Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bulldogs blast Spartans, move to brink of a MW championship

The numbers are just staggering at this point.  18 straight wins overall.  27 straight conference wins.  A 17-0 conference record.  And a perfect month in which it finished 15-0 during April.

No. 20 Fresno State, with perhaps the most prolific offense in Mountain West history, continues to roll.  The Bulldogs blasted San Jose State pitching for the second day in a row in San Jose to capture the series with a 13-7 win.  More importantly, Fresno State moved to the brink of the Mountain West regular-season championship and the automatic NCAA bid that goes along with it.

Coach Trisha Ford's Bulldogs reduced their magic number to one, and can claim the Mountain West title and accompanying NCAA bid Sunday by completing the series sweep.  It would be the team's sixth straight sweep this season and ninth straight over the last two years.

Fresno State extended the nation's current longest winning streak to 18 in a row, and also won its 27th straight Mountain West game spanning two seasons.  The Bulldogs also extended the best start in conference history, moving their record to 17-0 in league play and pushing San Jose State to the brink of elimination in the race for the title.  Fresno State owns a 6-game lead over SJSU with seven games left to play.  The 6-game lead is the largest margin ever held by a team in the 17 years of the Mountain West softball regular-season race.

Freshman Dominique Jackson delivered the biggest blow of the game with a grand slam in the top of the second inning as the Bulldogs stormed in front early and never looked back.

Fresno State has now scored 101 runs in eight conference road games this season, and is averaging nearly 13 runs per game in MW games away from Margie Wright Diamond.

Senior pitcher Taylor Langdon pitched 6 innings of relief, scattering seven hits, to pick up the first conference win of her career.  Langdon, who pitched a complete-game shutout last week at Pacific, is now 3-1 on the season.  And it's the second year in a row she's been successful after being called upon late in the year.  Langdon got the final out as Fresno State secured the Mountain West title last season in a road win at UNLV.

The Bulldogs can rack up their second straight MW championship with a win Sunday.

No. 20 Fresno State 13, San Jose St. 7 - In San Jose, the Bulldogs pounded the ball for the second day in a row, to clinch the series win against the Spartans and win their nation-leading 18th straight game.   It was the 27th straight Mountain West win for the streaking Bulldogs, who can wrap up the conference crown with a victory Sunday.  Fresno State's magic number for winning a second straight MW title is one.  Saturday, the Bulldogs pounded out 11 hits, including seven for extra-bases, against three Spartans pitchers.  Reigning MW Pitcher of the Week Katelyn Linford started for the second game in a row for San Jose State and exited early again, taking the loss by allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.  The Bulldogs went up 2-0 in the first as Alyssa Villalpando hit an RBI single, and a Spartans error scored Bria Kennedy, who walked.  In the bottom of the first, San Jose State took a brief 3-2 lead on three solo home runs against Bulldog freshman starting pitcher Kamalani Dung, who went just one-third of an inning.  Brittany Abacherli, Alyssa Martinez and Jessie Hufstetler all went deep with solo shots, and that was enough for coach Trisha Ford to call upon senior pitcher Taylor Langdon in relief.  Langdon, who had never won a MW game in her 4-year career, did what's she's always done in a Bulldog uniform: provide a needed, steady presence in the circle.  Langdon shut down the Spartans to get Fresno State out of the inning, and the Bulldogs' bats responded as they've done all season.  In the top of the second, Fresno State took the lead for good with a 6-run uprising.  Whitney Smith and Malia Rivers singled, and Kierra Willis tied the game with a 1-out double.  With two outs and a new Spartans pitcher (Colette Riggs) in the circle, a walk to Willmon put the Bulldogs up 4-3 before Dominique Jackson delivered the hit of the game.  The highly-touted freshman, who's already been featured in Sports Illustrated and, smacked her team-leading 11th home run of the season -- a grand slam -- that pushed the Bulldog margin to five runs as the numerous Fresno State fans in attendance in San Jose erupted.  An inning later, Whitney Smith went deep with her first home run of the season and third of her Bulldog career to start the inning, and Kennedy and Willis followed with doubles.  Willis' double off the wall scored Rivers, and continued a second-straight strong game.  After scoring three runs and reaching base in four of five plate appearances Friday, Willis reached base three times Saturday on a walk and two doubles, scoring three more runs and adding three RBI.  In the sixth, Kennedy belted a 2-out, 2-run triple, and the Bulldogs had 13 runs on the board.  Kennedy, Willis, Wilmon and Smith all had a pair of hits and Jackson finished with four RBI.  San Jose State has now lost four of its past five home games.  Abacherli's three hits and three RBI paced the Spartans.  Jill Compton came on in the seventh after two SJSU batters moved into scoring position with one out, and got the Bulldogs out of the jam quickly.  Fresno State now leads the all-time series with SJSU 86-12.  The two home runs hit by the Bulldogs moved them within three of tying the school record for most homers in a season -- 51, set in 2010.

New Mexico 7, Boise State 6 - In Boise, the Lobos jumped to a 5-run lead and held on for the win over the Broncos to clinch the series.  Michala Erickson homered and Mariah Rimmer had two hits, while Lauren Soles earned the victory.  Paige Reimann took the loss for BSU, which out-hit UNM 11 to eight.  For the second straight day, New Mexico was able to secure the win late when Boise State had the potential tying run on base in the seventh inning.  New Mexico has won five straight Mountain West road games.

Utah State 3, San Diego St. 0 - Alleyah Armendariz pitched a 6-hitter and Utah State scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings for the victory in San Diego.  The Aggies had 10 hits in the game and moved their record to 11-9 in conference play with the victory.  San Diego State, now 25-20 overall and 7-10 in MW play, saw its hopes for an at-large bid to a ninth straight NCAA tournament take a serious hit with the home loss.  SDSU,  the preseason second-place pick by MW coaches, fell to sixth place in the league, 10 games behind conference leader Fresno State in the standings.

Weather issues - A doubleheader between UNLV and Oklahoma State in Las Vegas was canceled by poor weather Saturday, as was a second attempt to get a game (or two) played in Fort Collins between Colorado State and Nevada.

Friday, April 29, 2016

No. 20 Fresno State can't be stopped in 11-5 road win over Spartans

Our earlier preview of this weekend's series between No. 20 Fresno State and San Jose State proved to be eerily accurate.  In it, we wrote of the Bulldogs:  "Simply put, they can come back against you, but no one has been able to come back against them."  We pointed to the Bulldogs' impressive habit of being able to come from behind for numerous wins this season, while simultaneously being unbeaten (20-0) when carrying a lead into the fourth inning.

And that's exactly what happened Friday in San Jose.  The Bulldogs spotted the Spartans a 3-run lead, but little did San Jose State know:  Fresno State had the Spartans right where it wanted them.  The Bulldogs came roaring back, scoring 10 of the game's final 11 runs for an 11-5 thumping at SJSU Field.

The Bulldogs kept their nation-leading 17-game winning streak intact and continued the best conference start ever for a Mountain West team by improving to 16-0.  Fresno State stretched its lead in the conference standings to five full games over the second-place Spartans with eight left to play.  It's the largest lead ever for one team in the MW softball standings, and the Bulldogs pushed their winning streak in conference play to 26 games, spanning two seasons.

No. 20 Fresno State 11, San Jose St. 5 - In San Jose, the Bulldogs got a complete-game win from pitcher Jill Compton, and scored three runs in the fourth inning and five more in the fifth to power past the host Spartans.  Sporting a league-leading .391 team batting average in conference play, Fresno State had 10 hits Friday and threatened in every inning except the first.  In the second the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead as Alyssa Villalpando walked, Lindsey Willmon singled, and Dominique Jackson hit an RBI single to score Villalpando.  SJSU responded with a 2-out, RBI double by Emma Entzminger in the bottom of the second following a hit-by-pitch.  An inning later, the Spartans took a 4-1 lead on a 3-run homer by freshman Madison Aurin, following a single and another hit-by-pitch.  The Bulldogs were staring at a 3-run road deficit for the first time in 38 days, but they answered back quickly.  Paige Gumz doubled off the wall in left-center, and Willmon followed with her 10th home run of the season, tying Jackson for the team lead.  Trailing 4-3 entering the fifth, Fresno State scored five runs to go on top for good, and a costly Spartans error played a big role.  Pitcher Colette Riggs, on a 2-out comebacker off the bat of Willmon with two runners on base, threw wildly to first base, allowing Kierra Willis, who walked, to score.  Riggs had just entered the previous inning in place of Spartans starting pitcher Katelyn Linford, who was fresh off of MW Pitcher of the Week honors this week but unable to make it out of the fourth inning against the red-hot Bulldogs.  Fresno State took advantage and the floodgates opened.  Riggs hit freshman pinch-hitter Morgan Howe to force in a run, and SJSU coach Peter Turner turned to the Spartans' third pitcher of the game, Emily Rogers.  Immediately, Rogers hit the Bulldogs' Whitney Smith to force in another run and Fresno State's lead was 6-4.  With San Jose State reeling, Bria Kennedy hit a medium-deep RBI single to score two more runs as the Bulldogs plated five in the inning.  In the bottom of the fifth, SJSU cut the margin to three on a solo home run by Alyssa Martinez, but it would be the last run the Spartans would score against Compton, who improved to 12-0 in conference play and 21-4 overall.  Compton scattered eight hits in the game, with only Jessica Madrid (three) having a multi-hit game for SJSU.  Fresno State added a run in the sixth as Willis singled and the Spartans committed a second error.  In the seventh, Villalpando (the Mountain West leader in RBI) delivered the knockout blow with a 2-out, 2-run single for the game's final, 6-run margin.  Fresno State can reduce its magic number for winning the conference title and automatic NCAA bid to one with a victory Saturday in the series.  The Bulldogs now own an 85-12 record in the all-time series with the Spartans, including a 39-8 mark in games played in San Jose.  Willis reached base in each of her final four at-bats for Fresno State, scoring runs in three consecutive innings (the fifth, sixth and seventh).  She had a pair of hits and three runs scored.  Willmon and Villalpando both finished with two hits and two RBI, while Kennedy had two RBI.  The 6-run margin of defeat is the largest for San Jose State at home this season.  In fact, the last time the Spartans were defeated by more runs at home:  More than two years ago, when Ford's 2014 Fresno State team did it with an 8-1 Bulldog victory.  Compton's win today was the 84th of her career, moving her into a tie for seventh place all-time in Fresno State history alongside 3-time All-American Carie Dever.

