Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fresno State completes epic run to the MW title with 40th win

The Fresno State Bulldogs didn't back into the Mountain West softball title.  They reached out and grabbed hold of it five weeks and never let go, continuing an epic run to the crown when they were all but unstoppable.  In the end, the Bulldogs Saturday became the first Mountain West team to ever win as many as 20 games in a season in conference play, finishing 20-4, a full two games ahead of 3-time defending MW champ San Diego State in the final standings.

When Fresno State opens play in its 31st NCAA Tournament next week, the Bulldogs will be the first Mountain West team since 2010 to enter regional play already with 40 or more wins under its belt.  The Bulldogs are now 40-14 overall.

Fresno State crushed UNLV for a third day in a row, winning 12-4 and handing the Rebels their first 3-game sweep at home in Las Vegas in over three years.  The Bulldogs ran their winning streak to a season-high 11 straight games and will enter the NCAA tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country.

Coach Trisha Ford's squad has gone 16-1 in its last 17 games during an epic final two months of the season.  Fresno State is 25-5 in its last 30 games following a rigorous stretch where the Bulldogs played the Florida Gators, Oregon Ducks, Arizona Wildcats and Baylor Bears in back to back to back to back games over a mere 28-hour span on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Junior pitcher Jill Compton won her 28th game of the season as Fresno State's success with her in the circle continued.  Over Compton's last 15 starts, the Bulldogs are a perfect 15-0 following Saturday's win over the Rebels.

Elsewhere Saturday, San Diego State kept its NCAA at-large hopes alive -- and likely strengthened them -- with a 3-1 win over Oregon State.  San Jose State rebounded from an embarrassing Friday with an 8-0 win at New Mexico.  Colorado State won its road series at Nevada with a 5-3 win Saturday, while Utah State beat Boise State 3-2 to sweep that road series.

Fresno State 12, UNLV 4 - The Bulldogs reached double figures in runs and hits for the third day in a row in a rout of the Rebels in Las Vegas to complete the 3-game sweep.  Alyssa Villalpando, who totaled six hits Thursday and Friday, had a monster 4-for-5 game with a double and three RBI, for a .769 series batting average.  Michelle Solomon's standout weekend continued with a 3-hit, 3 RBI day, and senior Brenna Moss captured the Mountain West batting title for the season with another 3-hit day.  Moss was 3-for-4 and ended the regular season with a career-high 82 hits and .436 batting average to lead the conference in both categories.  Kierra Willis capped a stellar sophomore season by reaching base safely in all five plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with three walks and her league-leading ninth triple and two RBI.  Paige Gumz counted a double among her two hits with an RBI, and Whitney Smith added a double and two RBI as Fresno State wrapped up a sweep in which it scored 37 runs on 47 hits.  Jill Compton allowed three hits to earn the win in four innings of work, but all three were home runs including two by Alyssa Cordova.  At one point in the game, the Bulldogs trailed 4-3 despite out-hitting UNLV eight to three at the time.  But like earlier in the series, each time the Rebels scored, the Bulldogs answered immediately.  Fresno State scored nine unanswered runs to win going away, including six in the top of the fifth inning.  Taylor Langdon, who got the final out to wrap up the conference title Friday, pitched three nearly perfect innings Saturday.  Langdon (3-0 this season) allowed only one single over the final three frames.

San Jose St. 8, New Mexico 0 (5 innings) - In sharp contrast to Friday's 14-0 run-rule rout by the Lobos, it was the Spartans who picked up the run-rule win Saturday.  Madison Fish pitched a 1-hit shutout and the Spartans had 11 hits and got similar performances from a variety of players.  Five San Jose State players finished with two hits and four of them (Michelle Cox, Jessica Madrid, Emma Entzminger and Nicole Schultz) had nearly identical stat lines:  two hits and two RBI with a double.  Entzminger's two hits were a double and a solo home run, her first as a collegian.  Sharon-Renae Estrada had a pair of singles.  Fish allowed a single to Gabrielle Stacey in the first inning but shut the Lobos down the remainder of the way.

Utah State 3, Boise State 2 (8 innings) - A season full of 1-run losses came to a merciful halt for the Broncos with their second straight 1-run loss.  Utah State earned the series road sweep as Hailey Froton delivered a 2-run knock in the top of the eighth before a sacrifice fly narrowed the score in the bottom of the frame.

Colorado State 5, Nevada 3 - The Rams completed a very up and down season on an up note by taking two of three in Reno against the Wolf Pack.  Taylor Hutton's 2-run home run in the third inning was one of four extra-base hits for Colorado State.  Holly Reinke, who also earned the pitching win, had two doubles and two RBI.

San Diego State 3, Oregon State 1 - In non-league action in San Diego, the Aztecs won the only game of the series after Friday's game was rained out and cancelled.  That cancellation meant Oregon State is still alive for NCAA at-large consideration with a 26-26 overall record.  SDSU, which finished two games behind Mountain West champion Fresno State in the final conference standings, has a good shot at an NCAA at-large bid Sunday with a 36-18 record.  A 2-run home run by Jenavee Peres following a Beavers error in the sixth was the difference.  OSU's C.J. Chirichigno hit a home run in the seventh off winning pitcher Erica Romero.