lisa Rodrigues took the loss for UNM, which had 11 hits to 17 for the Aggies.  Casados had three hits and three RBI for the Lobos.  The two rivals will meet again in Las Cruces on April 14.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Aztecs, Bulldogs among the nation's top 42 teams in RPI

The first Ratings Percentage Index of the season was released Monday, holding good news for San Diego State, Fresno State and San Jose State, all of whom enter the week tied for first place in the Mountain West standings.

The Aztecs (30th) and Bulldogs (42nd) both reside well within the RPI top 50, which is important for NCAA at-large consideration.  The Spartans are just outside at 59, and the Mountain West has a fourth team in the top 70 as UNLV sits at 67.  Those four teams are all ranked higher this season than in the initial RPI last year.  The Rebels have a 15-spot improvement, while Fresno State is up seven spots, SJSU up five, and SDSU up four.

The remaining Mountain West teams have the following RPIs in the initial release:  Colorado State 127, New Mexico 144, Nevada 186, Utah State 191 and Boise State 222.  These numbers have fluctuated a bit throughout the day as it appears the NCAA -- like it did in men's and women's basketball this season -- will update the RPI continuously through the remainder of the season rather than on a weekly basis as it did in previous seasons.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fresno State posts MW's first ever 3-game sweep at CSU

The opening weekend of conference play in the Mountain West concluded Sunday with some record-breaking performances and remarkable statistics.  Fresno State became the first team in conference history to sweep a 3-game road series in Fort Collins in Colorado State, and the Bulldogs did it in very convincing fashion by adding another run-rule win on Sunday.  San Jose State and San Diego State joined the Bulldogs at 3-0 with sweeps at home over a pair of teams in major funks.  The Spartans and Aztecs swept Boise State and UNLV, respectively, as the Broncos and Rebels have now combined to lose 17 consecutive games this season between them.  Meanwhile, New Mexico hit six home runs in a single game, blasting Utah State in Logan to win that series two games to one.

Here is a detailed look at Sunday's action.

Fresno State 11, Colorado State 2 (5 innings) - The Bulldogs run-ruled the Rams for the second time in three days and became the first Mountain West team to sweep a 3-game conference road series in Fort Collins.  Since the conference adopted the 3-game weekend series format following the 2011 season, Colorado State had never been swept at home.  In fact, the Rams are traditionally one of the toughest teams to beat at home, making this 3-game sweep by the Bulldogs more remarkable.  Perhaps most impressive of all in Fresno State's 3-game sweep is this:  Colorado State entered the series unbeaten at home this season (5-0), winners of 20 of its past 25 at home, and riding the Mountain West's hottest streak by winning 11 of its last 12 overall.  But it was Trisha Ford's Bulldogs who dominated this weekend start to finish, posting a pair of run-rule routs and outscoring Colorado State 23-3 in the process.  The high-powered Fresno State offense had 14 hits in this one and responded in a big way after getting down early.  After the Rams got a pair of two-out RBI singles in the second inning to go in front 2-0, it represented Colorado State's first and only lead in a game this weekend.  It would last only about five minutes as the Bulldogs responded immediately in the top of the third.  The first four batters in the frame got hits against CSU starter and eventual losing pitcher Trinity Harrington.  Brenna Moss and Malia Rivers singled, and Michelle Solomon brought home the first run with a single to center.  Kierra Willis then put the Bulldogs in front for good with a 2-run single to right-center.  An inning later, Fresno State broke it wide open with six runs, including four that came with two outs.  Solomon joined Paige Gumz, Alyssa Villalpando and Chase LeeHong with RBI hits in that frame as the Rams turned to three different pitchers in a single inning to try and stop a Bulldogs offense that pounded out 31 hits in 17 innings in the series.  Gumz finished the weekend with seven RBI after having four more RBI on a pair of hits Sunday.  Moss, Rivers, Solomon, Villalpando and Gumz all finished with multiple hits in Sunday's win, while Willis had two RBI.  Jill Compton went the distance for the win, completing an outstanding weekend with two wins and one save.  Compton held Colorado State's heart of the batting order in check as CSU's two through seven hitters in the lineup went hitless.  Fresno State has won seven of its last eight games, and the Bulldogs have lost just once in the last 30 days to a team ranked outside the Top 25.

San Jose St. 9, Boise State 0 (5 innings) - The Spartans had eight hits and run-ruled the
Broncos, who saw their program-record losing streak reach double digits with a 10th straight loss.  It was the fourth consecutive run-rule defeat for Boise State, which has lost 13 of its last 14 games and now is just seven losses short of the school record for most in a season.  San Jose State, as it did all weekend against Cindy Ball's squad, jumped on top early.  The Spartans scored three in the first against BSU as Broncos freshman starting pitcher Rachel Rodriguez struggled with control.  After an Alyssa Martinez RBI single put SJSU up 1-0, Rodriguez issued a 2-out walk and hit-by-pitch -- both with the bases loaded -- to force in two runs for a quick 3-run Spartans lead.  Mackenize McGill came in to pitch the second and gave up a pair of runs as Martinez hit a sacrifice fly after Jessica Madrid had a hit and RBI.  Four more runs in the third sealed the deal for San Jose State.  Madrid hit a double and Martinez completed a 4 RBI game with a 2-run single.  Allison Lang earned the win, allowing just three hits as Boise State scored only one run in the 3-game series.  For a team that built its reputation on power hitting, the Broncos' bats have gone almost completely silent of late.  Boise State has been held to one or no runs in seven of its last eight games -- all losses.  The Spartans outscored the Broncos 26-1 in the series.

San Diego St. 7, UNLV 3 - Sydnee Cable made a rare pitching start in the circle, but was replaced by Erica Romero as the Rebels took an early lead but were unable to hold it.  After entering the weekend with a 2-game home losing streak, San Diego State ended up sweeping the 3-game series from the Rebels, who have now lost seven consecutive games for its longest winless streak since losing eight straight in the 2012 season.  Samantha Juarez tripled off Cable to begin the game and UNLV took a 1-0 lead immediately as Alyssa Cordova hit a sacrifice fly.  SDSU took the lead in the bottom of the first on a 2-run single by Kayla Bufardeci before the Rebels answered back with a pair of runs of their own in the second.  Jamie DePippo singled for UNLV and was sacrificed to second, prompting Aztecs coach Kathy Van Wyk to turn to her workhorse in Romero.  The sophomore, who's pitched over 125 innings more than any other SDSU hurler this season, entered with a 2-1 lead but quickly fell behind.  An Aztecs error tied the score and Garie Blando's RBI single gave the Rebels a short-lived 3-2 lead.  San Diego State tied it in the bottom of the third on a bunt single by Bufardeci, and took the lead with four in the fourth.  The big blow in that frame was a 2-run homer by Kayla Jordan.  UNLV used three pitchers and freshman Janine Petmecky fell to 0-5 by picking up the loss.