San Diego St. 5, Utah State 4 - In San Diego, the host Aztecs scored four runs in a wild fifth inning to come from a 3-1 deficit for the win over the Aggies.  Utah State took the lead in the top of the fifth by scoring three runs, with two of them coming on a home run off the bat of Kylie Rose Dickson.  The lead would be short-lived as San Diego State got a 3-run home run from Molly Sturdivant in the bottom of the inning to go back in front.  Erica Romero earned the win, tossing the first six innings.  Alex Formby picked up the save by pitching the seventh inning, when Utah State brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate.  Noelle Johnson took the loss for the Aggies.

New Mexico 6, Boise State 3 - Chelsea Johnson tied a Mountain West record with three home runs in a conference game, leading the Lobos to the road win in Boise.  All six New Mexico runs scored on homers as Johnson hit a solo shot in the second, and she and Jade Gray each hit solo shots in the sixth.  Those two home runs in the sixth inning brought UNM to a 3-all tie.  In the top of the seventh, Johnson -- with two outs -- made Boise State regret pitching to her again.  The Lobos catcher launched her third home run of the day -- a 3-run shot to right-center -- to snap the tie and send UNM on to victory.  Nicole Wilson went the distance for Boise State, allowing all four home runs.  The Broncos hit one, with Kayla Clausen's 2-run blast giving BSU the lead in the fifth.  Tess McPherson earned the win, and Krissy Fortner the save.  Johnson's three home runs tied the record for HRs in a Mountain West game with three other players.  The most recent time was also in Boise, just a year ago against this same Broncos team, when San Diego State's Lorena Bauer did it.

Mountain West title, NCAA automatic bid could be decided this weekend

The Mountain West regular-season title and the NCAA automatic bid that goes along with it could be decided as early as Sunday.

It would be the earliest the conference champion has ever been crowned in Mountain West play, since there are still two full weekends of action left after this one.  No. 20 Fresno State (15-0 MW, 34-9-1 overall) currently holds a 4-game lead over second-place San Jose State (11-4, 22-21) in the race for the MW title.  Those two meet in San Jose for three games Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with all three starting at noon.

The 4-game lead for the Bulldogs is the biggest for any softball team in Mountain West history at this point in the season and no team has won the MW title by more than four games in history.  In fact, only one team has ever won the regular-season MW championship by four games.  That team:  the 2007 BYU Cougars, who share a lot of similarities to this 2016 Fresno State team currently in first place.

Like the Bulldogs, the 2007 BYU team had a 16-game winning streak in late April.  That Cougars team was 15-1 at home during the regular season.  Fresno State's current home record:  the same -- 15-1.

Coach Trisha Ford's team has swept eight consecutive 3-game conference series, spanning two seasons, and won 25 Mountain West games in a row.  If the Bulldogs should sweep a ninth straight series by winning all three games in San Jose this weekend, the conference championship and a 32nd all-time trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Bulldogs is guaranteed, regardless of what happens in the final two weekends of the season.

Claiming the series by two games to one would move Fresno State to the brink of a conference title, reducing their magic number to one.  With two victories this weekend, the Bulldogs would need just one win, or one Spartans loss, over the final two weekends of play (May 6-8, and May 12-14) to claim the crown.

San Jose State, meanwhile, must sweep the 3-game series in order to move one game back in conference play.  And sweeping the Bulldogs would be a mighty task.  Not only has Fresno State never been swept in Mountain West play, the Bulldogs have been swept in a 3-game conference series just one time in 34 years of competing in NCAA Division I softball.

History is on the Bulldogs' side as well.  Fresno State has dominated San Jose State over the years, leading the all-time series 84-12.  In games played in San Jose, the Bulldogs have a commanding 38-8 edge.  And this year's team has consistently found ways to win, even in games where they trailed big or late in games.

Fresno State is the lone Mountain West team, and one of the few in the nation, to have a winning record when trailing late.  The Bulldogs are 9-7 in games where they trail entering the fifth inning.  And if a team gets behind Fresno State early, forget it.  The Bulldogs are 20-0 when leading entering the fourth inning.  Simply put, they can come back against you, but no one has been able to come back against them.

In conference play, the Bulldogs have that deadly combination of leading the league in both hitting and pitching.  With only nine games remaining, Fresno State remains on pace to break the Mountain West record for best team batting average and total number of hits by a team in conference play.  The Bulldogs are hitting .391 as a team (the record is .379, set by BYU in 2009) and are averaging nearly 12 hits per game.  Fresno State also has the league's leader by a wide margin in pitching wins (Jill Compton is 11-0), and the leader in ERA in conference play (Kamalani Dung, at 2.80).  Dung is unbeaten at 7-0 this season.

San Jose State counters with an offense that is batting .378, which ranks second in conference play.  The Spartans and Bulldogs lead the rest of the conference by more than 60 points in team batting average in league play.  And while Fresno State's team ERA in Mountain West play ranks No. 1 at 3.29, San Jose State is third at 4.40.

Normally one would think home field advantage would play a role this weekend, but surprisingly Fresno State hits better -- and, in some cases -- much better on the road.  With a northwest wind almost always blowing in from centerfield at home at Margie Wright Diamond, Bulldog hitters tend to hit a lot of fly outs at home.  And those same hits often turn into home runs and doubles away from home.  No team in the Mountain West has such a hitting discrepancy home and away.  While Fresno State has hit only eight home runs at home this season, the Bulldogs have slugged 37 homers out of the park away from Margie Wright Diamond.  Ford's team needs six home runs to tie the school record of 51 home runs in a season.  Look for that mark to be broken, as the Bulldogs have nine games -- plus likely postseason games -- remaining.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Around the Mountain West: RPI, poll news, and more

The latest RPI has been revealed and Fresno State remains in contention to possibly host an NCAA regional.  Sixteen regional hosts will be named two weeks from Sunday when the NCAA selection committee reveals its Field of 64.  In the latest RPI, the Bulldogs are No. 18 for the second week in a row.

Fresno State has two Top 25 wins, and eight wins and a tie vs. the RPI Top 50.  The Bulldogs have 16 wins over the RPI Top 100 at the moment with several chances remaining for more.

San Diego State dropped a couple of spots to No. 57 in the RPI this week and seems to be on the outside looking in as it attempts to go for a ninth straight NCAA Tournament bid.  Already eliminated from the possibility of winning the Mountain West's automatic NCAA berth, the Aztecs have a losing conference record (6-9) and likely must win all nine remaining conference games in order to get a look at an at-large bid.  Going 9-0 the rest of the way, San Diego State could finish with a 33-19 overall record, but even then it would be an iffy prospect at best.  The Aztecs are 4-8 vs. the RPI Top 50, and 9-11 vs. the RPI Top 100, with no games remaining against a Top 100 opponent.

The current Mountain West RPIs:

Fresno State - 18
San Diego St. - 57
San Jose St. - 71
Nevada - 103
New Mexico - 112
Colorado State - 128
UNLV - 142
Utah State - 180
Boise State - 211

In polling news today, Fresno State is ranked between 17th and 21st, depending on the poll.  The Bulldogs moved up one spot in both the College Sports Madness (17th) and Softball (21st) rankings, while holding steady at No. 20 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll.  Riding the nation's longest winning streak at 16 games in a row, Fresno State has reached its highest vote totals of the season in the only two polls that reveal vote totals -- Softball, and the USA Today/NFCA poll.

In game news, Utah State took two of three against Colorado State in an early-week makeup series played in Logan.  The Aggies won game one 10-8 in 10 innings, and rallied to tie that one in the bottom of the seventh when the Rams committed two of their four critical, late errors in the contest.  CSU used the long ball for an 8-1 rout in game two, while Utah State picked up a narrow 4-3 win in the series finale.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No. 20 Fresno State continues remarkable run with 25th straight MW win

There are winning streaks and then there are winning streaks.

Red-hot Fresno State, ranked 17th to 22nd in the nation depending on which poll you trust (but No. 20 in the most recent USA Today/NFCA poll), continued its impressive run Sunday.  The Bulldogs captured their 25th straight Mountain West victory spanning two seasons, completing a 3-game sweep of Colorado State with a 7-2 win.  Fresno State has now swept eight straight 3-game series dating back to the 2015 season and its 16-game overall winning streak this season is currently the longest in America.

