BOISE, Idaho-Boise State softball opened its new home field, Dona Larsen Park, Friday, splitting a pair of games. The Broncos (10-14) fell 5-3 against Utah State in the opening game before rebounding for an 8-0 win in five innings against Idaho State.
Dona Larsen started the day's festivities by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the field that dons her name. Larsen has been an active member of the Boise community for more than 50 years, heavily involved in youth sports. She was also a softball student-athlete while attending Utah State.
Tara Glover and Lindsey Nicholson each had three hits over the two games. Glover tripled in the first plate appearance by a Bronco at the new field. It was her fifth triple as a Bronco, setting the school's all-time record. Nicholson, a sophomore, had one hit for her career entering Friday's action.
Eight different Broncos drove in runs on the day, led by three from Devon Bridges to extend her team-leading total to 23 RBI on the year.
Lela Work earned the win against Idaho State (7-12) in complete-game fashion to earn her first-career shutout. Rebecca Patton took the complete-game loss against Utah State (3-20).
Aggies Win Battle of Late-Inning Offenses
Utah State rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth inning, all with two outs, to take a 3-1 lead. Boise State answered back with a run in the sixth and the seventh to force extra innings, but the Aggies scored twice in the eighth to spoil the Broncos' home opener.
Ashley Palmer hit the first home run at Dona Larsen Park in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and send it to extras. It is Palmer's second-career home run.
Tara Glover was 2-for-4 in the game, including a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first. Glover scored later in the inning on a passed ball.
Starting pitcher Rebecca Patton made that run hold for much of the game. After allowing two hits in the first inning, Patton retired 14 of the next 15 she faced-walking just one. A one-out double in the sixth broke the string, and a groundout moved the tying run to third base and brought to the plate cleanup hitter Christine Thomsen.
The Broncos elected to issue Thomsen, a 2012 second-team Easton All-American, an intentional walk to put runners on the corners with two outs. Nicole Arata responded by working the count full and driving a two-run double to right center, giving the Aggies their first runs of the game and the lead. Another two-out base hit drove in Arata and Utah State took a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the inning.
Makenna Weir led off with her team-leading fifth double of the season and one out later Devon Bridges traded places with her with a double of her own to cut the deficit to one. Bridges was stranded at third.
Patton retired the Aggies in order in the seventh to bring the Bronco bats back to the plate still down one. Brittany McCray led off with a walk to and was replaced on the bases by Kayla Clausen. With Palmer at the plate as the winning run, Clausen was picked off at first. On the next pitch Palmer lifted a fly ball to left center that fought through swirling winds and dropped over the fence to tie the game.
In the eighth inning, with the international tiebreaker rule in effect and placing a runner at second base to start the frame, the Aggies used a bunt single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Eventually there were runners at second and third with one out when but a dropped fly ball in center let one run score and there were still two in scoring position. Two walks later the Aggies led 5-3.
Patton did strand the bases loaded and the Broncos brought the winning run to the plate with nobody out in the bottom of the inning after an infield single for Holly Bourke put runners at the corners. A fly out, line out and ground out ended the comeback effort and Utah State held on for the win.
Patton (5-5) allowed five runs (three earned) across her eight innings. She struck out six while walking five. Three of the free passes came in the eighth inning.
Two-Out Runs Aplenty in Broncos' Run-Rule Victory
Seven different Broncos drove in runs in their 8-0, five-inning win against Idaho State. Devon Bridges was the only one to drive in multiple runs with a two-run single in the fourth inning. All eight runs were scored with two outs.
Senior Lela Work allowed just three hits and did not walk a batter in picking up her first-career shutout. Work went all five innings in a tidy 53 pitches.
Boise State scored four runs in the second inning by getting back to aggressive base running. The inning started with a leadoff walk to Mackenzie Whyte. She took second on a sacrifice bunt and moved to third on a ground out to the left side. Lindsey Nicholson reached on an infield single to score Whyte and get the Broncos on the board. After a stolen base, Nicholson scored all the way from second on Jordan Kreiger's infield single to second base, avoiding a tag at the plate.
Tara Glover followed with a sharp double to right center, scoring Kreiger and making the score 3-0. Makenna Weir was the next batter up and continued the two-out rally with a line drive that rocketed off the glove of the third baseman. As the ball bounded into shallow left, Glover tore around third base and beat the throw home to score on the play.
With a 4-0 lead in tow, Work dialed up a perfect inning in the top of the third. Only an error allowed a runner to reach in the fourth as Boise State clung to the four-run advantage. That's when the opportunistic offense struck again.
Nicholson got things started in the fourth with a one-out double off the base of the wall in left center for her second hit of the game. It is the first multi-hit game of her career and she has a hit in each of her last three trips to the plate. Kreiger's infield single and a walk to Glover loaded the bases.
A foul out brought up Holly Bourke with two outs. Bourke worked the count full and drew her 21st walk of the season to drive in a run. She has taken a base on balls in 13 of the last 16 games. Bridges struck next with her two-run single before Whyte doubled to right center to put the game in run-rule territory.
Work allowed a leadoff single in the top of the fifth and two ground outs moved the game-extending run to third base. But Work, an adept fielding pitcher, gobbled up a comebacker and threw in time to first base for her career-best fifth assist to end the game and preserve the shutout.
The SpringHill Suites Invitational continues Saturday, with four games. Action gets underway at 10 a.m. (MT) with a pair of neutral-site games. The Broncos will take the field for a pair of games, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., at Dona Larsen Park.