New Mexico 12, Utah State 2 (6 innings) - The Lobos hit six home runs, including four in a wild, 8-run sixth inning that broke open a tight game.  This one was just a 4-2 game heading to the top of the sixth after Utah State rallied for a pair of runs in the fifth.  But New Mexico would begin the top of the sixth in a big way by hitting back to back to back round-trippers as Mariah Rimmer, Karissa Haleman and Mia Hignojos all blasted shots off USU pitcher Noelle Johnson.  For Haleman, it would be her second home run of a game where half of the Lobos' 12 hits were homers.  Not to be outdone, Rimmer came up again in the top of the sixth inning as New Mexico batted around and hit her second home run of the inning.  UNM had been held to five hits in the game through the first five innings before getting seven hits in that decisive sixth frame.  Michala Erickson's home run in the top of the first inning was her second in two games and gave the Lobos an early 2-0 lead.  Erickson and Rimmer would finish with four RBI.  New Mexico, which had lost 10 consecutive conference series prior to meeting Utah State last season, has now won two of its past three 3-game league series.  Both have come against the Aggies.  Utah State has lost eight straight conference series.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

SATURDAY: Bulldogs, Spartans, Aztecs now 2-0 in MW play

Day two of the Mountain West regular-season race took place Saturday, and Fresno State, San Jose State and San Diego State moved to 2-0 with victories for a second straight day.  Elsewhere, New Mexico picked up its first conference win on the road in Logan.

Fresno State 3, Colorado State 1 - The Bulldogs picked up their second straight win in Fort Collins behind another dominant pitching performance as Hannah Harris earned the win.  Fresno State moved within a game of a rarity in Mountain West play -- a 3-game road sweep of a team predicted to contend for the conference championship.  None of last year's top three MW finishers managed a 3-game road sweep in conference play, let alone against a team like the Rams, who entered this series unbeaten at home and winners of 11 of their last 12 games overall.  Fresno State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.  Brenna Moss walked and Malia Rivers singled to begin the game, and Moss later scored on a 2-out CSU error.  In the fourth, the Bulldogs extended the lead after Paige Gumz hit a 2-run home run, the Bulldogs' third round-tripper in two games against the Rams.  Gumz' blast followed a Kierra Willis single.  Colorado State got its only run of the game (and first of the series) on a 2-out single by Haley Hutton in the fifth.  After CSU was limited to three hits by Jill Compton in Friday's 9-0 Fresno State win, Harris allowed just three Saturday to earn the victory in five innings of work.  Compton went the final two frames to pick up the save, allowing only a single by Hutton with two outs in the seventh.  Bria Kennedy, after a 2-hit day Friday, went 2-for-2 and reached base safely in all three plate appearances.  Gumz finished with two RBI, and Willis added her fourth RBI in two days.  Holly Reinke scattered seven hits and took the loss.

San Jose State 8, Boise State 0 (6 innings) - The Spartans grabbed a second straight run-rule rout of the faltering Broncos in San Jose.  Boise State lost for a program-record ninth straight game, and suffered a third consecutive run-rule defeat.  It was the sixth time this season the Broncos endured a run-rule loss and the fourth time in two weeks.  Just like on Friday, a 3-run first inning set the tone for this one and put Boise State in a hole early.  Jessie Hufstetler, who had two doubles yesterday, added a pair again today.  Her double in the first was one of three hits off Broncos starting pitcher Nicole Wilson in the opening frame.  Taylor Purdy's RBI double made it 3-0 and the Spartans were in business right off the bat.  San Jose State got a fine pitching performance from Madison Fish, who tossed a complete-game 3-hitter against the struggling Broncos.  The Spartans committed a pair of errors and Fish hit two Boise State batters as BSU had a few opportunities to battle back.  Fish was at her best against the Broncos' Devon Bridges, who went 0-for-3.  Bridges twice hit into groundouts to end innings and potential Boise State rallies.  Fish induced Bridges to groundout with runners at second and third base to end the third inning and with the bases loaded to conclude the fifth.  In the sixth, the run rule was invoked on a fielder's choice following a hit-by-pitch.

New Mexico 8, Utah State 7 - In Logan, the Lobos got a key home run from Lisa Rodrigues to break open a tight game and then held on for a win over the Aggies.  Rodrigues' blast, off USU freshman pitcher Jordyn McCracken, came with two outs in the top of the fifth inning to break open a tight 1-run game.  It gave UNM an 8-4 lead but the Lobos had to withstand a late rally by Utah State.  Alleyah Armendariz, who started the game in the circle but struggled, hit a double to begin the fifth and later scored on a wild pitch to cut the USU deficit to 8-5.  In the sixth, Hailey Froton singled to score Jolene Koons, who doubled, and suddenly it was 8-6.  If that wasn't dramatic enough, things got even more tense in the bottom of the seventh.  Victoria Saucedo homered to make it a 1-run game, and Noelle Johnson walked.  Nicole Arata then doubled, but Johnson was thrown out at home plate trying to score the potential tying run on the hit.   Michala Erickson homered for New Mexico in the first inning.  It was one of 11 UNM hits compared to 13 for the Aggies.  The Lobos got 2-hit afternoons from Erickson, Rodrigues, Mia Hignojos and Mariah Rimmer.  UNM used three pitchers, with starter Carrie Sheehan allowing four runs on eight hits.  Middle reliever Krissy Fortner was relieved late by Rodrigues, who grabbed the save.

San Diego State 4, UNLV 0 - In San Diego, the Aztecs got all of their runs on one swing of the bat to win a second straight game over the suddenly reeling Rebels.  UNLV suffered a sixth consecutive loss overall and an eighth straight defeat away from Las Vegas.  The Rebels have lost 11 of 13 games played outside the state of Nevada this season.  The Aztecs' mainstay in the pitching circle this season -- sophomore Erica Romero -- got the start once again and picked up the victory, scattering six hits.  The Rebels went with freshman Janine Petmecky, who entered the game with an ERA of 7.00 and fell to 0-4.  Petmecky held San Diego State in check for the most part as UNLV out-hit the Aztecs for a second straight game.  The Rebels had six hits to five for SDSU, but UNLV stranded nine base runners compared to just two for SDSU.  The third inning would tell the story in this one.  In the third, Samantha Camello reached to lead off the frame on one of two UNLV errors in the game.  Singles by Kayla Jordan and Sydnee Cable followed, loading the bases for Lorena Bauer, who delivered the game-winning hit.  Bauer launched a grand slam to left-center, marking her school-record 47th home run and that was all Romero would need, despite some late-game troubles.  UNLV got the first two batters of the seventh on base before Samantha Juarez hit into a double play.  The Rebels have been outscored 34-3 during their current losing streak and have been shut out in four of their last five games.  Jordan was the only player for San Diego State with multiple hits in the game; she had two.  Emily Haslinger and Fahren Glackin had two hits each for UNLV.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fresno St.'s Compton hands Rams first shutout loss in 60 games

The opening day of conference play in Mountain West softball was one with some standout performances and impressive results.

In the opening game of the only conference series this weekend to match teams with winning overall records, preseason Mountain West favorite Fresno State came up with an impressive road victory.  The Bulldogs combined a power-hitting offense with a stellar pitching performance and run-ruled Colorado State in Fort Collins 9-0 in five innings.

Elsewhere, San Jose State run-ruled reeling Boise State 9-1 in six innings in San Jose, and Utah State rode the arm of Noelle Johnson to a 4-0 win over New Mexico in Logan, Utah.  In the final game of the day, defending conference champion San Diego State used three UNLV errors to its advantage in a 5-1 victory in San Diego.