No. 20 Fresno State 7, Colorado State 2 - The nation's longest current winning streak continues for coach Trisha Ford and company.  The Bulldogs remained unbeaten in conference play, running their record to 15-0 in the Mountain West, and claiming their 16th straight overall win this season with a thumping of the Rams.  It was conference win No. 25 in a row for Fresno State, and the Bulldogs' 16-game winning streak is the longest since 1999, when Margie Wright had the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the nation and on their way to a 12th College World Series appearance.  Senior pitcher Jill Compton moved to 11-0 in conference play this season and 20-4 overall with the complete-game win, scattering eight hits.  Lindsey Willmon delivered the game's biggest hit with a bases-loaded triple in the third that turned a 2-1 game into a 5-1 Bulldog advantage.  Willmon would deliver a second triple later in the game, and both times she would score on RBIs from freshman Dominique Jackson, who followed her in the batting order.  Willmon had three RBI and scored a pair of runs, while Jackson had two RBI.  Kierra Willis walked twice and scored both times, and Alyssa Villalpando had a hit and pair of runs scored.  The Bulldogs hung a second loss on Rams ace Holly Reinke, who entered the series with an 11-8 record and an ERA that ranked in the top five among Mountain West pitchers.  Haley Hutton, leading the MW in overall batting average, had three hits to lead CSU.  Fresno State had a host of defensive gems, including an unassisted double play by Katie Castellon to thwart a Rams rally.  Fresno State moved to 15-0 in conference play, the best start in history for a MW team.  With the Mountain West determining its automatic NCAA bid and conference champion in round-robin play, the Bulldogs can become the first team in the country to wrap up a bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament next weekend.  A sweep against second-place San Jose State would give Fresno State the Mountain West title, no matter what happens elsewhere over the final two weeks of the season.  The Bulldogs hold a 4-game lead over the Spartans in the league standings with nine to play.

San Jose St. 12, Nevada 8 - It was a wild one in Reno as San Jose State stormed to a 7-0 lead, only to see the hosts come back and tie the game.  In the end, a 5-run top of the sixth was the difference as SJSU won to sweep the 3-game road series.  It was a deflating weekend for Nevada, whose soft non-conference schedule finally seems to be catching up with the Wolf Pack.  And conversely, San Jose State's strong non-league slate played a role in enabling the sweep.  San Jose State was just 11-17 in non-conference play, while Nevada had the league's best record -- 22-5 -- prior to the start of Mountain West action.  But the two played decidely different opponents in the preseason.  San Jose State played the conference's second-most difficult slate, behind Fresno State, according to NCAA stats.  But Nevada played the league's easiest, according to NCAA stats.  The Pack currently sits just a game over .500 in conference play, now tied for third place with Utah State at 8-7.  The Spartans sit four games behind league-leading Fresno State with nine games left in the season, and the two teams meet next weekend with the conference title on the line.  SJSU had nine hits to 10 for Nevada today, but made the most of them.  Alyssa Martinez had a 3-run home run in the decisive sixth, and Brittany Abacherli was the lone Spartan with a mult-hit game, finishing with two.  Megan Sweet had two hits, including a home run, and Jennifer Purcell hit two home runs and finished with four RBI, albeit in a losing cause for the Pack.  Nevada, which entered the weekend leading the league in team ERA, has allowed 48 runs in its past four games.

Utah State 8, Boise State 7 - A back and forth game in Logan ended in the home team's favor as Utah State rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off win.  Libby Pederson homered on the fourth pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning against Broncos pitcher Nicole Wilson, and that was the ball game.  Boise State was unable to hold a 3-run lead in the fifth.  Makenzie Sullivan hit a grand slam in the top of the fifth to push the Broncos in front 7-4.  Alleyah Armendariz picked up the win in relief, going two scoreless innings.  Utah State moved into a tie for third place in the conference with Nevada at 8-7.

UNLV 7, New Mexico 3 - In one of the more surprising results of the season in MW play, the Rebels completed a road sweep of reeling New Mexico, which has been swept in back-to-back home series.  Morgan Ettinger scattered 10 hits and tossed a complete game to move to 7-2 on the year.  Lisa Rodrigues suffered her first loss of the season, falling to 2-1.  The top of the sixth, when UNLV scored four times, was the difference.  Five hits -- all of which were singles -- and a Lobos error turned a 3-2 game into a 7-2 Rebels lead.  UNLV had never swept a conference road series since the Mountain West implemented the 3-game series format.  In fact, the Rebels hadn't won three consecutive conference road games of any kind since the 2010 season.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It's official: 2016 Bulldogs own the record for best MW start ever (14-0)

Saturday night, No. 20 Fresno State became the first team in the 17-year history of Mountain West softball to begin league play 14-0.  The Bulldogs used a late rally to come from behind and defeat Colorado State 3-2 at Margie Wright Diamond.  Fresno State is off to not just a 14-0 conference start, but picked up a 24th straight Mountain West win and 15th consecutive victory overall this season.

No. 20 Fresno State 3, Colorado State 2 - In Fresno, the Bulldogs found another in a series of dramatic, come-from-behind wins that have defined their 'never-say-die' spirit this season.  For much of the game, this was a freshman pitcher's duel between Fresno State's unbeaten Kamalani Dung and CSU's Bridgette Hutton, the Colorado Player of the Year as a high school junior.  The Rams took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Bridgette's sister, Haley Hutton, hit an RBI single with two outs.  Two Bulldog errors in the fourth inning allowed CSU to score without benefit of a hit and it was a 2-0 Rams lead.  It remained that way until the bottom of the sixth when the Bulldogs rallied.  Bria Kennedy led off the sixth with a single, but was still standing at third base with two outs.  On a night when the Bulldogs had a runner (who was apparently safe, according to the Mountain West Network replay) called out at the plate in the third inning, Alyssa Villalpando wanted to make sure it didn't happen again.  The conference leader in RBI, Villalpando knocked in her 46th with a 2-out single to left, and was replaced by speedy pinch runner Christina Rodriguez, who immediately stole second base.  It would prove pivotal.  Paige Gumz would single, driving in Rodriguez to knot the score at 2-2.  In the top of the seventh, a 1-out double by Jaelyn Manzanares looked like it might put CSU in a position to score the go-ahead run.  But Manzanares was erased from the base paths on a brilliant double play.  Kristina Akiona hit a deep fly to center field, where freshman Vanessa Hernandez made a great catch and throw to third, trying to catch Manzanares trying to tag up.  Villalpando took the throw and the Bulldog infield caught Manzanares in a rundown for the final out of the top of the seventh.  Hernandez would prove key in the bottom of the seventh too.  With one out, she singled up the middle before Whitney Smith laid down a perfect bunt for a single of her own.  After a groundout advanced both runners, Hernandez scored when Malia Rivers singled just out of the reach of Rams third baseman Savannah Clark.  As the ball dribbled out of Clark's outstretched glove, the winning run came home.  Dung was sensational again in the circle, eight days after striking out a career-high 13 in a win over Utah State.  The freshman right-hander allowed only four hits in the game and moved her record to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in Mountain West action.  Fresno State won its 15th game in a row, matching the 2005 team for the longest winning streak by a Bulldog team this century.  The 14-0 start is the best ever for a MW team, surpassing the 13-0 start by the 2006 San Diego State team that went on to win a conference championship and NCAA berth.  The Bulldogs also extended their record-setting conference win streak, which now stands at 24 in a row, spanning two seasons.  Colorado State played an outstanding game defensively, robbing the Bulldogs of hits and potential extra-base hits multiple times.  The Rams fell to 4-9 in conference play and 18-21 overall.

UNLV 7, New Mexico 6 - In Albuquerque, the host Lobos were unable to hold a lead in the seventh inning for the second straight day, falling to UNLV.  The Rebels won consecutive games away from home for the first time all season, and New Mexico has now lost five straight Mountain West games on its home field.  Dating back to the 2015 season, UNM is just 3-8 in its last 11 home conference games.  Like Friday, this one was a back and forth affair as UNLV took the early lead, only to see New Mexico's Mariah Rimmer slam a 3-run home run for a 3-1 margin in favor of the Lobos.  In the fifth, the Rebels regained the lead with a pair of runs, but New Mexico answered right back with three of its own for a 6-4 Lobos advantage.  It would stay that way until the seventh when UNLV put up three runs.  The key blow was a 2-run double by Emily Haslinger.  In the bottom of the seventh, New Mexico had both the potential tying and winning runs on base with one out, but was unable to score.  Janine Petmecky (4-7) scattered nine hits in a complete-game win, while Lauren Soles (4-7) allowed 12 hits and picked up the loss, despite throwing a complete game where she needed just 82 pitches.  UNLV had been eliminated from the Mountain West race Friday, while the Lobos dropped to sixth place and now just a game over .500 overall at 20-19.

