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A Look Back: Boise State Softball 2010

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GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

The Boise State softball team grew up fast in its second year of existence, which was really a tale of two seasons. A tumultuous start left the Broncos with a lot of growing pains and little to show for it.

The first homestand of the season helped right the ship and Boise State saw the wins start to pile up. By the end of the regular season, head coach Erin Thorpe and the Broncos had won five conference series-including a pair of sweeps-and locked up third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

Boise State also finished third in the 2010 WAC Tournament after two gut-wrenching, one-run losses to Fresno State ended the Broncos' run.

Leading the way all season was senior third baseman Kathy Cox. The team leader in batting average (.361), hits (69), runs (51), home runs (21) and RBI (51), Cox earned All-WAC First Team honors and NFCA All-Pacific Region accolades. Cox' all-conference selection was the first for a Bronco. It was the second-consecutive year she picked up an all-region nod.

Sophomores Allie Crump and Kellie Caplan earned second-team All-WAC accolades. Crump was a dual threat for the Broncos, batting .337 at the plate and picking up a team-high 16 wins in the circle. Caplan anchored the defense starting 56 games, mostly at shortstop. She scored 33 runs and stole a team-best 16 bases.

All of the honors and success were far in the distance when the Broncos started the season in San Diego.

After winning the first game of the season, Boise State dropped seven straight, including four one-run losses. The road got longer as the Broncos fell to 4-14 before playing a game in front of their home fans at Mountain Cove Softball Field.

Despite dropping three games during the SpringHill Suites Invitational, a record-setting four-game set against Weber State was exactly what the Broncos needed. Picking up its first shutout in more than a year in the first meeting, Boise State went on to outscore the Wildcats 48-10 in the four games. The second time the teams got together, Boise State posted school records with 16 runs on 19 hits. The Broncos and Wildcats squared off in a doubleheader the following day, with Boise State belting a record five home runs in the second game.

The final three games against Weber State started a seven-game win streak, as the Broncos carried the momentum into the first weekend of conference play.

For the second time in as many seasons, Boise State swept the opening conference series. In 2009 Utah State was the victim, this time New Mexico State could not cool down the Bronco bats. Cox matched her own school records by launching two home runs and scoring four times in the first game to set the tone. In all, she recorded five hits, scored six runs and drove in four more during the three-game series.

While the Broncos did not fare as well against the top of the WAC, the wins were still coming. Boise State earned its first win against Fresno State with a 1-0 shutout of the defending conference champions, but it was the only win they would claim against the Bullodogs or Hawai'i in back-to-back conference series. Despite the losses, the Broncos split each of the three nonconference doubleheaders in the midst of conference play.

After shaking off the losses to the Rainbow Wahine, Boise State took a doubleheader at Idaho State, April 13, before sweeping Utah State for the second-straight year to reestablish a winning record in conference play. The Broncos would not look back.

Riding hot play from a pair of freshmen, Boise State won two of three in each of its final three WAC series and wrapped up a 13-8 conference record, good for third place. Vanessa Alvarez put together a team-record 13-game hitting streak from April 17-May 12, which included four multi-hit games. Classmate Holly Bourke hit safely in eight-consecutive games from April 30-May 13, ending the regular season by hitting .800 in the three-game series at Nevada to earn WAC Hitter of the Week honors and help the Broncos clinch third place in the conference.

Boise State entered the WAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed, but was in trouble early against No. 6 New Mexico State. The Aggies put up eight runs in the first two innings before the Broncos got on the board. Freshman Lela Work was summoned from the bullpen to stop the bleeding. Work sewed the wound shut tossing five shutout innings, allowing just one hit. The Bronco offense did its part, roaring all the way back to tie the game on a Cox home run in the sixth inning, the fourth Boise State round-tripper of the game. A bases-loaded hit batter forced in the go-ahead run, and Work slammed the door in the top of the seventh.

The win set up a meeting with No. 2 Fresno State. Again the Broncos fell behind early, giving up three runs in the first inning, but battled back using the long ball. Sophomore Maghan Yurek got the scoring started with a solo shot in the third inning, and Cox homered in the fifth and seventh innings to tie the game at four. A run in the bottom of the seventh kept Fresno State in the winner's bracket and forced Boise State into an elimination situation.

The Broncos responded with comeback wins against No. 4 Louisiana Tech and No. 5 San Jose State. It took an extra frame to decide the game against the Spartans, but Boise State prevailed to advance to the semifinals and a rematch with Fresno State.

Having fought back to trail 4-3 heading into the seventh inning, Boise State committed three of its school-record six errors in the game during the final frame. The Bulldogs managed two runs to stretch their lead to 6-3 as the Broncos headed to the plate one last time. Cox hit her WAC Tournament-record fourth home run, a two-run blast, but Boise State could not manage another run and fell 6-5 to finish third in the tournament.

Work made another relief appearance and again kept the opponent off balance. The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, native pitched three more shutout innings, allowing just one hit to the Bulldogs. Work finished the tournament with a 0.00 ERA and a .074 batting average against to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Cox was also named to the all-tournament team, hitting .444 with eight RBI, six runs scored and four home runs. She capped her illustrious Bronco career with a home run in her final at-bat.

Overall, Boise State finished the season 29-32, including 13-8 in conference play and 3-2 at the WAC Tournament. The Broncos lost just two starters from the team and return an experienced bunch with room to grow as there will be no seniors on the 2011 roster.