Fresno State 9, Colorado State 0 (5 innings) - Jill Compton tossed a 3-hit shutout in Fort Collins as the Bulldogs became the first team to hold the Rams scoreless in their last 60 games.  Colorado State entered the day unbeaten at home this season and having won 11 of its past 12 games overall, but was overwhelmed by the Bulldogs early in this one.  The first four Fresno State batters of the game reached against Rams starter Molly Randle as Brenna Moss walked, Malia Rivers singled, Michelle Solomon reached on an error and Kierra Willis walked.  Paige Gumz delivered a sacrifice fly and Bria Kennedy singled, setting up perhaps the game's pivotal moment.  With two outs in the first, freshman Chase LeeHong blasted her first collegiate home run -- a 3-run shot -- in her first-ever at-bat in a conference game.  That put the Bulldogs up 6-0 as they sent 11 batters to the plate in the opening frame.  In the fourth, Rivers and Solomon singled to lead off the inning, and Willis launched another 3-run home run to make it 9-0.  That was more than enough for Compton, who allowed just three singles and didn't allow a base runner after the third inning.  Compton struck out four and didn't walk a batter.  LeeHong and Willis both finished with three RBI, while Rivers, Solomon and Kennedy had two hits apiece.  Fresno State became the first team to run-rule the Rams in Fort Collins in nearly two years and just the second in the last four seasons.  The only other team to do it (San Diego State in a 12-4 win in six innings in 2013) went on to win the Mountain West regular-season championship.  Randle, who took the loss, entered the day with the lowest ERA in the conference at 2.11, while Compton was third.

San Jose State 9, Boise State 1 (6 innings) - Playing at home in San Jose, the Spartans got a combined 3-hitter from Allison Lang and Katelyn Linford to run-rule the Broncos.  Struggling Boise State lost for the eighth consecutive time.  San Jose State got a 4-hit, 2-RBI day from Jessie Hufstetler, who had two singles and two doubles to lead the way offensively.  The Spartans had five doubles on the afternoon as Alyssa Martinez hit two and finished with three RBI.  The Broncos took a 1-0 lead in the first but could do little after that, despite the fact the game featured a staggering 12 walks -- six by both teams.  SJSU scored three in the bottom of the first and added four more in the third.  All seven of those runs were charged to starter (and losing pitcher) Mackenzie McGill, who fell to 3-5 on the year.  Reliever Rachel Rodriguez entered in the third with the bases loaded and immediately gave up a single to Taylor Purdy.  That hit, combined with a Broncos outfield error, cleared the bases and put San Jose State up 7-1.  The Spartans added two more in the sixth to invoke the run rule. 

Utah State 4, New Mexico 0 - Noelle Johnson allowed only one hit and the Lobos, predicted to finish last in the Mountain West in the preseason coaches poll, couldn't muster much of an offense.  In the third, Utah State scored the only three runs it would need.  With one out, Sarah Chow singled and later scored on an RBI double by Jolene Koons.  Hailey Froton then tripled and Alleyah Armendariz doubled to complete the scoring in that frame.  Armendariz, Koons and Chow finished with two hits each and Armendariz had a pair of RBI in the win.  It snapped an 8-game conference losing streak dating back to last season for the Aggies.  Utah State had not won a Mountain West game since beating New Mexico on April 25, 2014.  Krissy Fortner, who had not seen a lot of time in the circle this season but was second in the conference in ERA entering the game, allowed all eight hits in the complete-game loss.  After Brandi Heimburg singled for UNM to lead off the fourth inning, Johnson did not allow a hit the rest of the way, retiring the final 12 Lobo batters in a row.

San Diego State 5, UNLV 1 - San Diego State was out-hit six to five, but three UNLV errors were the difference in this one as the Aztecs won their conference opener at home in San Diego.  All 11 hits in the game were singles.  Morgan Ettinger started and was the tough-luck loser for the Rebels, who lost their fifth in a row.  Erica Romero started for the 22nd time in 30 SDSU games this season and grabbed the victory to snap a 2-game losing streak.  The Rebels committed an error in each inning in which the Aztecs scored.  In the first, Jenavee Peres hit a sacrifice fly after UNLV starting pitcher Morgan Ettinger hit a batter and gave up a single to Lorena Bauer.  After the Rebels tied it in the fourth, the Aztecs took the lead for good with a run in the fifth when Kayla Jordan singled and the ball was misplayed in the outfield by UNLV's Samantha Juarez.  Three runs came across for San Diego State in the sixth -- again aided by an error.  After two quick outs, a walk to Hayley Miles and a single by Kayla Bufardeci put two Aztecs runners on base.  A ground ball to Garie Blando was misplayed, extending the inning.  Instead of a 2-1 game heading to the 7th, this one was all but over as three runs would come across in the sixth -- all with two outs -- for a 4-run margin.  Jordan, who had three of SDSU's five hits, singled against reliever Sydney Munell for the final two runs of the sixth.  Romero gave up a leadoff single in the seventh before retiring the final three batters she faced to pick up the win.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WEDNESDAY: Aztecs fall to Arizona 6-1

After losing twice in its own San Diego Classic II last weekend, San Diego State lost for the second time in as many days this week with a 6-1 setback at home to No. 17 Arizona.  The Wildcats (25-7) racked up 11 hits against Erica Romero at the SDSU Softball Stadium Wednesday.  Just like in Tuesday's 11-4 loss to UConn, the Aztecs' first run came via a solo homer by Kayla Jordan.  It would be their only run against Arizona pitcher Michelle Floyd on this night ... Also, Wednesday, Utah State and Nevada split a pair of road doubleheaders as each team won their opening game before falling in their respective nightcaps.  The Aggies beat Southern Utah 7-3 in the opener before losing 9-7 in game two.  The Wolf Pack won 6-5 in 10 innings at Sacramento State to begin the day, before suffering a 5-2 setback to the Hornets in the second game.  Noelle Johnson (Utah State) and McKenna Isenberg (Nevada) picked up pitching wins.

Evaluating the non-conference season

With the start of conference play just 48 hours away for Mountain West softball teams, it's time to take a look back at the non-league portion of the season.  While a small handful of non-conference games remain to be played, let's take a realistic look at where every team stands heading into Mountain West play.

Stats and records are for games played through Tuesday, March 17.  We'll go team-by-team based on current records.

Fresno State (19-10)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  6 (Texas, Oklahoma State, Rutgers, Cal State Northridge, Fordham, San Diego). 
Losses to teams with current losing records:  None.