San Jose St. 12, Nevada 4 - In Reno, the Spartans overpowered the Wolf Pack for a second day in a row to clinch the series win.  San Jose State remained four games behind conference leader Fresno State with 10 games remaining, pending Saturday's late action.  Nevada, meanwhile, continues to slide, losing for the sixth time in its last 10 Mountain West games following a 4-0 start.  The Wolf Pack, despite having a sterling 30-11 overall record, are now just 4-7 this season against Top 100 teams in the RPI.  And that makes the stakes bigger for the series finale between these two teams Sunday.  Nevada is practically in a must-win situation if it wants to remain alive in the race for a conference crown and possible NCAA berth.  SJSU had no trouble with Wolf Pack pitching again, pouring it on with 17 hits, including three home runs.  And the Spartans were able to take advantage of three more Nevada miscues, as the Pack has now committed 15 errors in its past three games.  Casey Watt had three hits, including a home run, with three RBI.  Madison Aurin and Taylor Purdy also went deep as Nevada starter McKenna Isenberg allowed 14 hits in five innings to absorb the loss.  Down 8-0 in the fourth, Nevada tried to rally, scoring four runs thanks to wildness from three different SJSU pitchers.  The Pack runs scored on three singles, a pair of walks and two hit-by-pitches with the bases loaded.  Katelyn Linford, Friday's game one winner, induced Jasmine Jenkins to ground out with the bases loaded when she represented the possible tying run in the fourth.

Friday, April 22, 2016

No. 20 Fresno State ties best MW start ever with 23rd straight league win

No. 20 Fresno State tied the best start to a conference season in Mountain West history Friday night with a 9-6 win over Colorado State.  The Bulldogs' 14th straight win moved them to 13-0 in conference play, tying the 2006 San Diego State team, which also started 13-0 on its way to a Mountain West title.  It added to Fresno State's record-breaking conference winning streak as well.  The Bulldogs have won 23 straight Mountain West games dating back to last season.

No. 20 Fresno State 9, Colorado State 6 - In Fresno, the Bulldogs pounded out 11 hits, including six for extra bases and defeated the Rams for their 14th win in a row and 23rd straight Mountain West victory.  Kierra Willis staked the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a deep home run over the fence in left.  It came on a night she would finish 2-for-3 with a home run, double, and four RBI, and just 48 hours after she had a 3-hit game in a Bulldog road win at Pacific.  Bria Kennedy also went deep with her eighth home run of the season -- a new career high.  With 45 home runs on the year, Fresno State is now just six away from the single-season school record of 51, set in 2010.  Entering the day leading the Mountain West in RBI, Alyssa Villalpando added her 45th, with a pair of hits, including a double.  The Bulldogs would hit for the cycle as a team in the bottom of the third to score four runs and break the game open.  Heading to the top of the fifth, it was an 8-2 Fresno State lead, before Colorado State rallied to make it interesting.  Jill Compton, who crossed the 100 strikeout barrier for the season by striking out eight, had a bit of trouble with walks, dishing out six.  Three walks in the top of the sixth inning allowed the Rams their biggest inning of the game, scoring three runs to make it a 8-6 game.  Savannah Clark and Jaelyn Manzanares delivered RBI singles that inning and a sacrifice fly scored another.  Fresno State would add an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as an RBI single by Paige Gumz scored Willis, who walked.  Compton scattered nine hits in the game that was delayed an hour because of late afternoon rain.  She was able to escape several jams as CSU twice had the bases loaded with no outs, but never led in the contest.  Malia Rivers had a pair of hits, including her first triple of the season, for the Bulldogs, and scored three runs.  Lindsey Willmon and Dominique Jackson both added RBI, with Jackson lacing a double to the wall.  Fresno State maintained a 4-game lead over second-place San Jose State in the conference standings, while Nevada fell five games off the pace with 11 to play.  The Rams, meanwhile, fell to 4-8 and 18-20.  CSU pitcher Holly Reinke went the distance and took the loss, allowing all 11 hits.

San Jose St. 11, Nevada 1 - In Reno, the Wolf Pack's problems on defense continued as San Jose State rallied to score the game's final 11 runs in a rout.  Nevada led this one 1-0 in the fifth inning in what appeared to be a pitcher's duel between the Pack's Brooke Bolinger and the Spartans' Katelyn Linford.  Nevada imploded from that point, committing five errors over the final three innings, giving them a combined 12 errors in their past two games.  The Pack entered the day last in the Mountain West in fielding percentage in conference games at .932.  In addition to the five Wolf Pack errors Friday, the final three innings also included four walks by Nevada pitchers, a pair of wild pitches and a passed ball, as San Jose State scored three runs in the fifth to take the lead, and added five runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.  Linford moved her record to 6-8 overall (4-2 in MW play) by throwing a complete-game 4-hitter.  Bolinger allowed eight runs (six earned) on eight hits, and walked five, falling to 5-3 in conference play with the loss.  Jessie Hufstetler had a pair of singles and three RBI to lead SJSU.  The Spartans got an RBI triple (one of three hits on the day) from Brittany Abacherli.  San Jose State took over sole possession of second place in the conference, four games behind league-leading Fresno State in the loss column pending Friday's late game.  Nevada fell to third, five games behind the Bulldogs with 11 left to play.

Utah State 7, Boise State 6 - In Logan, the Aggies held off the Broncos in game one of a doubleheader.  Alleyah Armendariz picked up her first win of the season, tossing 6 2/3 innings before Katie Schroeder came on to earn the save.  Armendariz scattered seven hits and helped her own cause during a productive fifth inning when Utah State rallied to take the lead.  An RBI single by Armendariz came just before Libby Pederson delivered the game's decisive hit with a 3-run home run to center.  Boise State scored a pair in the top of the seventh to make it a 1-run game before Schroeder closed it out.  Kayla Clausen and Teauna Hughes had two RBI apiece for the Broncos.

Utah State 16, Boise State 2 - In game two of the doubleheader in Logan, the Broncos took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning before disaster struck and the host Aggies won going away.  This one was all about the long ball as USU hit four home runs, including two by Victoria Saucedo.  Armendariz added one of her own as part of a 7-run bottom of the fourth.  In that fourth inning, Boise State was unable to record an out until the ninth batter of the inning came to the plate.  Armendariz finished with five RBI, and Saucedo four.  Sarina Jaramillo had a home run and two RBI, while Noelle Johnson picked up the win by scattering six hits.  Boise State starter Mackenize McGill allowed nine runs (all earned) in just an inning and one-third.  The Broncos, who used three pitchers, fell to 4-10 in conference play and 12-30 overall.  The Aggies, who were swept by Fresno State last weekend, evened their Mountain West record at 7-7, and moved to 21-20 on the season.

UNLV 13, New Mexico 12 - In Albuquerque, it was a wild one that went back and forth before the visiting Rebels picked up just their fifth win away from Las Vegas all season.  New Mexico built a 5-2 lead before UNLV scored six runs in the top of the fifth to take a lead.  UNM rallied to regain a 9-8 edge in the bottom of the sixth, only to see the Rebels respond with five in the top of the seventh for a 4-run lead.  UNLV would have to hang on as New Mexico answered with three in the bottom of the seventh before falling.  Pitching was a bit of a nightmare for both sides as runners were on base for both teams all game long.  In fact, the two teams combined for 50 at-bats with runners on base and 30 different plate appearances with runners in scoring position.  The Lobos were just 3-of-15 with runners in scoring position, and that was the difference.  After Karissa Haleman doubled for New Mexico to make it a 13-12 game in the bottom of the seventh, she was stranded at second base as the game ended on a groundout.  Morgan Ettinger picked up the win for UNLV, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing 12 hits and eight runs (five earned).  Both teams committed three errors.  UNM's Colette Robert took the loss, giving up eight runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings.  Francesca Foti had two home runs and four RBI for UNLV, while Jamie DePippo had three hits and four RBI.  Mariah Rimmer and Chelsea Johnson hit homers for the Lobos.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Langdon pitches road shutout as Fresno State wins 13th in a row

Senior pitcher Taylor Langdon, who entered the day with one win and 11 innings pitched all season, picked a great time to come up with one of the best performances of her Fresno State career.

The right-hander tossed her first ever complete-game shutout, scattering five singles, as No. 20 Fresno State remained red-hot with a 4-0 road win in Stockton against Pacific.  Langdon had a career-high six strikeouts and outdueled Tigers pitcher Cassidy Gustafson, who earlier this season pitched a complete-game win over then No. 3-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge.

Langdon lowered her season ERA nearly four full points -- to 6.49 -- with her second win of the year against only one defeat.  Pacific threatened on a couple of occasions, but Langdon was at her best when it counted most, holding the Tigers to an 0-for-9 evening with runners in scoring position.  She finished with six strikeouts, and struck out the final batters of the first, second and fifth innings.

Freshman phenom Dominique Jackson hit her team-leading 10th home run of the season on the first pitch of the fifth inning off Gustafson.  It would strike the light pole in right-center as the power-hitting slugger from Chico took the Mountain West lead among freshmen in home runs.  Fresno State would score three more times in the fifth to give Langdon all the support she would need.

Freshman Vanessa Hernandez (who had two hits in the game) singled following Jackson's home run, and the Bulldogs loaded the bases with consecutive walks by Whitney Smith and Bria Kennedy.  Malia Rivers grounded out to make it a 2-0 game, and then, with two outs, Alyssa Villalpando delivered what would be the knockout blow.

The Mountain West leader in RBIs, Villalpando would add Nos. 43 and 44 with a 2-run single to right and it was a 4-run lead for the Bulldogs, who hit .400 (4-for-10) with two outs in the game.  Kierra Willis finished with three hits as Fresno State ran its season-high winning streak to 13 games in a row.  It was the Bulldogs' sixth shutout of the season as they improved to 31-9-1 overall.  Pacific dropped to 19-19 overall.

