Broncos Prepare For First-Ever Home Game in State of Idaho Tournament
WHAT’S ON DECK: The new Mountain Cove Softball Field will finally make its debut this weekend as the Boise State softball team will play host to the State of Idaho Tournament on Mar. 6-8. The Broncos will welcome Northwest Nazarene, College of Idaho and Idaho State for the first-ever games played on the Broncos home turf. The first came will take place at 10 a.m. on Mar. 6 when NNU takes on Boise State. Games will take place at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. every day with a fourth game scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday.
FIRST-PITCH CEREMONY: Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson will be making a special trip down to Boise to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Mountain Cove Softball Field. The ceremony will take place at approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 7. Following the ceremony, the Broncos will take on Idaho State in the first-ever Division I matchup at Mountain Cove.
OLYMPIAN TO SPEAK AT FIRST PITCH BANQUET: Three-time Olympic gold medalist Lori Harrigan will be making a trip to Boise as the keynote speaker in the Boise State softball team’s first annual First Pitch Banquet held on March 5 in the Stuekle Sky Center. The banquet will include a dinner and silent and live auction. Head coach Erin Thorpe invites all of the Boise community to come meet the team as well as Harrigan on Mar. 5 at 5:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.broncosports.com.
ABOUT NNU: The Crusaders will make the drive from Nampa, Idaho with a 2-6 record on the season. Their last win came in game two of a doubleheader against Western Oregon, which is No. 28 in the Division II rankings. Their only other win came against Western Washington in the Crusaders’ season-opener when the NNU edged out a 3-2 victory over the visitors. Arielle Chao leads the way for the Crusaders this year in almost every major offensive category. Chao has pounded out a .435 average with 10 hits through eight games. She also has the Crusaders only triple and smashed one of the two Crusader home runs this year. She has been an RBI machine in the early-going with seven of the team’s 21 RBI. As a team, the Crusaders average only three runs per game and sport a batting average of .250 and an on-base percentage of .301. Opponents are hitting .387 against the Crusaders and have an on-base percentage of .456. So far, opponents have smashed 11 homers this season and scored 70 runs through eight games. The pitching staff has put together an ERA of 7.91 through 54 inning pitched.
ABOUT COLLEGE OF IDAHO: The Lady Yotes stroll into this weekend’s action with a 3-5 record but are fresh off a win against nationally-ranked Cal State San Marcos in the NAIA. The Lady Yotes took a trip to the NAIA World Series last year after winning the Cascade Collegiate Conference. They are also receiving votes in the NAIA poll. Jody Zillner as been lights out this year in the circle. She has jumped out to a 3-1 record and sports a 0.47 ERA through 30 innings pitched. Zillner has recorded 21 strikeouts while walking 11, but has allowed only two runs to cross the plate all year. Opponents are batting a measly .136 against her and she has tossed two complete game shutouts in three starts. Offensively, the Lady Yotes are hitting .215 with an on-base percentage of .253. Caylin Lepire has knocked in 4 RBI to lead the team, including a two-run home run in the Yotes first win of the season.
ABOUT IDAHO STATE: The Bengals make the trip to Boise with a 2-8 in only their third year of existence as a softball program. The Bengals last played on Feb. 15 when they suffered a 10-1 loss to the defending national champions, Arizona State. Two other notable losses have come at the hands of WAC teams San Jose State and Utah State, who were picked to finish sixth and seventh in the WAC, respectively. Caitlin McGrath is the only Bengal over the .300 mark with a batting average of .313. McGrath leads the team with 10 hits (all singles) and is a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen bases this year. As a team the Bengals are hitting .206 but have crushed eight homers in ten games. Jennifer Martense leads the Bengals with three homers and is second on the team with five RBI. Kandis Clesson has picked up both wins for the Bengals this year and sports a 3.75 ERA in 50.1 inning of work. Clesson has started and finished six games this year and has made three appearances out of the bullpen to lead the staff to a 4.81 overall ERA.
NOT MEANT TO BE: When the season began, the Broncos had five nationally ranked teams on their schedule. Since then, two have dropped out of the polls (Long Beach State and Nevada) and two have been rained out (Washington and Cal). Boise State will have to wait until April 24-25 to face a nationally-ranked team when No. 12 Fresno State makes the trip to Boise for a three-game conference series. Nevada also comes in to Boise on Apr. 10-11. The game against Cal was rained out on Feb. 7 at the Cathedral City Kickoff and the game against Washington was rained out last Sunday and was scheduled as the finale of the Husky Softball Classic in Seattle, Wash.
COMING IN BUNCHES: The Broncos have been dancing around the .500 mark nearly this whole season. The dance is being performed to the beat of different streaks. The year started on a two-game skid, but the Broncos rebounded by winning the next three games straight to get above .500. They wouldn’t be there for long as they matched their three-game win streak with a three-game losing streak to dip back below the .500 mark. However, Boise State came charging back by winning the next two games and getting back to .500 with a 5-5 record. Once again, the Broncos matched their hot streak with a two-game slide to finish the Husky Classic last weekend and gives the current record of 5-7. The Broncos will look to get on another hot and climb back toward the .500 mark with six games this weekend.
FIFTH INNING ONSLAUGHT: Wins haven’t been the only thing to come in bunches this year for the Broncos. Runs tend to come two or three at a time as well. In the Broncos only win of the weekend; they put up three runs in the fifth inning to take the lead and eventually the game from Seattle. The fifth seems to be the Broncos favorite inning to come alive as they have outscored opponents by nine runs in the fifth so far this year. The offensive outbursts have led to 15 total runs in the fifth inning, which is over 30 percent of the Broncos total offensive output and the only inning in which the Broncos have reached double digits in runs scored.
STRATON IS SIZZLIN’: Freshman Lexi Straton has caught fire recently, including a .571 average in three games last weekend. Two of her four hits this weekend went for doubles this weekend, one of which brought in the tying and go-ahead runs against Seattle. The two-RBI double proved to be the game winner in Saturday’s victory over Seattle. In the loss to Seattle, Straton had an outstanding 3-for-3 day at the plate to boost her average up to .500. Out in the field, Straton also caught three runners trying to swipe second. Runners are 9-for-14 against Straton in stolen base attempts, which leads all Bronco catchers.
ZELL CONTINUES TO DOMINATE: Aubray Zell has picked up all five wins now for the Broncos. She leads the team with a 2.52 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched. This weekend she picked up the victory over Seattle with a four inning outing in which she allowed a two-run homer in the fourth. The home run was only the second she has allowed all year. Zell was scheduled to pitch again No. 1 ranked Washington before the game was canceled due to rain.
AMONG THE WAC’S BEST: Freshmen Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo and Aubray Zell have etched their names among the best in the WAC this week. Viers-Gordillo currently sits at 12th in the WAC with a .345 batting average and Zell now has the third best ERA in the WAC at 2.42.
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