Analysis:  The Bulldogs are in good shape heading into conference play, combining a nice array of victories with the fact there is nothing resembling a bad loss in there.  Eight of the Bulldogs' 10 losses are to teams either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes, and all 10 defeats have come to teams with current winning records.  Fresno State's win over Texas (18-8 overall, 3-0 in the Big 12) stands out as the best non-conference victory in the Mountain West at this point.  A 16-4 rout of Oklahoma State continues to look better as the Cowgirls have won eight of their past nine games.  The Bulldogs also own the MW's most under-appreciated quality win:  a 3-2 victory over a Cal State Northridge team off to its best start in two decades at 21-8 overall.  Not shown here is a Bulldog win over Stanford.  While the Cardinal stands at .500 (14-14), any win over the Pac-12 must be considered a quality win.  A big plus for Trisha Ford's team:  It is the conference's only team not to be run-ruled this year, and the 'Dogs have kept the nation's top teams in check, falling just 4-1 to then-No. 1 Florida and 3-0 to 2nd-ranked Oregon.  Fresno State has missed a few opportunities for big wins that would've practically labeled the Bulldogs an NCAA lock.  They lost a 3-run lead in a loss to Cal and were tied late with 15th-ranked Minnesota in a 3-1 defeat.  To summarize though, the quality schedule and quality wins are there for a possible NCAA at-large berth, provided Fresno State doesn't win the Mountain West title outright.  No team, the Bulldogs included, should want to leave that decision in the hands of the NCAA selection committee, however.

San Jose State (19-11)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  3 (BYU, Idaho State, San Diego).
Losses to teams with current losing records: None.

Analysis:  The Spartans enter conference play with 19 wins, but with a lack of quality victories.  The win over a 17-7 BYU team came on the first day of the 2015 season and will likely end up being San Jose State's top non-conference win of the season.  The Spartans' only other wins over teams with current winning records came against Idaho State (16-14) and San Diego (14-12).  San Jose State has one win this season over a team from a Power 5 conference -- and that victory is over Iowa, which is now just 8-20 overall.  In many ways, San Jose State has won the games most people thought the Spartans would win, and lost the games most predicted they would lose.  SJSU has played an overall quality schedule, but lacking the bite of some other teams in the conference.  Hurting SJSU are five run-rule losses, including a surprising 14-0, five-inning loss to New Mexico State of the WAC.  Arizona, Hawai'i, Florida and Michigan have all handed the Spartans run-rule defeats this year.  To summarize, the overall schedule is certainly better than average, but the lack of quality non-conference wins is a concern should San Jose State need a potential NCAA at-large bid.

San Diego State (17-11)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  7 (Purdue twice, Idaho State, Iowa State, North Dakota St., Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton).
Losses to teams with current losing records:  1 (UConn).

Analysis:  The Aztecs suffered their only truly bad loss of the season yesterday, falling at home 11-4 to UConn (8-13).  But there are other potential signs of worry related to a possible NCAA at-large bid this time around if the Aztecs should need one.  Unlike in seasons past, SDSU hasn't always been competitive against quality opposition.  There's a 10-0 (five inning) run-rule loss to a Nebraska team that has been one of the nation's biggest disappointments.  The Huskers began the season ranked 18th in the country, but currently stand at .500 overall.  The Aztecs were outscored 42-4 in run-rule losses to Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor and Nebraska.  The best win for SDSU came over Oregon State, which is currently 19-9 overall.  The Aztecs will even get two more chances to beat the Beavers, who make a return trip to San Diego at the end of the regular season.  Unlike most other MW teams, San Diego State gets numerous chances for quality victories on its home field.  Wins over Cal State Fullerton (20-12) and North Dakota State (18-5) will carry weight.  Luckily for the Aztecs, it's doubtful the NCAA selection committee has the time to look into box scores and discover that NDSU went the distance with freshman pitcher Jacquelyn Sertic in that game rather than senior ace Krista Meinke (14-2), or that the Titans, for a portion of that game, went with a first-time pitcher who'd been used almost exclusively as a pinch runner this season.  The Aztecs cleverly scheduled two games against a Purdue team that will not have to face either Michigan or Ohio State in Big Ten play this season due to that conference's rotating schedule.  By missing six games (two 3-game series) versus those two powers, Purdue has an outstanding chance at a high finish in Big Ten play and a glossy overall record to help its own RPI, and, in turn, the Aztecs'.  The same situation goes for Iowa State.  SDSU owns a win over a Cyclones team that looks great on paper due to ISU's 16-9 overall record.  A closer look reveals Iowa State's record was built upon playing -- and beating -- the likes of South Dakota State (twice), Incarnate Word, SE Louisiana, Grand Canyon, University of North Dakota, Boston U., Coastal Carolina (twice), St. Bonaventure, etc.  For scheduling gurus and those who pay close attention and dissect results (a la the NCAA men's basketball selection committee this season when it shunned Colorado State), this is an interesting situation.  Read this excellent article by Matt L. Stephens at The Coloradoan for more on the subject and how it relates to the NCAA Tournament selection process. Luckily for SDSU, the NCAA committee in softball in recent seasons has gone exclusively with the RPI.  We'll see what happens this year.

Colorado State (18-13)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  None.
Losses to teams with current losing records:  1 (UTEP).

Analysis:  The term "paper tiger" could apply here.  The Rams have 18 wins, just one shy of the most by a Mountain West team in non-conference play.  Not a single one of those wins, however, has come against a team that owns a winning record through games of March 17.  That's not to say Colorado State hasn't beaten anyone of note.  The Rams have a win over Texas Tech, which currently stands at .500.  The Red Raiders, though, often play one of the worst non-conference schedules in the nation among power 5 conference teams and this year is no different.  CSU's best wins this season have come over the likes of middling teams like Drake and Texas-Arlington, both of whom sit at .500.  Colorado State has played some of the country's worst teams.  Two wins have come over an IPFW team that currently stands at 0-18.  Two other wins came over Valparaiso, whose 6-14 record doesn't seem all that awful until you realize one-third of Valpo's wins (2 of 6) have come over IPFW.  Two more wins by CSU came over Iona, which has lost 11 of 13 games this season and competes in one of the country's lowest-rated conferences, the Metro Atlantic.  It's not all terrible news for Colorado State, even though it may seem that way.  The Rams have taken on some good competition, notably Texas twice, Arizona, Minnesota, Arizona State and Cal State Northridge.  CSU has lost all of those games, however.  The loss to UTEP stands out as a truly bad one.  The Miners are 8-22 overall.

New Mexico (16-12)

Wins over teams with current winning records: 3 (Rutgers, San Diego, Charleston).
Losses to teams with current losing records:  6 (Utah Valley, Seattle, Illinois, Georgia Southern twice, Cal State Bakersfield)

Analysis:  The Lobos have been very up and down this season.  And that's an improvement from a year ago when they were almost exclusively down.  Predicted to finish last in the Mountain West during the preseason, UNM has been a pleasant surprise for the most part.  There are, however, some troubling losses, but let's first focus on the positive.  New Mexico split a pair with a Rutgers team that looks fairly solid.  A true road win at the College of Charleston is better than it seems to the casual observer.  And a win over USD came on the same weekend that the Toreros pulled an upset of nationally-ranked Arizona State in Tempe.  So it's safe to say that UNM is improved this season and is not a guaranteed win for any opponent.  Now the downside:  Being swept in a doubleheader by Georgia Southern is a huge disappointment.  The Eagles have won just six of 25 games this season and two came over the Lobos.  Losing at home in Albuquerque to Cal State Bakersfield is a tough pill to swallow, and losses to Utah Valley and Seattle can't be considered anything other than disappointing.  Overall, the schedule has been lackluster, but with so little expected of UNM entering this season, one can hardly blame New Mexico for easing the slate a bit.  The team's confidence appears to have risen this season and that's a good thing in the long run.