Weber State 3, Utah State 2 - In a continuation of last weekend, the Aggies found another tough way to lose in the final inning.  The Aggies committed an error in the top of the seventh, and a 2-run triple followed, sending the Wildcats to the win.  Utah State would try to rally in the bottom of the seventh, putting the potential winning run aboard, but falling short.  Noelle Johnson took the loss.  Weber State improved to 28-14, while the Aggies fell to 19-20.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bulldogs reach highest rankings of the year in RPI, polls

New Top 25 polls came out today, and the latest RPI was unveiled Monday, and it all contained great news for Fresno State.

RPI Top 25 (Click to enlarge)
The Bulldogs jumped three spots in the RPI to No. 18, its highest position of the season.  Additionally, it's the highest RPI for a Mountain West team since the implementation of the RPI as a tool used by the NCAA.  It's also the highest RPI ranking for a Bulldog softball team since the 2008 season when Fresno State was a member of the WAC.

In 2008, a No. 17 RPI earned the Bulldogs an NCAA regional host spot and one of 16 national seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

In the new Top 25 rankings, Fresno State moved up two spots to No. 17 in the College Sports Madness poll, up three spots to No. 20 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll, and up three spots to No. 22 in the Softball poll.  Fresno State has been ranked in all 10 weekly Top 25 polls by the NFCA this season.

The Bulldogs shared the largest leap of the week in the coaches poll with 12th-ranked Tennessee, a team Fresno State defeated 7-3 earlier this season.  The Bulldogs had the second-biggest leap of the week among teams in the poll.

In other news Tuesday, the conference named Jill Compton of Fresno State and Chelsea Johnson of New Mexico the Mountain West Pitcher and Player of the Week for their performances last weekend.  Johnson had 10 RBI and three home runs as UNM took two games at Colorado State.  Compton went 2-0 as Fresno State swept Utah State, improving her record in Mountain West play to 9-0 with a 2-hitter in the series finale.

Mountain West RPIs this week
Fresno State - 18
San Diego State - 55
Nevada - 87
New Mexico - 89
San Jose State - 98
Colorado State - 137
UNLV - 148
Utah State - 182
Boise State - 201

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Compton's 2-hitter lifts Fresno State to a 22nd straight MW win

There was a story this week on Fresno State's official athletic department web site where Bulldog pitcher Jill Compton said she gets more and more comfortable every time she sees opposing batters come to the plate for repeat appearances.  And then she went out and proved it this weekend.

In a rarity in college softball, Compton has repeatedly gotten stronger as opponents see her more and more.  While most batters tend to solve pitchers the more they see them, that is seldom the case when they face an elite ace like the Bulldogs senior right-hander.  Making her third straight start of the weekend, Compton was nearly unhittable Sunday as No. 23 ranked Fresno State completed a 3-game sweep of Utah State with a 2-1 victory.

USU had eight hits against Compton Friday night, and six on Saturday, but found the going much tougher this afternoon as the Bulldogs' ace settled into a groove.  The Aggies were 0-for-14 against her over the final 4 2/3 innings as she improved to 9-0 in MW play this season and leads the league with an 18-4 overall record as well.

Compton allowed only two hits in the contest, and both were of the infield variety and came in the only inning the Aggies scored -- the third.  Kylie-Rose Dickson was hit by a 3-2 pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a bunt single by Jazmin Clarke. After an out, Sarah Chow hit a comebacker that bounced off Compton for an infield hit to advance both runners.  A sacrifice fly by Noelle Johnson then gave the Aggies a 1-0 lead in the third, and they wouldn't have another hit or run the rest of the game.

Fresno State tied it in the bottom of the fourth against starter and losing pitcher April Brown, who had a strong outing and was very effective against the heart of the Bulldog batting order.  Freshman Vanessa Hernandez hit a deep, ground-rule double with two outs in the fourth, and it was followed by another double off the bat of Whitney Smith, tying the game 1-1.

While Fresno State found success against Brown at both the top and bottom of the lineup, Brown held the Bulldogs' potent 3-thru-6 hitters to an 0-for-11 day.  She escaped a few early jams, especially when Fresno State's Bria Kennedy and Malia Rivers both reached base safely back-to-back to lead off the first and third innings on three combined hits and a walk.  The Bulldogs stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Aggies weren't so lucky and Fresno State took advantage to rack up its record 22nd straight Mountain West win spanning two seasons.  The Bulldogs won their 12th straight game overall, marking their longest winning streak since the 2008 season and putting together their second double-digit win streak of the season.

Fresno State has won 10 straight conference series and, perhaps more importantly, captured 3-game sweeps in seven straight series.

Whitney Smith led off the bottom of the seventh by walking on a 3-2 pitch, and coach Trisha Ford went immediately to pinch runner Christina Rodriguez to sub for Smith.  It would be the coaching move of the game, as the speedy Rodriguez immediately put pressure on the Aggies' defense.  Kennedy laid down a beautifully-placed bunt and was barely thrown out at first, but Rodriguez kept motoring her way around second base on her way to third.  Dickson, the Aggies' second baseman, fired the ball to third, but the ball got away down the line, allowing Rodriguez to scamper home with the game-winning run.  See the play:

The Bulldogs got more good news after their game was over.  Second-place San Jose State lost at home to San Diego State, meaning Fresno State's lead in the conference standings doubled this weekend from two to four full games.  With 12 games remaining in conference play for Fresno State, the 12-0 Bulldogs sit four games ahead of both San Jose State and Nevada, which are tied at 8-4.  The Spartans and Wolf Pack face off next weekend in Reno, while the Bulldogs remain at home to host Colorado State.

Fresno State improved to 30-9-1 overall, its best record after 40 games since the 2008 season when it received an NCAA regional host spot and No. 1 regional seed.  The Bulldog softball program has now won 30 or more games for an impressive 35 straight seasons.

San Diego St. 11, San Jose St. 7 - The Aztecs handed the host Spartans their first series loss of the year, by taking game three and winning the series two games to one in San Jose.  This one was full of drama as the top hitters for both teams -- Jenavee Peres for the Aztecs and Jessie Hufstetler for the Spartans -- were hit by pitches twice each in the game.  The story early was errors as San Jose State committed three in the first inning, leading to four San Diego State runs.  The Aztecs would hold the lead the duration of the game, and pushed it to eight runs with a 5-run top of the seventh.  SJSU tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, pushing four runs across, and had the potential game-tying run in the on-deck circle.  Each team finished with 12 hits.  Erica Romero earned the victory, while Emily Rogers took the loss.  There were five errors and five hit-by-pitches in the game.  SDSU is 6-9 in conference play, while SJSU is 8-4.  The Aztecs, with nine games remaining in conference play, sit nine games behind league-leading Fresno State in the loss column.  The Spartans fell four games behind the Bulldogs.

Nevada 14, UNLV 13 - It was a wild one in Las Vegas as the host Rebels surged to a 7-1 lead only to see Nevada fight back before the Wolf Pack had to hang on for the victory.  This one was all about errors early as Nevada committed a season-high seven, with all four infielders committing at least one and two of them committing a pair apiece.  Both teams finished with 15 hits.  Brooke Bolinger started but lasted just two innings, giving up seven runs on six hits.  The Pack's third pitcher of the game, McKenna Isenberg, bounced back from a loss Saturday and grabbed the win by allowing six hits and four runs in four innings of work.  Despite being staked to a 6-run lead, UNLV couldn't hold it, allowing a 5-run third and 6-run fifth inning.  Megan Sweet became the Pack's all-time home run leader,  hitting two and finishing with six RBI.  In the bottom of the seventh, UNLV scored twice, and the Rebels ended the game with the tying run on base.  Nevada moved into a tie for second place in the conference with San Jose State at 8-4, while the last-place Rebs dropped to 4-11.

New Mexico at Colorado State canceled - For the second day in a row, snow was an issue and the final game of the series between the Lobos and Rams in Fort Collins was canceled.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Make it 21 straight league wins for streaking, 23rd-ranked Fresno State

Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 1,410 fans at Margie Wright Diamond, No. 23 Fresno State continued to do what it has done a lot of this season:  Win!

The Bulldogs have strung together an amazing 21 straight Mountain West victories spanning two seasons and are off to a blazing 11-0 start in conference play after Saturday's 3-2 win over Utah State.

