Broncos Face Tough Early Season Test in Vegas

WHAT'S ON DECK:  The Boise State softball team will try to put an end to its current three-game losing streak at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. It will be a tough feat for the Broncos as they face three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year - No. 13 Oklahoma, UNLV and Long Beach State. Also on the slate for the weekend are Indiana and a rematch with San Diego.

ABOUT UNLV: The Broncos will open the weekend with the host Rebels on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. (MT). The Rebels are 4-1 after the first weekend of play in the 2010 season. The year started off an a ad note as the Rebels hung up a goose egg in their first game, losing 8-0 against Illinois. The team caught fire after that and posted 34 runs over the next four games. Those four wins came against Cal State Bakersfield, Loyola Marymount and UC Davis. The Rebels downed UC Davis twice over the weekend. Last year, the Rebels received an at large bid to the NCAA Postseason Tournament and went 0-2 in the UCLA Regional with the losses coming against WAC Champion Fresno State and Long Beach State.

ABOUT INDIANA: The Hoosiers will be the first of two opponents for the Broncos on Friday when the two teams take the field at 10 a.m. (MT). Indiana will be looking for its first win of the season after going 0-2 in the opening weekend. Similar to the Broncos, the Hoosiers lost a pair of heartbreakers to Wright State and Jacksonville State. Sara Olson had a phenomenal weekend at the plate and in the circle despite the team's misfortunes. She hit .571 with two homer and 3 RBIs while posting a 1.17 ERA in six innings of work.

ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE:  Last season, the 49ers made their 19th NCAA Tournament appearance in the UCLA Regional. The 49ers went 1-2 with a win over UNLV and losses to UCLA and Fresno State. Their first day of the 2010 season was one to forget as the 49ers lost in extras to Loyola Marymount and were run-ruled by Illinois. However, the 49ers rebounded the next day with a 6-1 win over Kent State and an 8-5 win over Cal State Bakersfield. Nalani St. Germain hit .538 with two homers, six RBIs and seven runs scored. Christina Shallig also hit .500 on the weekend. Taylor Petty did the majority of the work in the circle, tossing 15 innings with a 1.40 ERA. She also struck out 13 batters and went 1-1. The 49ers and Broncos split a pair of games last February in San Diego, Calif.

ABOUT OKLAHOMA: The Broncos and Sooners will play in an early matchup on Saturday with the first pitch set for 10 a.m. (MT). The Sooners began the year ranked No. 10 and 11 in the two major polls. The Sooners took a hit in the polls with a loss to Tennessee to end their weekend. However, the team started hot by run-ruling Florida Atlantic to open the season and edging out Chattanooga 1-0. The Sooners dropped to No. 13 this week. Chana'e Jones and Haley Nix are both hitting .571 for the Sooners to lead the team. In the circle, Keilani Ricketts shouldered the bulk of the innings with 12.1 innings pitched and a 2.27 ERA, including a shutout. The Sooners hit only one homer last weekend but held opponents to a .174 batting average and allowed only four runs. The Sooners will be the highest ranked opponent that the Broncos have faced in their short history as well as the first Big XII team.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO:  The Toreros stole a couple of one-run games from the Broncos last weekend and went 3-1 to open the 2010 season. With the two wins, the Broncos are 1-3 against the Toreros all-time. Jennifer Ellenbeck led the Toreros in the circle with a 2-0 record and 11 strikeouts. She was named the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Pitcher of the Week. She also led the Toreros at the plate with a .545 average. As a team, the Toreros are hitting .238 and have allowed opponents to hit .297.

HEARTBREAKING OPENING: It was a heartbreaking weekend for the 1-3 Broncos. The Broncos could very easily by 4-0 as each of their three losses came by one run. San Diego twice held on to a slim lead for a pair of victories and UC Riverside hit a walk-off single to hand the Broncos their third straight loss. On the weekend, the Broncos actually outscored their opponents 24-23, but couldn't find a way over the hump to come away with a win in those close games.

PITCHING REVERSAL:  In the inaugural campaign, Aubray Zell was the first to find success in the circle as she was the only pitcher to earn a win in the month of February. Allie Crump struggled to open her freshman but found a rhythm when the Broncos played in their first home games in March. This year, it was Crump who found the most success as she posted 4.38 ERA despite taking a 1-2 record. She also recorded 14 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched. Zell struggled a bit to open the weekend as she only made it through five combined innings in two starts and posted a 12.60 ERA.

FRESHMAN SURPRISE:  Lela Work was a pleasant surprise for the Broncos' pitching staff, appearing in 9.1 innings of relief. She posted a 3.86 ERA, giving up only four runs although all four came in the same inning against UC Riverside. Work opened her college career with a nine inning scoreless streak as she limited opponents to a .275 batting average and struck out 10.

SENIOR POWER:  The three Boise State seniors all played very significant roles in the season-opening weekend and were often the spark in the Broncos' offense. Laeha Hill is leading the team with a .429 batting average and Jessi Hanna is third with a .364 average. Kathy Cox showed much of the power she displayed late last year, hitting two home runs and knocking in four RBIs. The three seniors collect eight of the Broncos' 18 RBIs this weekend.

POWER BATTLE:  Let the battle begin. Kathy Cox took a slim lead in the battle for career home run leader with two bombs this weekend. Christina Capobianco matched Cox on Saturday as each hit a homer, but Cox answered with another round-tripper on Sunday while Capobianco stayed inside the yard. Each power bat collected four RBIs to open the season.

BRONCO ON THE RISE:  Tazz Weatherly emerged last weekend as a Bronco hitter to fear. On Sunday, Weatherly hit her first career home run - a two-run shot that got the Broncos back in the game. With the two-run dinger, Weatherly tied for the team lead with four RBIs, which more than doubles her career total. She hit .385 on the weekend and scored three runs. Last year, Weatherly hit a meager .205 and had only three RBIs.

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