UNLV (14-14)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  5 (Louisville, Northwestern, Idaho State, LA-Monroe, Iowa State.)
Losses to teams with current losing records:  1 (UConn).

Analysis:  The Rebels have played an impressive schedule, albeit mostly at home with four different tournaments being hosted in Las Vegas.  It was only in the last week, with UNLV's top two pitchers being unavailable, that the Rebels began to slip.  Northwestern has moved a game above .500 at 11-10 overall, and Louisville is 13-7.  The Rebels beat both in Las Vegas and those victories could carry some weight as the season goes along.  UNLV must be careful to remain over .500 itself, though, and not fall too far back in the Mountain West race if it hopes to have any NCAA at-large potential in May.  A 3-game road series at Cal looms big in April.  UNLV has won just two games away from home this season, standing at 2-9 away from Eller Media Stadium.  There are several quality losses (Washington, Minnesota, Notre Dame, etc.), and some missed chances as well.  The Rebels lost a pair to New Mexico State (both times by shutout) and were also shut out by the likes of Weber State.

Nevada (9-18)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  3 (Fordham, Idaho State, Cal State Fullerton).
Losses to teams with current losing records:  7 (Portland State, Seattle, Long Beach State, Syracuse, Northern Colorado twice, Southern Illinois)

Analysis:  The Wolf Pack have three wins this season over teams that currently possess winning records.  Only one of those -- a March 8 victory to salvage the final game of a 3-game series with Idaho State -- occurred over the past month.  The losses to Long Beach State and Syracuse appear worse than they really are.  Both are quality teams, but have struggled.  The 49ers, in particular, have a losing record because of a difficult schedule.  There are mystifying losses, however.  Losing twice to Northern Colorado is bad, especially when one considers the Bears have won a total of just five games this season.  Since beating Nevada in back-to-back games on February 27 and 28, Northern Colorado is winless. 

Utah State (7-16)

Wins over teams with current winning records: 2 (Michigan State, Weber State).
Losses to teams with current losing records: 5 (South Dakota State twice, Long Beach State twice, Montana)

Analysis:  The Aggies have been a disappointment this season -- moreso by us than the conference coaches, who selected Utah State to finish eighth in the preseason.  We expected more and forecast Steve Johnson's club to be the Mountain West's most improved team in 2015.  That hasn't been the case so far.  The schedule has been better than some other teams in the conference, but USU hasn't done too much with it.  The season started off on the wrong foot with two losses to woeful South Dakota State at the Cyclone Indoor Invitational in Ames.  We blame it on playing indoors.  The Jackrabbits have won just three games since that initial weekend in early February when they beat Utah State twice.  There have been signs of progress in spurts, and this weekend's series with New Mexico will tell us which of those two teams will play a role in determining the Mountain West title and which one won't.

Boise State (8-22)

Wins over teams with current winning records:  1 (Weber State).
Losses to teams with current losing records:  9 (Seton Hall, North Texas, Long Beach State, Portland State, Seattle, St. Mary's, DePaul, Cal State Bakersfield twice).

Analysis:  The fall has been swift for the Broncos.  Boise State entered the final weekend of the 2014 season with a 30-19 overall record and looking for a Mountain West title and NCAA berth.  This year, the Broncos will enter conference play already with 22 losses and a 7-game losing streak.  There are no real wins of note so far, but there are many painful defeats.  Boise State has been on the verge of wins this season and fallen apart right at the end with heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss.  One gets the feeling that things could turn around at any moment, but it hasn't happened yet.  The Broncos are 10 shy of the school record for most losses in a season (32, set in 2010).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TUESDAY: Aztecs routed at home by UConn 11-4

In the only game involving a Mountain West softball team on Tuesday, San Diego State found itself on the wrong end of a surprising blowout.  The Aztecs lost at home 11-4 to UConn, which entered the day just 7-13 overall.  Erica Romero started the game but didn't make it out of the first inning as the Huskies scored eight runs on seven hits in the frame.  It was their highest-scoring inning of the season.  The first six UConn batters of the game reached base safely against Romero as two singles and a fielder's choice loaded the bases for Alyson Ambler, who delivered the biggest hit of the game.  Ambler's grand slam made it 4-0 mere moments into the contest.  Two UConn doubles would follow, along with two of the five errors San Diego State would commit in the game.  After Romero hit a batter and three more runs had crossed the plate, the Huskies' sixth hit of the first inning prompted Kathy Van Wyk to switch to Sydnee Cable in the circle.  A walk and RBI single greeted Cable, and a 2-run homer followed in the second inning as UConn pushed the lead to 10-0 and the Aztecs fell behind in a big way early.  SDSU tried to rally and got a home run from Kayla Jordan along the way but it wouldn't be enough as the Huskies had season-highs in hits and runs with 14 and 11, respectively.  San Diego State fell to 17-11 overall.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SUNDAY: Non-conference play concludes for most MW teams

Teams said goodbye to the non-conference season Sunday and braced for upcoming Mountain West play, which begins this week.  Some went out with a bang and picked up a quality win, while others floundered.  And while a few non-conference games still remain to be played here and there, the overwhelming majority of them are now behind us.  Let's take a look at Sunday's results.

Closing out a 4-1 weekend, Fresno State bounced back from a narrow loss to 16th-ranked Minnesota with a decisive 4-1 victory over Cal Poly.  The Bulldogs pounded out 11 hits and got a complete-game 5-hitter from Jill Compton, who earned her 11th win.  Brenna Moss moved her batting average to a staggering .500 with two more hits before being intentionally walked, a move that backfired on the Mustangs (14-16).  Malia Rivers had three hits and Michelle Solomon and Katie Castellon had two apiece as Fresno State improved to a Mountain West-best 19-10 overall ... New Mexico completed a busy 4-3 weekend with a 3-1 victory over Wisconsin (13-13) in Charleston, S.C.  Krissy Fortner earned the start and got the win, the 16th of the season for the Lobos against 12 losses.  The 16 wins matched UNM's 2014 season total when the team went 16-36 ... San Jose State suffered its worst loss of the season, falling 14-0 in five innings to New Mexico State to complete the San Diego Classic II.  The Spartans had just two hits -- both singles -- and gave up three early home runs as they lost their fifth run-rule game this year.  NMSU's Fiana Finau hit 3-run homers in both the first and second innings, and Kelsey Dodd hit a grand slam in the fourth as the Aggies (18-9) had 13 hits ... UNLV, with its top two pitchers sidelined again, took on 15th-ranked Baylor and suffered another shutout loss.  Baylor (19-6) won 8-0 in five innings and UNLV's scoreless streak has now reached 25 consecutive innings.  The Rebels had just three hits and were never in this one.  UNLV scored in the first inning of its first game on Friday morning vs. UConn, but never scored again during the weekend tournament and finished 0-4 ... Utah State completed its run in San Diego with a 1-0 win over Harvard (3-9).  A fielder's choice in the fourth inning scored the game's lone run and USU may have caught a break in the sixth.  Harvard got a leadoff single followed by a ground-rule double that prevented the tying run from scoring.  With one out, the Crimson tried to score on a wild pitch from Noelle Johnson, but the runner was ruled out at home.  Johnson allowed six hits in a complete-game win ... In Reno, Nevada picked up an 8-2 victory over St. Mary's for a second win this weekend over the Gaels.  It marked the Wolf Pack's fifth consecutive win at home and completed a 4-0 week.  St. Mary's (9-18) committed four errors leading to four unearned runs and the Pack got two hits apiece from Jasmine Jenkins, Megan Sweet and Ashley Butera ... Colorado State split a pair, beginning the day with a 10-2 win over Iona College (2-9) to run its winning streak to 11 straight.  With 10 of those 11 victories coming against teams with losing records, it would prove interesting to see how the Rams would fare in the nightcap, facing their first opponent in 14 days to possess a winning overall record.  Colorado State saw its streak come to an end with a 6-2 loss to Cal State Northridge as Holly Reinke took the loss.  The Matadors, who lost to Fresno State earlier this season, improved to 21-8 ... A rough weekend came to a merciful end for Boise State, which was swept in a doubleheader at Cal State Bakersfield.  The Roadrunners won the opener 4-1 and the nightcap 9-1 in five innings as the Broncos lost for the seventh straight time.  Boise State will enter Mountain West play this week with an 8-22 record, matching their total number of losses for the entire 2014 season.  The Broncos, who have lost 10 of their last 11 games, gave up 20 hits in 12 innings to Cal State Bakersfield (11-12).