No. 23 Fresno State 3, Utah State 2 - In Fresno, the Bulldogs got a strong pitching effort from Jill Compton and some clutch hitting from Alyssa Villalpando to power past the Aggies.  Compton improved to a perfect 8-0 in Mountain West play this season and picked up her league-leading 17th win overall with a complete-game 6-hitter.  For the second night in a row, the Bulldogs came out of the gate a bit slow, allowing Utah State to take a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, aided by some strange plays once again.  Paxton Provost hit a very high chopper just in front of home plate and by the time catcher Paige Gumz could corral the ball, Amanda Sheets (who'd walked earlier) scampered home for the game's first run.  A Bulldog error followed, putting Utah State up by a pair of runs moments after the game began.  The Aggies would not score again in the game.  Fresno State responded quickly, cutting the margin to 2-1 in the bottom of the first.  Bria Kennedy (who had an excellent outfield assist, throwing out a USU runner at the plate in the second) was hit by a pitch from Utah State starter Alleyah Armendariz to start the bottom of the first, and Malia Rivers followed with a single.  A groundout by Villalpando got the Bulldogs on the board and cut the Aggies' lead in half in the first.  Both pitchers settled down after that opening frame, but Fresno State took the lead for good in the fifth after wasting a few earlier chances.  Whitney Smith walked to lead off the frame and moved to third on a 2-out single by Kierra Willis.  Villalpando stepped up and hit a double just inside the line in right field, plating both Smith and Willis and giving the Bulldogs the lead.  Paige Gumz would follow with a single but was stranded.  Armendariz had a fine outing, keeping the high-powered Bulldogs' offense at bay for the most part and scattering eight hits in six innings.  Compton, however, was a little better in moving into a tie for 8th place all-time in Fresno State history in wins.  Her 80 career victories ties her with Maureen Brady, who led the Bulldogs to the 1994 Women's College World Series and earned All-American honors that season.  Maureen Brady is the sister of legendary New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  Villalpando, who entered Saturday leading the league in RBI, now has 42 on the season.  Fresno State won its 10th straight Mountain West series and goes for its seventh straight series sweep tomorrow.  The Bulldogs are 11-0 in conference play and 29-9-1 overall, having won 11 straight games and 13 of 14 overall.  Utah State fell to 5-6 in Mountain West action this season and has lost back-to-back series.

San Jose St. 9, San Diego St. 2 - In San Jose, the Aztecs and host Spartans were locked in a tight, 1-run game in the sixth inning before San Jose State pushed six runs across -- all with two outs -- to turn a close game into a laugher.  Jessica Madrid, with two outs and the bases loaded in a 3-2 game in the sixth, smacked a double to clear the bases, and the rout was on.  She finished with three RBI.  Taylor Purdy had three hits (including a solo home run) and three RBI for San Jose State, which tied the series at 1-1.  Alex Formby, who entered in the second in place of starter Ashley Ercolano, took the loss, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3.  Katelyn Linford went the first six innings to grab the win for SJSU, scattering three hits that included a Jenavee Peres home run.  The Spartans are 8-3 in league play and a game under .500 at 19-20 overall.  For the Aztecs (5-9, 23-19), there is no longer a margin for error.  With 10 games remaining for coach Kathy Van Wyk's team in conference play, SDSU is nine games behind league-leading Fresno State in the loss column.

UNLV 5, Nevada 3 - In Las Vegas, the host Rebels won for just the second time in their past 11 games, taking advantage of four Wolf Pack errors.  Morgan Ettinger went the distance, scattering nine hits, to earn the victory.  She was in control until a scary top of the seventh when Nevada scored two runs with two outs and put the potential tying run on base.  Megan Sweet's 2-run double brought the Pack within a pair of runs in the seventh.  On her birthday, Garie Blando led UNLV with three hits,  while also stealing three bases and making some key defensive plays as well.  The Rebels stole six bases in the game.  McKenna Isenberg went the distance for Nevada, allowing eight hits in the loss.  Nevada dropped to 7-4 in Mountain West play and 29-9 overall, and the series is now tied at a game apiece.  UNLV remains in last place in the conference standings at 4-10, and the Rebels are 20-23 overall.

New Mexico at Colorado State (postponed) - The game between the Rams and Lobos in Fort Collins was postponed by weather and is slated to be made up Sunday.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Stunning 8-run comeback lifts Fresno State to 20th straight MW win

We've said all season that it's very hard to hold off the offense of No. 23-ranked Fresno State.  And the Bulldogs proved it once again with a rally for the ages.  In the end, it was the 20th straight Mountain West win for the defending conference champions who remained unbeaten in league play and expanded their lead to three full games in the standings.

No. 23 Fresno State 12, Utah State 11 (9 innings) - In Fresno, the Bulldogs put together two of their worst defensive innings of the season to fall behind by eight runs early, before roaring back from that 8-run deficit to stun the Aggies in a wild thriller.  After taking a 2-run lead in the bottom of the first, Fresno State had defensive issues galore on a night with strong, swirling winds encapsulating Margie Wright Diamond.  Three errors in the second and third innings (and a couple of mental mistakes that could've been called errors) put the Bulldogs in a big hole as Utah State scored four in the second and six more in the third to go in front 10-2.  It was the largest deficit a Trisha Ford team had faced in Mountain West play in four years as Bulldog coach.  The Aggies took advantage of the miscues and had four singles in the second, and a 3-run home run from Victoria Saucedo that forced starting pitcher Jill Compton from the game.  Ford called on freshman Kamalani Dung to replace Compton in the circle and it was a move that changed the complexion of the game.  Dung allowed two hits in that inning and was charged with a run, but from that point forward, she delivered a sterling relief effort to improve to 6-0 on the year and 3-0 in conference.  Dung allowed only one additional earned run over the final seven innings and baffled the Aggies all night long, finishing with a career-high 13 strikeouts.  It was the most strikeouts in a game by a Mountain West pitcher this season.  And Dung got stronger as the 3 1/2-hour marathon of a game went along,  striking out the side in the ninth inning and striking out the final five batters she faced.  Paige Gumz delivered the game-wining RBI single, lacing a ball to deep right-center and bringing home Malia Rivers with the game-winning run.  Freshman Dominique Jackson had a game to remember, knocking a pair of home runs out of the park -- her eighth and ninth of the season -- in back to back innings.  And when she wasn't hitting home runs, Utah State was afraid to face her, issuing three walks as she reached base in all five plate appearances.  Fresno State scored nine straight runs after being down 10-2, and finally took the lead at 11-10 in the sixth.  Freshman Morgan Howe delivered a clutch, pinch-hit, 2-run single to tie it, and Bria Kennedy gave the Bulldogs the lead with an RBI single of her own.  Utah State would not quit though, as the Aggies -- down to their last strike in the seventh -- rallied to tie it.  With two outs, Jazmin Clarke singled and Kirstyn Namba hit a double to left that appeared to get caught up in those swirling winds as Kierra Willis backtracked, to knot it at 11-11.  In the bottom of the ninth, Aggies pitcher April Brown hit Kennedy to start the inning, and Rivers reached on a fielder's choice when Brown threw late to second base.  Kennedy was thrown out trying to score, and, with two outs, Gumz knocked in her game-winner, sending the crowd of 1,217 home happy.  Fresno State moved to 10-0 in Mountain West play, its best start in conference play this century.  The Bulldogs, who entered conference play this weekend on pace to break the all-time team batting average record in MW games, reached double-digits in hits for the 10th straight game, finishing with 14.  Utah State fell to 5-5 in conference play with the heartbreaking loss.

San Diego State 9, San Jose State 6 - In San Jose, a 5-run top of the third inning proved to be a difference maker as the Aztecs rallied for a road win over the Spartans.  San Jose State jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on four hits and looked to be cruising.  Spartans pitcher Collette Riggs had a 3-run lead and a no-hitter going with two outs in the third when things changed suddenly.  San Diego State scored five runs -- all with two outs -- on four hits that inning.  Leia Ruiz got it started with a single, and a walk and hit-by-pitch followed.  Sydnee Cable then hit a 2-run single, Jaylene Ignacio doubled home a run, and Frankie Orlando knocked in a pair with a 2-run single.  Jenavee Peres smacked a 2-run home run to make it a 5-run cushion at 9-4 later.  The Aztecs would use three pitchers in the game, with middle reliever Ashley Ercolano grabbing the win.  Alex Formby pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.  San Diego State kept its postseason hopes alive, moving to 5-8 in the league and 23-18 overall.  San Jose State, meanwhile, fell three games behind league-leading Fresno State in the loss column at 7-3 in the conference.  The Spartans are 18-20 overall.

New Mexico 14-7, Colorado St. 3-6 - In Fort Collins, the Lobos put together an 8-run top of the sixth to run-rule the Rams in game one of a doubleheader, and then held off the Rams late for a 7-6 win in the nightcap.  The eight runs in the sixth inning of game one matched New Mexico's run total for its entire home series last weekend against Fresno State.  Chelsea Johnson went 4-for-4 with two home runs and finished with six RBI.  Jade Gray had two hits, including a home run of her own.  Rams starter Holly Reinke allowed 10 earned runs and 11 hits to take the loss.  Lisa Rodrigues allowed two hits and no runs over the final four innings to earn the win.  Despite the lopsided final score, hits were relatively even:  UNM had 10 to eight for the Rams, who led 3-2 heading to the third.  With as much as a foot or more of snow expected this weekend, the games were moved up to a morning start.  The series finale will take place -- weather permitting -- Saturday.

Nevada 6, UNLV 0 - In Las Vegas, the Wolf Pack shut out their in-state rivals, sending reeling UNLV to its ninth loss in 10 games.  Freshman pitcher Brooke Bolinger gave up five hits and struck out six in the complete-game effort.  Janine Petmecky took the loss.  Kwynn Warner had four hits, including two doubles, and one RBI to lead Nevada.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

RPI, Top 25 polls, and strength of schedule stats

It's early in the week so that means a whole lot of stats, polls and rankings are fresh and in the news.

All of the news remains great for Fresno State this week.  Most importantly, the RPI for the Bulldogs remains high.  Coach Trisha Ford's squad moved up two spots to No. 21 this week after a 3-game road sweep at New Mexico.  With nine wins over the current RPI Top 50 and 18 wins over the RPI Top 100, Fresno State remains in strong contention for a Top 16 national seed and regional host spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament, provided that it continues winning.

