Softball Opens 2010 Campaign With Southern California Tour

WHAT'S ON DECK:  The Boise State softball team is itching to hit the field for its second season and will do so on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (MT). The Broncos will go head-to-head with UC Riverside and later with San Diego in San Diego, Calif. The Broncos will face the same two teams again on Sunday in Riverside, Calif.

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: With 3B Kathy Cox leading the offensive charge in 2009, she has been selected as the Broncos' lone representative on the preseason All-WAC team. She was also selected to the NFCA All-Pacific Region team after the 2009 season and will be expected to be the focal point of the Broncos' offense in 2010. The major task for Cox and the Broncos will be to repeat last year's story of finishing one spot higher than projected. The Broncos finished seventh in 2009 after being picked to finish eighth and be the odd-man-out when it came to the WAC Tournament. This year the tournament will feature a six-team format and the Broncos are picked seventh in the poll. The Broncos will have to jump San Jose State if they want to make an appearance in the tournament for the second straight year.

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS:  In 2009, the Broncos posted a 17-12 non-conference record, including a season-high seven game win streak in March against non-conference opponents. Before the start of the conference season, the Broncos never dipped farther than two games below .500 and were 7-1 against non-conference opponents at home. The Broncos are currently riding a three-game win streak against non-conference opponents.

THAT FIRST WEEKEND: Last year, the Broncos exceeded expectations by coming away with a 2-2 record after the first weekend of play. However, head coach Erin Thorpe is hoping to see a little more success to open the 2010 season. "We were happy to start 2-2 last year as an inaugural team," said Thorpe. "But this year we have higher expectations for ourselves. We want to come out strong in this first weekend and hopefully get four wins. Our goal is to build some momentum into that second weekend when we face some very strong competition." In the second weekend, the Broncos will face three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year in UNLV, Long Beach State and No. 10/11 Oklahoma.

POWER BATTLE:  Kathy Cox and Christina Capobianco proved to be the Broncos' power source last year, accounting for a combined 22 homers and 77 RBI. Both Cox and Capobianco launched 11 bombs, but Cox edged out the RBI battle with 40 compared to Capobianco's 37. Capobianco has two more years than Cox to set records, but Cox can still graduate as the Broncos all-time home run leader if she can launch more homers than Capobianco this year. It will be a battle to keep an eye on as Capobianco found her power stroke early in the season while Cox seemed to catch fire a bit later in the season in 2009.

RETURNING TO THE CIRCLE:  The Broncos will again feature the 1-2 punch of Aubray Zell and Allie Crump in the circle. The sophomores have to different pitching styles that granted each a bit of success during the inaugural campaign. Zell gave up more hits but led the staff with a 13-9 record, including the first six victories in Boise State history. It took Crump just a little longer to find her groove, but she was almost unhittable at points later in the season as she tossed two shutouts on the year and raked in 112 strikeouts. Expect both pitchers to see an equal amount of time in the circle during the Broncos 2010 campaign.

ONCE AGAIN, YOUTH RULES:  The Broncos may be one year older, but the team will still be one of the most youthful teams in the nation. Only three upperclassmen hold spots on the Broncos' roster in the form of three seniors: Laeha Hill, Jessi Hanna and Kathy Cox. All are expected to see significant playing time, but that means that at the very least six underclassmen will fill spots on the lineup card. The underclassmen portion of the roster consists of seven sophomores and eight freshmen.

» «