Saturday, March 14, 2015

SATURDAY: Missed opportunities in Top 25 games for MW teams

Three Mountain West teams play Top 25 opponents today.  Fresno State takes on its fifth ranked opponent in the last week in 16th-ranked Minnesota (20-4).  That game takes place at Margie Wright Diamond at 6 pm Saturday night.  San Jose State and Utah State will both meet 15th-ranked Baylor (16-6) in San Diego Saturday afternoon.  For the Spartans, it's their fourth ranked opponent in the last nine days.  For the Aggies, it's their second ranked foe this season and comes one month to the day that they lost to then-12th ranked UCLA.

No. 15 Baylor 3, San Jose State 1 - This one was similar in many ways to the game Fresno State played against Baylor just six days ago.  San Jose State had 11 hits, just as the Bulldogs did versus the Bears, but with the same painful storyline:  a big clutch hit proved elusive.  Just like Fresno State on Sunday, the Spartans stranded 12 base runners.  In the second inning, SJSU left the bases loaded, but the biggest opportunity came in the fourth.  The Spartans were able to grab a 1-0 lead in that inning, but blew a much bigger chance.  Emma Entzminger, Nicole Schultz and Michelle Cox all hit singles (two of the infield variety) to begin that crucial bottom of the fourth.  After an error on a fielder's choice scored the game's first run and gave the Spartans a lead, SJSU had the bases loaded with no outs and their top power threats on deck.  Looking to break the game wide open, the Spartans unfortunately saw Baylor strike out Jessie Hufstetler on a swinging third strike before Sharon-Renae Estrada hit into an inning-ending double play as Schultz tried to score from third base.  SJSU pitcher Allison Lang scattered eight hits and got out of several late jams to keep the Spartans in it.  Baylor left the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, and SJSU threatened again in the bottom of the frame.  Bears pitcher Heather Stearns got a pop up and strike out to end the game as SJSU left runners at second and third.  Baylor improved to 17-6 overall with the win.

No. 16 Minnesota 3, Fresno State 1 - This one was similar to most Bulldog losses this season:  a case of missed opportunities and blown chances.  Facing reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Sara Groenewegen, who entered with a 1.05 ERA and 12-2 record, Fresno State had more than a few chances to not only score, but break open a tight game.  The Bulldogs left the bases loaded in both the third and fifth innings, and several times had the tying and go-ahead runs on base and often in scoring position.  Brenna Moss, the Mountain West's leading hitter entering the game, continued her hot streak, going 3-for-4 against Groenewegen. In the second, Moss and Malia Rivers both singled and Michelle Solomon walked to load the bases.  Cleanup batter Kierra Willis struck out to end that inning.  An inning later, Fresno State tied it 1-1 as Paige Gumz doubled and scored on a triple by Bria Kennedy.  With Kennedy on third base with one out, freshman Katie Castellon (replacing hot-hitting third baseman Alyssa Villalpando, who's been out of the lineup for the last two days) bunted into a double play on what appeared to be a botched suicide squeeze that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.  The next inning, the Bulldogs blew another golden opportunity.  With the bases loaded and just one out following a hit-by-pitch, walk and Moss single, Willis struck out again.  Gumz then popped up to end the threat.  In the seventh, Moss doubled to the wall in left with one out, but the game was over just three pitches later after quick groundouts.  Jill Compton threw another impressive game with seven strikeouts and no walks, albeit in a losing effort.  Minnesota improved to 21-4 overall with the victory.

No. 15 Baylor 6, Utah State 5 - The Bears chose to start sophomore transfer pitcher Brooke Seneshen, who'd thrown just 25 innings this season, and the Aggies almost made the Bears pay.  Baylor struggled defensively from the outset, committing a pair of errors in the first inning that gave the Aggies a quick 1-0 lead.  In the bottom of the first, the Bears pushed five runs across on four hits, but USU pitcher Noelle Johnson managed to avoid further damage as Baylor left the bases loaded.  Utah State scored a pair of runs on three singles to cut the margin to 5-3 an inning later, and USU wasn't done yet.  The Aggies scored a pair in the top of the third, including one on an RBI single by Johnson, to tie it up at 5-5.  Baylor went back on top in the bottom of the frame with a run on four hits and again left the bases loaded.  The Bears stranded eight base runners in the first four innings of the game alone.  There was no scoring from that point on in the game, but USU threatened in the sixth but blew a big chance.  After Nicole Arata was hit by a pitch, Sarah Chow doubled.  Arata tried to score the tying run but was thrown out at the plate.  Instead of two runners in scoring position with just one out, there were now two outs and a runner at second.  Utah State would find out just how crushing that attempt to score was when the next batter, Jolene Koons, reached on an error as Chow advanced to third.  Hailey Froton struck out with the tying run at third base to end that frame and the Aggies didn't have another base runner in the game.  Baylor improved to 18-6.

Elsewhere:  New Mexico began the day with a 7-5 loss to Furman, despite outhitting the Paladins 11 to five, but the Lobos bounced back for a split by defeating College of Charleston 7-4 ... Colorado State picked up an 8-1 win over Bryant University and later an 8-0 win in five innings over Buffalo in one one of those "only in softball" type outings.  The Rams were out-hit seven to six in the rout ... Boise State suffered a pair of tough-luck losses. There was a 2-1 loss to Charleston Southern when the Bucs hit a 2-run homer in the sixth to erase a deficit.  And then, one strike away from a win, the Broncos gave up a solo home run in the 7th to DePaul, and the Blue Demons went on for a 6-5 win in eight innings.  DePaul, which hadn't won a game in exactly three weeks, snapped its own long losing streak ... Nevada picked up two home victories: a 5-4 win over St. Mary's, which scored three in the seventh and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate; and a 6-2 win over Portland State ... Long Beach State (13-18 overall) erupted for 13 runs in the top of the fifth for a 16-3 run-rule rout over Utah State ... In late-night action, San Diego State picked up a 10-4 win late Saturday over Santa Clara, and San Jose State came back from its loss to Baylor with a 3-0 victory over Harvard.