Strength of schedule is where the Bulldogs have a wild card that could enable them to host an NCAA regional.  Fresno State has played the country's 11th toughest schedule, according to NCAA stats released Monday.  One other Mountain West team -- San Jose State -- has played a Top 50 schedule.  The Spartans are at No. 49 in the latest SOS numbers.

In the just-released national Top 25 polls this week, Fresno State moved up one spot to No. 19 in the College Sports Madness rankings.  For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs dramatically increased their vote totals in both the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll and Softball rankings, but held at the No. 23 and No. 25 spots, respectively.  In those two polls, Fresno State's vote totals increased from 76 to 100 (USA Today/NFCA) and from 29 to 46 ( Softball).

The Bulldogs narrowly trail Arizona State in both polls, with the Sun Devils having 23 more votes in the coaches' poll and just 1 more vote in the Softball poll.  Teams ranked 22nd thru 25th are separated by a total of just 20 votes in the rankings.

In the RPI, San Diego State actually rose a spot to No. 60 (second-best in the MW) despite losing two of three at home to Colorado State.  The Aztecs have their best shot of getting back in the race for the conference crown and reaching a ninth straight NCAA tournament this week with a series at San Jose State.  The Spartans have the MW's third-best RPI at No. 86.

Suffering the biggest drop in the RPI this week among MW teams is Nevada.  The Wolf Pack fell 15 spots from No. 73 to No. 88 despite winning three games against Niagara.  The reason:  Niagara is 2-22 overall this season.  Additionally, the Wolf Pack's strength of schedule dropped to a conference-worst 272nd (of 295 NCAA Division I teams).

Making the biggest leap in the RPI this week among MW teams is Boise State.  The Broncos rose 15 spots from No. 204 to No. 189 after taking two of three from UNLV.  The Rebels, meanwhile, have fallen hard the past two weeks.  UNLV was 97th in the RPI just a couple of weeks ago, but now sits at No. 152.

Current RPIs:  Fresno State 21st, San Diego State 60th, San Jose State 86th, Nevada 88th, New Mexico 95th, Colorado State 125th, UNLV 152nd, Boise State 189th, Utah State 191st.

Current SOSs:  Fresno State 11th, San Jose State 49th, New Mexico 73rd, San Diego State 77th, Boise State 135th, Colorado State 145th, UNLV 165th, Utah State 259th, Nevada 272nd.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fresno State run-rules, sweeps New Mexico for 19th straight MW win

There apparently is no stopping the Fresno State offense.  And no one has been able to solve a resurgent Jill Compton either.

Compton tossed a complete-game 3-hitter to improve her record to 16-4 overall and 7-0 in conference play, and the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs pounded out 14 hits in an 11-1 (five innings) romp to complete a 3-game sweep of New Mexico in Albuquerque Sunday.  Fresno State is now 9-0 in Mountain West games and holds a 2-game lead over second-place San Jose State in the standings.  UNM fell six games behind the league-leading Bulldogs in the loss column.

A week after becoming the first Mountain West team to sweep a 3-game series from San Diego State in 11 years, the Bulldogs became the first team in the conference to sweep New Mexico in Albuquerque since 2013.  Fresno State ran its record-setting win streak to 19 straight conference wins and six consecutive 3-game sweeps dating back to last season.

The Bulldogs, batting .444 as a team in conference play, have scored 100 runs in nine Mountain West games this season, reaching double-figures in hits in all nine contests.  Fresno State had 14 hits in just five innings Sunday against three New Mexico pitchers and no Bulldog player struck out in the game.  Six different Fresno State players hit over .400 in the series.

Bulldog leadoff hitter Bria Kennedy set the tone for this one by launching the third pitch of the game out of the park for a quick 1-0 lead.  It was Kennedy's seventh home run of the season.  Three consecutive hits followed, with Lindsey Willmon's 2-run single making it 3-0 before most fans had even settled into their seats.

UNM starting pitcher Krissy Fortner (3-3) lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing three runs on five hits, and was replaced in the first inning by freshman Colette Robert, who started and took the loss Saturday.  Fresno State's heavy bats would force Robert from the game by the top of the third when the lead grew to 8-0.  The Bulldogs had seven hits and scored five runs (all earned) against Robert in just 1 2/3 innings.

Kennedy went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, while catcher Paige Gumz capped an impressive series with a 2-run home run in the top of the fifth to push the Bulldogs' lead to 10 runs.  Gumz was 7-for-11 in the series, adding a pair of hits,  two RBI, and scoring three runs Sunday.  Joining Gumz with a 7-for-11 series was Willmon, who had a pair of hits and two RBI, while scoring two runs Sunday.

Junior Kierra Willis added two hits, two RBI and scored two runs, while freshman Morgan Howe had the first 3-hit game of her career for the Bulldogs.  Freshman Dominique Jackson, who blasted what amounted to the game-winning home run Saturday, came to the plate in another pinch-hitting role with the bases loaded Sunday.  UNM wanted nothing to do with her bat this time, and Jackson walked to force in a run and grab an RBI.

Compton was extremely effective and efficient in the circle, needing only 75 pitches in the complete-game win and allowing only two New Mexico base runners to move into scoring position.  Over the final two games of the series, UNM had a total of just one extra-base hit.  The Lobos were held to just three hits for the second straight game, and they were outscored 28-8 in the series on their home field.

Fresno State holds a commanding 37-6 lead in the 43-game, all-time series between the schools.

San Jose St. 15, Utah State 3 - In Logan, the Spartans blew open a 1-run game late for the second time in three days to win the series two games to one.  This was a 4-3 game in the sixth before San Jose State put on a clinic and the Aggies found it nearly impossible to get out of an inning.  SJSU scored nine runs in the seventh inning and Utah State starting pitcher Noelle Johnson allowed 13 hits and 12 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.  The Spartans hit four home runs, including two by Jessie Hufstetler and a grand slam by Brittany Abacherli.  Despite the lopsided score, hits were relatively even as USU had 10 compared to SJSU's 14.  Katelyn Linford allowed eight hits and three runs in 4 1/3 to move her record to 4-8 on the season.

Boise State 8, UNLV 1 - In Boise, the Broncos captured their second straight conference series, while sending the reeling Rebels to their eighth loss in nine games.  Boise State, which was 8-26 overall less than two weeks ago, is 4-8 in conference play and tied in the league standings with a San Diego State team that has reached eight straight NCAA tournaments.  UNLV dropped into sole possession of last place in the Mountain West standings.  Nicole Wilson picked up the win by scattering seven UNLV hits, and Teauna Hughes hit two home runs to lead the Broncos.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bulldogs run Mountain West winning streak to a record 18 in a row

Coach Trisha Ford's Fresno State Bulldog softball team just keeps on winning.

Saturday in Albuquerque, the No. 23 ranked Bulldogs pounded out 12 hits and rallied for five runs over the final two innings on their way to a 6-2 win over host New Mexico.

The win was the 18th straight in Mountain West play for the Bulldogs, spanning two seasons.  Fresno State improved to 8-0 in conference play and 26-9-1 overall, and moved a full two games ahead of second-place San Jose State in the standings.  The Spartans fell at Utah State Saturday.

In the top of the second inning, Fresno State took a 1-0 lead when Paige Gumz doubled and scored on a single from Morgan Howe.  But New Mexico scored twice in the third to take a 2-1 lead.  Bulldog starter and freshman pitcher Kamalani Dung walked the first two batters of the frame and both came around to score.  On an afternoon where Dung would earn the win and allow just two hits -- both singles -- she walked five, thanks to a strike zone that seemed the size of a postage stamp for both teams at times.

Those walks gave UNM hope.  Following those two walks to lead off the third, Cheyenne Smith was awarded a bunt single on a play where no Bulldog was covering first base. Michala Erickson then singled sharply up the middle to tie the game 1-1, and Mariah Rimmer gave the Lobos the lead with a groundout that plated a second run.

For Fresno State, there were a few missed opportunities along the way.  Already up 1-0 in the top of the third, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out on singles by Whitney Smith and Bria Kennedy, along with a New Mexico error.  Kierra Willis then bounced into an unconventional 5-2 double play to ruin the threat.

In the fifth, the Bulldogs had runners at second and third base with just one out, but failed to score again.  Smith doubled (one of three Fresno State doubles in the game) and moved to third on a wild pitch, while Kennedy walked and stole second base.  UNM freshman starter Colette Robert worked out of trouble again by getting a shallow fly out and groundout to end another Bulldog rally.

In the sixth, Fresno State took the lead for good on a 2-out rally that began with Lindsey Willmon's double to left center.  Howe hit an RBI single that landed just inside the line in right, plating Willmon with the game-tying run.  Ford then called on freshman Dominique Jackson to pinch hit, and Jackson delivered the game-defining blow.  On the first pitch she saw from Robert, Jackson blasted a deep, 2-run shot to straightaway center and her seventh home run of the season hit off the stadium's flag pole.

Fresno State would add two more insurance runs in the top of the seventh.  Katie Castellon and Willis both singled, and Castellon would score on a wild pitch.  Willmon's third hit of the game -- a 2-out single on an 0-2 pitch -- plated a sixth Bulldog run.

Jill Compton earned her second save of the season by pitching the final two innings and allowing one infield single.  UNM was held to three hits in the contest, while Fresno State reached double figures in hits for an eighth straight conference game.

