Boise State softball travels to the Tempe, Ariz., for five games March 2-4, at the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational, hosted by Arizona State.
The Broncos begin their weekend slate Friday, against Howard at 11:30 a.m. (MT), in the first meeting between the schools. Later Friday, Boise State will face the defending national champion and fifth-ranked Sun Devils at 7 p.m. (MT). The Broncos lost to ASU 9-3 last season in Fullerton, Calif.
Boise State will face Creighton and North Dakota State on Saturday. The game against Creighton is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (MT) and is the first meeting between the Broncos and Bluejays. NDSU, another team Boise State has never faced, returns from its third-straight NCAA Tournament. The Broncos and Bison will start at 3:30 p.m. (MT).
The weekend concludes Sunday with one game against Wichita State at 9 a.m. (MT). The Broncos and Shockers have met twice before. The teams split a pair of games in March 2010.
This marks the third-consecutive week Boise State will face an opponent ranked in the top 10 of the NFCA or USA Softball poll. The game against No. 5 ASU will be the third top-10 opponent in five games. The Broncos are 3-16 all-time against teams ranked in either top-25 poll. For this week's poll results, see page 6.
Live stats will be available for the game between Boise State and Arizona State online at BroncoSports.com.
Stay current with all of the happenings in Boise State Softball by following the official twitter account of the Broncos @BroncoSportsSB.
The Lady Bison have been off since Feb. 18, when they dropped two games to fall to 1-5. Their lone win came Feb. 17, as they held on for a 7-4 victory against George Mason. Through the first three games of the season, all losses to Savannah State, Howard was hitting .239 and was outscored 25-4.
All-Time Series: First Meeting
No. 5/5 Arizona State
The Sun Devils rebounded from two losses in the first three days of the season and have run off 10-straight wins going into the month of March. The team features strenghs on both sides of the ball with collective batting average of .349 and an ERA of 1.35. Sophomore pitcher Dallas Escobedo returns from a first-team All-America campaign and is 5-1 thus far in 2012. Senior Hillary Bach is 6-0 in the circle with a 0.19 ERA. ASU went 60-6 on its way to winning the national championship last season.
All-Time Series: Arizona State leads 1-0
Boise State Streak: L 1
The Bluejays come into the weekend on a three-game skid after winning their first seven games. Creighton outscored Arkansas-Pine Bluff 54-4 in a four-game series sweep Feb. 11-12, to open the season. Two wins against Northern Illinois and a victory over South Dakota State pushed the Bluejays' record to 7-0 before suffering three shutouts against then-No. 18 Louisville Feb. 24-25. Amy Baker paces the offense with a .519 batting average and 15 RBI. As a team, Creighton is hitting .322 and has an ERA of 2.79.
All-Time Series: First Meeting
North Dakota State
The Bison are 9-6 after going 3-2 at each of their first three tournaments of the season. NDSU has leaned on two pitchers this season as Whitney Johnson and Krista Menke have combined for 11 complete games and all 101 innings. Johnson, who was named the Summit League Tournament MVP in 2010 and 2011, is 6-3 with a 1.31 ERA.
All-Time Series: First Meeting
The Shockers enter the week 4-5 and have not played since Feb. 19, when they split games with Sam Houston State and North Texas. Sophomore pitcher Sloan Anderson was a high school teammate of the Broncos' Jordan Kreiger at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Ore. Anderson leads the Shockers with 26 innings pitched this season and is 2-3 with a 6.58 ERA.
All-Time Series: Tied 1-1
Boise State Streak: W 1
Last Time Out
Boise State went 2-3 at the Cathedral City Classic Feb. 23-25, in Cathedral City, Calif. The Broncos defeated Cal State Northridge (5-3) and Cal Poly (7-1). The setbacks came at the hands of Cal State Fullerton (2-1), then-No. 6/6 Oklahoma (9-0) and then-No. 1/3 Florida (3-0).
Devon Bridges delivered a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning against Northridge to break a 3-3 tie and lead the Broncos to victory in their first game of the tournament. Boise State could not capitalize on its opportunities against Fullerton, leaving 13 runners on base in a 2-1 loss. The Broncos also split two games on the second day, suffering their first shutout against the Sooners in a run-rule-shortened game. They rebounded with a 15-hit, seven-run outburst in the nightcap against the Mustangs as Kenzie Cole and Aubray Zell combined for a no-hitter. The week ended against Florida. The loss to the Gators was the Broncos' fourth loss against a top-10 opponent this season, with three of them coming by three runs.
Bridges was the top Bronco hitter, batting .400 on the weekend. She tallied six hits, including the decisive home run against the Matadors, her first of the season.
Despite seeing her hitting streak come to an end at 22, Tara Glover also enjoyed another successful weekend at the plate, going 7-for-18. Glover has hit safely in 14 of 15 games as a Bronco.
In the circle, Allie Crump won her only start of the weekend, pitching a complete game against Northridge. Zell went 1-3 and allowed eight earned runs to see her ERA rise above 1.00 for the first time this season.
About the Broncos
Boise State softball is in its fourth season and first in the Mountain West. Head coach Erin Thorpe and the Broncos return 13 letterwinners and nine starters from the 2011 squad that finished 33-20 and second in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Broncos welcome back the bulk of last season's production at the plate and in the circle. Returning is 93.5 percent of the Broncos' hits in 2011, 89 percent of the runs scored, 96.4 percent of the home runs and 96.8 percent of the innings pitched.
Seniors Aubray Zell and Allie Crump lead the pitching staff into the new season. Zell enjoyed a career year in 2011, going 14-5 with a 2.52 ERA and ranking third nationally by allowing just 0.80 walks per seven innings. Crump finished the year 13-7 with a 4.00 ERA, and set a school record striking out 6.24 batters per seven innings. Both earned All-WAC First Team honors and Zell was a three-time WAC Pitcher of the Week.
Crump also enjoyed a breakout season on offense and she will team with sophomore Devon Bridges and senior Christina Capobianco to guide Boise State's heavy-hitting lineup.
Bridges paced the Broncos during a record-breaking freshman campaign. She hit .393 with a .531 on-base percentage and slugged .785 while driving in 53 runs and drawing 37 walks, all single-season school records. She also led the team with 16 home runs as she was named first-team all-conference and second-team NFCA All-Pacific Region.
Crump matched her career home run total in the first two weeks of the season and went on to hit 10 in 2011. She was second on the team with a .338 batting average.
Capobianco enters her senior year one home run shy of the career mark at Boise State. She hit nine round trippers in 2011 and drove in 32 to claim second-team All-WAC honors.
Senior Tazz Weatherly used a strong conference season to hit .320 and score 32 runs on her way to being named to the all-conference second team.
Also back are the only three Broncos to start all 53 games last year in senior Kellie Caplan, junior Holly Bourke and sophomore Mackenzie Whyte. Senior Kelly Sweeney returns after starting 52 games at third base.
Junior Lela Work threw 79 innings during 2011, mostly in relief. Work ranked eighth in the country with six saves.