Friday, March 13, 2015

FRIDAY: Tourney action continues around the Mountain West

All nine Mountain West softball teams were in action on the final Friday before conference play begins next week. 

Fresno State 5, Montana 1 - In her first start of the season in the circle, Bulldog junior pitcher Taylor Langdon tossed a complete-game 5-hitter as Fresno State won its third straight game.  Langdon improved to 3-0 this season, with her other two wins coming in earlier relief appearances.  It was not only her first start of the year, but just her second since her freshman season when she started five games.  The Bulldogs got their offense going midway through the game and got a 2-run home run from Kierra Willis in a 3-run fifth.  In the third, Fresno State took a 2-0 lead with the help of two Grizzlies errors and a run-scoring single by Paige Gumz.  Freshman Chase LeeHong, who had four hits on Thursday, added an RBI double in the fifth.  Langdon struck out two and did not walk a batter in the contest against the first-year NCAA Division I program.  Box score

Baylor 12, San Diego St. 2 (5 innings) - The hometown Aztecs could do little to stop the Bears in a run-rule rout at San Diego Classic II.  Baylor started off with a bang against San Diego State pitcher Erica Romero and never let up as the Bears scored in every inning.  Romero wasn't around for the end as SDSU used three different pitchers, with Sydnee Cable entering the game, then being replaced briefly again by Romero before Andi Smith finished it out.  Hot-hitting Baylor, which had lost four of its last six games entering Friday, pounded out 15 hits.  Romero went 2 2/3, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits, while Cable went 1 1/3 and gave up five hits and four runs (two earned).  Smith allowed four hits and a pair of earned runs in the final inning of mop-up duty with the game well out of hand.  As lopsided as the final score was, it could've been worse as Baylor left nine runners aboard and had the bases loaded four times in five innings.  SDSU had four hits.

New Mexico 6, Memphis 1 - The teams combined for eight errors, with the Lobos committing five that didn't come back to haunt them in Charleston, SC.  Pitcher Lisa Rodrigues picked up her first win of the season and also had four hits and three RBI against the Tigers (7-9).  Rodrigues helped her own cause early with a 2-run double that highlighted a 3-run third inning.  A Tigers error aided the Lobos in that frame.  New Mexico increased its lead in the fifth and sixth.  In the fifth, it was Rodrigues again doing it with an RBI single.  An inning later, a dropped fly ball by Memphis added another UNM run.  Mariah Rimmer had two hits and scored a pair of runs for the victorious Lobos.  Box score

San Jose St. 15, Utah Valley 0 (6 innings) - The Wolverines committed seven errors and the Spartans rolled to an easy win in San Diego.  Madison Fish tossed the first five innings and allowed one hit while walking five batters and striking out nine.  Berlyn Rippentrop came on to pitch a scoreless sixth.  This game had it all.  Despite the wild and lopsided score, there was just one extra-base hit in the game -- and it came in the strangest way possible:  a bunt double by Michelle Cox.  SJSU scored in almost every way imaginable, taking a 4-0 lead in the third on a wild pitch, a passed ball, and twice on separate Utah Valley errors.  The Wolverines had five errors in the third inning alone.  An 11-run sixth, aided by two more UVU errors, broke the game open as SJSU had nine RBI singles in the frame.  Cox, Jessica Madrid, Jessie Hufstetler and Sharon-Renae Estrada had big games.  Estrada had four RBI, Hufstetler three, and Madrid and Cox had three hits each.  UVU (9-14) lost to the Spartans for a second time this season.  Box score

San Jose St. 12, San Diego 6 - The Spartans scored eight runs in the first inning and never looked back in a win over the Toreros.  SJSU was out-hit in the game 14 to 10, but the 8-run first inning (on just four singles) was too much for USD.  It was an instant meltdown for the Toreros in that decisive first inning as USD pitchers issued a pair of walks, hit two batters, threw two wild pitches with runners aboard and the Toreros also committed an infield error.  Allison Lang went the distance and got the win despite allowing all 14 hits and six runs.  Michelle Cox had three hits and Alyssa Martinez two hits and three RBI.  Emma Entzminger's double was the Spartans' lone extra-base hit.  USD dropped to 14-13 overall.  Box score

New Mexico 9, Marist 2 - In Charleston, the Lobos easily dispatched of the Red Foxes (4-7) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.  Shelbie Franc had three hits, and Gabrielle Stacey and Michala Erickson two apiece in a victory behind pitcher Tess McPherson.  Entering the game with an ERA over 10.00, McPherson lowered it to 6.05 by allowing six hits and two earned runs against the preseason favorite from what is traditionally considered one of the nation's weakest conferences.  Franc finished with three RBI, as did Chelsea Johnson, who delivered a bases-loaded double.  New Mexico will now enter the day on Saturday looking for its 15th and 16th wins of the year, which would tie the Lobos' win mark for all of last season.  Box score

Nebraska 11, Boise State 3 (6 innings) -  In Fullerton, the Broncos tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fourth, only to see the Huskers erupt the rest of the way in a rout.  Freshman Rachel Rodriguez started for Boise State and allowed eight hits and six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings before giving way to Nicole Wilson.  The Broncos took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Makenzie Sullivan hit a 2-run homer, her fifth round-tripper of the year.  Sullivan had three of BSU's five hits in the contest, which marked the team's fifth loss in six games.  Nebraska, which began the season ranked in the top 25, improved to 10-11 overall.  Box score

Colorado State 6, Iona College 0 - The Rams beat the Gaels in Northridge behind the second career win by freshman pitcher Trinity Harrington, who tossed a 3-hitter.  Iona College, of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, has won just one game this season.  Taylor Hutton and Haley David both had two hits to lead CSU, which won its eighth straight game.  During that 8-game win streak, the Rams have beaten UT-Arlington, UN-Omaha, Drake, Valparaiso and Iona College.  Box score

UConn 3, UNLV 2 - In San Diego, the Rebels suffered a 1-run loss at the hands of the Huskies (6-10).  All of the action and runs came in the first two innings of this one.  UNLV moved out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.  Samantha Juarez stole home on a perfectly-executed double steal, while the second run scored on one of three UConn errors in the game.  The Huskies scored a pair of runs on three hits in the bottom of the first to tie it, and took the lead an inning later.  Lexi Gifford doubled to lead off the second and came home on an RBI single by Alyssa Gardea.  And that was it.  Janine Petmecky started and took the loss for UNLV.  Fahren Glackin came on in relief and three hitless innings, but the Rebels never could answer.  Box score

Weber State 7, UNLV 0 - The Rebels slipped to an 0-2 day in San Diego with a shutout loss to the Wildcats.  Petmecky got the start for a second straight game and was dealt the loss again.  In a box score oddity, the Rebels' top two pitchers this season - Kwyn Cooper and Morgan Ettinger - were absent from both games and did not pitch Friday.  The Rebels were held to just three hits in the game and now have won just two games away from Las Vegas this season.  Weber State (14-9) scored a pair of runs in the first inning and that was all the Wildcats would need.  WSU had a pair of extra-base hits and UNLV used three pitchers.  Box score