Dung improved to 5-0 and 2-0 in Mountain West play.  Robert fell to 8-7 on the year.

Utah State 8, San Jose St. 6 - In Logan, the Aggies had 14 hits on their way to a win over the Spartans.  April Brown earned the win in relief, allowing two hits and no earned runs over the final 3 2/3 innings.  Sarina Jaramillo had three hits, including a home run, and four RBI for USU.

Colorado St. 3, San Diego St. 1 - In San Diego, the Rams picked up a surprising series win over the Aztecs by winning the final two games.  Ashley Ercolano got the start for San Diego State and took the loss, going 2 2/3 innings. Holly Reinke went the distance for CSU, scattering 10 hits as SDSU out-hit the Rams 10 to 8, but couldn't come up with a clutch hit.  Kristina Akiona hit a home run and had two RBI to lead Colorado State.  The Aztecs, picked to finish second in the MW in the preseason, fell a stunning eight games behind league-leading Fresno State in the loss column in the Mountain West standings.  With 11 conference games still to play, San Diego State already has two more league losses than it did all of last season.

UNLV 8, Boise State 2 - In Boise, the Rebels snapped a 7-game losing streak by defeating the host Broncos.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fresno State pounds out 17 hits en route to a 17th straight conference win

Red-hot Fresno State just won't stop.  The Bulldogs, ranked 20th, 23rd and 25th in the nation in the major polls this week, continued to pound the ball in an 11-5 win over New Mexico Friday night in Albuquerque.  In the process, coach Trisha Ford's squad ran its league-record softball winning streak to 17 straight Mountain West wins.

Fresno State got another monster effort from Alyssa Villalpando, who had the first 5-for-5 game of her career and finished with five RBI.  Villalpando hit a 2-run home run in the top of the first inning as the Bulldogs went on top 2-0 and never trailed.  She added a 2-run single in the second, an RBI single in the fourth, and singles in both the sixth and seventh innings as well.  It was part of Fresno State's season-high 17-hit attack.

The Bulldogs' potent offense, which entered the series batting a Mountain West-best .445 in conference play, was practically unstoppable against three New Mexico pitchers.  Lauren Soles went the first 1 2/3 innings and took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits and falling to 3-6 on the season.  Tess McPherson went 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, and Krissy Fortner pitched the final two innings, allowing five hits and an earned run.

Jill Compton (15-4) went the distance for Fresno State, moving to a Mountain West-best 6-0 record in conference play and leading the league with 15 wins overall.  Compton, in five starts in MW play, now has five complete game wins as well as a win in relief.  She allowed six hits Friday and struck out seven.  Two of UNM's runs were unearned as the Bulldogs committed an uncharacteristic, season-high four errors,

In four road games in league play, Fresno State has now scored 60 runs on 62 hits.  The 17 straight Mountain West wins is an ongoing record, and the Bulldogs' 7-0 start in conference play is their best in 12 years since their days in the WAC.  Additionally, the 83 runs the Bulldogs have scored in their last seven games are the most during any 7-game stretch in program history.

Paige Gumz matched a career-high with four hits Friday for Fresno State, which received multiple-hit games from Kierra Willis (2-for-3), Lindsey Willmon (2-for-3) and Whitney Smith (2-for-2) as well.  Gumz had two RBI, and Willmon had one, while pinch-hitters Morgan Howe and Victoria Trevino also delivered RBI as Ford let 17 Bulldog players see action.

UNM got a home run from Michala Erickson, while Shelbie Franc's two hits led the Lobos.

San Diego St. 3-4, Colorado St. 2-6 - In San Diego, a Rams error in the bottom of the seventh inning allowed the Aztecs to score the game-wining run and snap a 3-game losing streak in the opener.  In the nightcap, San Diego State was three outs from a doubleheader sweep, but Colorado State rallied for three in the top of the seventh to erase a 4-3 deficit and hang on for the win.  CSU got a 2-run, pinch-hit single from Lauren Buchanan in the decisive seventh.  Erica Romero was the pitcher of record in both contests for the Aztecs.  With just 13 league games remaining, San Diego State fell to seventh place in the Mountain West standings, seven games behind conference leader Fresno State in the loss column (and, technically, eight games behind since the Bulldogs hold the tiebreaker).

Boise State 10, UNLV 0 (5 innings) - In Boise, the Broncos picked up a run-rule win over the faltering Rebels, who have lost seven straight conference games and fallen to last place.  Boise State has won three of four since an 0-6 start in Mountain West action.

San Jose St. 9, Utah State 3 - In Logan, the Spartans blew open a tight game in the seventh by scoring six runs on their way to a rout.  SJSU won its third game in a row.

Nevada 4-4-2, Niagara 3-3-0 - In Reno, the Wolf Pack swept a rare non-conference tripleheader in games that were closer than many predicted.  While Nevada's schedule has been much maligned this season, this one takes the cake:  Niagara has won just two of its 24 games this season and is No. 284 of 295 teams in the latest RPI ratings.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

SWEEP! No. 25 Fresno State first to sweep a 3-game MW series from Aztecs

Fresno State accomplished something Sunday that no one had been able to do in the past.  In front of 1,302 fans at Margie Wright Diamond, the No. 25-ranked Bulldogs became the first Mountain West team to sweep a 3-game series from San Diego State since the conference adopted the 3-game series format.

While Fresno State captured its series against the Aztecs for a third straight season, the past two were by 2-1 margins.  Until Sunday, no Mountain West team in the last 11 years had swept a multi-game season series from San Diego State, regardless of the series format.  In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2005, when the league had a home-and-away doubleheader format, to find a season where Coach Kathy Van Wyk's team ended a year without at least one win over a fellow Mountain West team.

Red-hot Fresno State won its 16th straight conference game dating back to last season and completed an impressive week by moving to 6-0 in MW play and 24-9-1 overall with an 8-5 win.  The Bulldogs reached double-digits in hits in all six games and averaged 12 runs a game this week in crushing the opposition 72-24.

San Diego State, with 15 conference games remaining, fell six full games behind the league-leading Bulldogs.  And without holding the tiebreaker, it essentially amounts to a 7-game lead, putting the Aztecs' string of nine straight NCAA appearances in serious jeopardy.  SDSU is 3-6 in MW play and 21-16 overall after entering the series having won eight of its previous 11 games.

The Bulldogs spotted SDSU an early 2-run lead in this one as Sam Camello led off the game with a double and scored on a 2-base throwing error.  A sacrifice fly plated an additional run for the Aztecs before Fresno State took the lead for good in the bottom of the first.

Bria Kennedy walked and Malia Rivers singled (one of her three hits on the afternoon) before Kierra Willis got the 'Dogs on the board with a sacrifice fly.  Alyssa Villalpando and Lindsey Willmon then continued their sizzling performances this week, with one of those two certain to win MW Player of the Week honors.  Villalpando hit an RBI double and Willmon an RBI single to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.

Fresno State pushed that margin to five runs just an inning later.  Whitney Smith singled and Bria Kennedy reached on a force out of Smith.  Malia Rivers then singled, and Kennedy used some nifty base running to score on an Aztecs error.  Willis then singled to put two runners aboard for Villalpando, who sent a deep home run over the fence in left.  It was Villalpando's sixth home run of the season, and she finished with a four RBI day and 13 RBI week.

San Diego State took advantage of a trio of walks and three Bulldog errors in the game to make it a 7-5 contest in the fifth.  Freshman Molly Sturdivant had a strong series and her sacrifice fly in the third -- after three walks loaded the bases -- made it a 7-3 game.  Her RBI double in the fifth immediately followed a Bulldog error and made it a 2-run ballgame.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the sixth when freshman Morgan Howe delivered a pinch-hit single to open the frame, and Rivers' third hit of the game scored pinch runner Christina Rodriguez, who took over for Howe.

Compton earned her Mountain West-leading 14th win on a week where she went 5-0 in conference play, starting four of the Bulldogs' six games.  Alex Formby started her second game of the series and picked up her second loss for San Diego State.

Colorado State 9-5, San Jose St. 3-13 - In Fort Collins in front of 156 fans, the Rams and Spartans split a doubleheader, with each team winning in a rout.  In game one, Holly Reinke earned the complete-game victory and Jaelyn Manzanares hit a home run and finished with three RBI.  In the nightcap, Jessica Madrid and Alyssa Avila homered for San Jose State and a 7-run top of the fourth blew it open.  Collette Riggs threw 3 2/3 innings for the win, while CSU freshman Bridgette Hutton took the loss.

Utah St. 7, UNLV 4 - In Las Vegas in front of 163 fans, the Aggies prevailed to sweep the series from a suddenly reeling UNLV team, which has lost six straight and 10 of 13.  Utah State's Noelle Johnson scattered 10 hits and picked up the victory to move her record to 6-7.  Rebels starter Morgan Ettinger, one of three UNLV pitchers, suffered the loss.  Libby Pederson had a home run and two RBI to lead USU.

New Mexico 3, Nevada 2 - In Reno in front of 134 fans, all of the scoring came late as the Lobos avoided a sweep.  Mariah Rimmer homered in the sixth for a 1-0 UNM lead before Nevada scored twice in the bottom of the sixth on Melissa Arriaga and Amanda Weis RBI singles.  In the seventh, the Lobos won it by scoring a pair of runs on three hits.  Collette Robert picked up the win, while Brooke Bolinger took the loss.