Broncos Win Mountain West Title
May 12, 2018
BOISE, Idaho - Emotions ran high for the Boise State softball team, Saturday at Dona Larsen Park. The Broncos swept New Mexico in a doubleheader to complete the 3-0 sweep of the series, and Boise State celebrated the program's first-ever conference title, as well as the team's four seniors this season. The Broncos (40-14, 18-6), clinched the Mountain West title with a 10-1, five-inning win over New Mexico in the first game on the day, and earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The team's destination will be announced during the NCAA Selection Show, Sunday night at 8 p.m. MT (ESPN2).
"We're super excited about celebrating our Mountain West title, but I don't know if it's fully set in for me personally," head coach Cindy Ball said. "It's crazy to think how far we've come. To have that much faith ourselves and stick with the process is incredible to accomplish our goal."
Down 5-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning of the second game, Boise State won on a walk-off double from senior Madison Anthony to win 6-5, and achieve the first 40-win season in program history.
The conference title is the first in the program's 10 years of existence, as Boise State posted the highest win total in conference games to finish two games ahead of second-place San José State. The Broncos finished six spots ahead of their preseason conference ranking (No. 7) - the largest outperformance for any conference champion in MW softball history. Last time a team won the conference after being predicted to finish in the bottom half of the coaches' poll was BYU in 2001, when they were predicted to finish 5th out of six teams.
Boise State closed the season an absolute tear, finishing the season on a 13-1 run with three sweeps in their final four series.
"I really think we learned a lot from the UNLV series. That's where we got strong and kept going from there," Ball said. "UNLV is a great squad and they played well this year. For, us we didn't play our game in those first two games. We learned from that and didn't want to have any regrets and put our future in our own hands."
GAME ONE RECAP | Box Score
For the second-consecutive game, the Broncos score at least five runs in the bottom of the first inning to jump to a large lead. Anthony scored on an error by New Mexico pitcher Krissy Fortner, as Fortner's throw to first base was off the mark, giving Anthony plenty of time to score from second. Morgan Lamb would double to bat in Alison Seng, while later scoring on an error by the Lobo's third baseman.
Makenzie Sullivan highlighted the inning with a two-run home run to right field to give Boise State a 5-0.
Jessica McKay, Anthony and Lamb would all hit home runs in the game. Anthony and Lamb would both finish the game 2-for-3 at the plate, with two runs apiece. The Broncos finished the first game of the day a combined 9-for-22.
Lamb's two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth pushed Boise State to a 10-1 lead, giving them the runs they needed for a run-rule victory.
The Broncos got excellent pitching support from Gianna Mancha in the win. The freshman won her 13th game of the season - tying Aubray Zell's freshman record (2009). Mancha was lights out from the circle, striking 10 batters - a single-game high - to only two hits and four walks, with her only blemish being a solo home run in the fourth inning.
GAME TWO RECAP | Box Score
Still on the emotional high of being presented the Mountain West trophy in between the games, Boise State had to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the second game of the day and complete the sweep over New Mexico.
After scoring on a double steal in the bottom of the first inning, Boise State would enter the bottom of the third inning trailing the Lobos, 3-1. Cameryn O'Grady batted in two runs on a double she stretched into a triple after an error at the plate, and later scored on a single up the middle from Chelsea Johnson.
The Broncos responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run from Lamb - her second of the day. McKay would score on a single from Sullivan in the following inning to tie the game.
Back-to-back home runs for New Mexico in the top of the sixth put them ahead 5-3, and the Broncos elected to turn to Micaela Leal in the circle. Leal pitched the Broncos out of the inning, but would load the bases in the top of the seventh with one out. Kelsey Broadus would need only two pitches in relief to escape the jam, inducing a 63 double play to end the inning with the Broncos trailing by one.
"That's a tough game for them to come back and win after what we accomplished in the game before," Ball said. "What better way to finish it than having three seniors getting the job done again. Paige threw really well and it was awesome to see."
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