Cal State Fullerton 3, Boise State 0 - Hits were hard to come by for the Broncos, who lost their thirdd game of the season to the Titans in Fullerton.  Boise State had just three hits in the game and they came from both the top and bottom of the order.  Leadoff hitter Jordan Kreiger had two hits, while No. 9 batter Kayla Clausen had one.  The rest of the team, however, combined on an 0-for-16 night at the plate.  The Broncos had chances in this one, however.  Titans starting pitcher Christina Washington walked seven, but Boise State left nine runners on base.  BSU's best scoring chance came in the sixth when Washington walked the bases loaded and forced the Titans to turn to Desiree Ybarra in the circle.  A groundout endeded the threat.  Cal State Fullerton, which has outscored Boise State 20-4 in their three meetings this year with two shutouts, is now 16-12 on the season.  Box score

Nevada 8, Portland State 0 (6 innings) - The Wolf Pack shut out the Vikings as Megan Sweet had a big day at the plate in Reno.  Sweet hit a grand slam and finished with six RBI, while McKenna Isenberg picked up her second win of the season by allowing four hits.  Of Nevada's seven hits in the game, Sweet and Jasmine Jenkins had two each to lead the way.  Both teams ended the day with a total of six wins on the season -- Nevada is 6-18, while the Vikings are 6-16.  The Pack won consecutive games for the first time this season. Box score

Utah State 8, Santa Clara 1 - In San Diego, the Aggies picked up a win over the Broncos.  Both teams entered the day struggling with just five wins on the season but it was USU (6-14) that came out on top thanks to four extra-base hits, including a home run from Alleyah Armendariz.  Hailey Froton had three RBI, while Nicole Arata had three hits for Utah State.  Santa Clara (5-18) committed a pair of errors on a 90+ degree day in Southern California.  Noelle Johnson earned the complete-game win with a 6-hitter.  Box score

Thursday, March 12, 2015

THURSDAY: Fresno State sweeps, Aztecs split, Lobos lose 2

Six games took place Thursday in Mountain West softball action as three teams (Fresno State, New Mexico and San Diego State) all played a pair.  The Bulldogs became the first Mountain West team to 17 wins this season, sweeping a pair on Thursday.  San Diego State split two games at home, and the day got underway in the deep south as the Lobos lost twice to Georgia Southern in a neutral-site doubleheader in Charleston, South Carolina.

Fresno State 6, Providence 1 - The Bulldogs opened the Fresno State Classic with a win over the Friars of the Big East Conference as Hannah Harris pitched a complete-game 5-hitter.  The Bulldogs scored four runs in the fifth to snap a 1-1 tie, and pounded out 11 hits on offense in the win.  Brenna Moss, who led the Mountain West in batting average at .488 entering this game, reached base safely in three of four at-bats with a walk, double, and single in three at-bats.  Moss also stole two bases and scored a run.  Malia Rivers had three hits, including a double, and three RBI while also stealing a base.  Freshman Chase LeeHong, making a second consecutive start at first base, had the first 3-hit game of her career, going 3-for-3 with a double in a game where the Bulldogs did not commit an error.  Michelle Solomon hit a double and picked up her team-leading 28th RBI, and Kierra Willis had a double and three RBI.  Providence was coming off an 11-1 (5 innings) run-rule rout of South Dakota State earlier in the day.

Fresno State 1, Pacific 0 - Bulldog pitcher Jill Compton came out on top of an exciting pitcher's duel with Pacific's Dani Bonnet as Fresno State swept a pair Thursday.  Compton allowed only six hits in the shutout, her third straight against teams ranked outside the nation's Top 13.  In her last five starts, only 2nd-ranked Oregon and 8-time NCAA champion Arizona have been able to score against the junior right-hander.  Compton has pitched 19 consecutive scoreless innings against St. Mary's, Iowa and now Pacific.  In doing so Thursday, she out-dueled the reigning West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week in Bonnet, who earned the win in Pacific's upset Saturday over 9th-ranked Baylor.  Compton struck out five to pick up her 10th victory of the season, and retired the final seven in a row.  After Fresno State took the lead in the fifth, she did not allow a base runner the rest of the way.  The Bulldogs' run came in the fifth on a 2-out rally.  Solomon got things going with a single and moved to second on a walk to Willis.  Paige Gumz then delivered the game-winning hit with a hard liner to right.  Six different Bulldogs (Moss, Solomon, Gumz, LeeHong, Bria Kennedy and Whitney Smith) had hits in the game.  It was Fresno State's 80th all-time win in a series the Bulldogs control 80-24.

BYU 3, San Diego St. 1 - Cougars pitcher McKenna Bull had little trouble with the Aztecs' offense, pitching a complete-game 2-hitter as San Diego State lost its opening game of the San Diego Classic II.  BYU had seven hits off Erica Romero, who also tossed a complete game, but picked up her sixth loss of the season.  The Cougars snapped a 1-all tie with a pair of runs in the fifth.  A fielder's choice scored the go-ahead run before Sydney Broderick hit a 2-out RBI triple for BYU's third run.  San Diego State scored its only run on one of three Cougars errors in the game.  The recipient of three walks along with those three Cougars errors, SDSU was 0-for-11 with runners on base and 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the game.  BYU won back-to-back games on the opening day of this tourney, edging Long Beach State 2-1 in its opener.

San Diego St. 9, Long Beach St. 3 - Lorena Bauer had a home run and three RBI as the Aztecs bounced back for a split on their home field Thursday against the reeling 49ers, who lost for the eighth consecutive time.  It was San Diego State's second win in five days over Long Beach State, which was predicted to win the Big West in that league's preseason coaches poll.  But the 49ers have fallen on hard times of late.  In addition to losing eight in a row, Long Beach has suffered losses in 10 of its last 11 games and has won just 10 of 28 games this season.  The current 8-game losing streak is the longest for a 49ers softball team in 32 years when the 1983 team lost 12 in a row.  Long Beach started pitcher Lacey Alderman (0-2, 8.93 ERA), who'd tossed just 11 1/3 innings this season and she ended up being the loser after SDSU scored four in the first.  Kayla Bufardeci had two hits and three RBI, while Leia Ruiz had a hit and two RBI.  Romero allowed three earned runs in five innings of work to pick up the win.  

Georgia Southern 4-4, New Mexico 2-2 - The Eagles pulled a surprise with a doubleheader sweep of the Lobos, winning both games by 4-2 scores.  The first game went nine innings as the teams played with the international tiebreak rule in effect.  After both scored a run in the eighth, GSU scored twice in the ninth and then held off the Lobos in the bottom of the frame.  In game two, the Eagles scored two in the third and two more in the sixth to go in front 4-0.  New Mexico scored both of its runs in the seventh.  Mia Hignojos led off with a double and scored on an RBI double by Lisa Rodrigues.  With two outs, Brandi Heimburg's bunt single brought home Rodrigues.  Georgia Southern entered the day having won just four times in 20 previous games this season.  UNM (12-11) got a pair of hits in the nightcap from Rodrigues and Mariah Rimmer.