Broncos Open Home Schedule Thursday

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

Boise State softball is home for the first time after spending the first five weeks of the 2012 season on the road. The Broncos welcome Idaho State, Minnesota, Portland State and Utah State to Boise for the SpringHill Suites Invitational #1. Action kicks off Thursday at 3 p.m., when Boise State takes on Minnesota. A complete schedule of the week's events can be found on page 3 of the complete release.

This is the second time in three years the Broncos will open their home slate against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota (17-6) defeated Boise State 3-2 in 2010, the only previous meeting between the schools on the softball field. The rest of the weekend will present much more familiar challenges. Boise State has played the Vikings, Aggies and Bengals a combined 21 times entering the tournament.

The Broncos will face Portland State (9-10) Saturday at noon and Sunday at 2 p.m. The Vikings advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Boise State will see former Western Athletic Conference foe Utah State (8-15) Friday at 4 p.m. The Broncos' lone game Saturday (4 p.m.) and the final game of the tournament Sunday (4 p.m.) will come against in-state rival Idaho State (3-18).

The tournament promises to feature strong pitching as the teams' aces own a combined nine conference pitcher of the week awards this season.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children. One ticket is good for a full day.

Live stats and live audio will be available for every game of the tournament at BroncoSports.com.

Stay current with all of the happenings in Boise State Softball by following the official twitter account of the Broncos @BroncoSportsSB.

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.

Boise State went 15-10 on its season-opening 25-game road swing. The mark tied the best start in program history through 25 games (2011) and the 2012 squad did it against the toughest schedule yet. The Broncos played seven games against teams ranked in the top 12 in both major top-25 poll. Nine games featured opponents returning from 2011 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five against teams that advanced to the Women's College World Series.

Seniors Aubray Zell and Allie Crump anchor the pitching staff for yet another year. Zell is a two-time Mountain West Pitcher of the Week after winning the weekly award three times last season in the WAC. She is 9-6 on the year with a 1.82 ERA and is on pace to break the single-season strikeout record. Crump, the career stirkeout leader, is 3-2 this season with a 2.85 ERA.

Crump is also a standout at the plate with four doubles, 12 RBI and a team-high eight walks. Sophomore Devon Bridges and senior Christina Capobianco continue to be the biggest power threats for the Broncos. Capobianco paces the team with four home runs and 16 RBI. Bridges is hitting .338 with three home runs and 11 driven in.

Boise State's top producer with the bat is at the top of the order. Sophomore transfer Tara Glover is hitting .443 and leads the team with a .588 slugging percentage thanks in large part to a school-record three triples. Glover has used her speed to score 20 runs and steal seven bases, both team highs. A native of Grants Pass, Ore., Glover transfered to Boise State from Utah, where she started all 51 games for the Utes as a freshman in 2011.

Zell and freshman Kenzie Cole have combined for two historic pitching performances this season. Against Cal Poly (Feb. 24) Cole started and pitched 3.2 hitless innings. Zell finished the game and kept the combined no-hitter in tact. Against Alcorn State (March 9) the roles were reversed. Zell struck out 14 in six innings before Cole finished the game with two punchouts to set the team record at 16.

Scouting Reports
About Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are off to a 17-6 start, thanks in large part to staunch pitching. The staff has a 1.32 ERA, good for 15th nationally, and is led by one of the most dominant aces in the country in Sara Moulton. The NCAA strikeout leader (158), Moulton ranks in the top 15 in wins (13; second), hits allowed per game (3.15; third), ERA (0.64; seventh), shutouts (five; 12th) and strikeouts per game (10.1; 13th).
All-Time Series: Minnesota leads 1-0. The Golden Gophers downed Boise State 3-2 March 19, 2010, at Mountain Cove.

About Portland State
The Vikings come into the week 9-10 and will travel to Boise after a date with top-ranked Alabama. Pitcher Anna Bertrand is alredy a four-time PCSC Mountain Division Pitcher of the Week this season and was a 2011 All-Pacific Region Second Team selection. Karmen Holladay leads the team at the plate with the most hits, home runs and RBI for the Vikings. Portland State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times since 2006, including two of the last three seasons.
All-Time Series: Portland State leads 3-0. The Vikings defeated Boise State once in 2009 and twice in 2010, but did not meet in 2011.

About Utah State
The Aggies were 8-8 to start the year, but a trip to Los Angeles left them with a seven-game losing streak. Kelley Kaneshiro  and Christine Thomsen are both hitting over the .400 mark to lead the offense, but no Utah State regular is hitting in the .300s as the team carries a .244 batting average. Shelbi Tyteca and Mandy Harmon have shouldered the bulk of the pitching duties. Tyteca has appeared in 19 games with a 4-6 record and ranks second in the country with three saves.
All-Time Series: Boise State leads 7-2. Formerly a conference rival, Utah State got its first two wins against the Broncos to take the regular-season series last year.

About Idaho State
The Bengals enter the weekend on a seven-game slide, dropping their season record to 3-18. Idaho State is hitting .244 as a team, but drawing enough walks to reach base at a .337 clip. Amanda Fitzsimmons was the PCSC Mountain Division Player of the Week after the first week of the season. Fitzsimmons has also been the Bengals' top pitcher. Idaho State has been doubled up on the scoreboard this season, plating 72 runs and allowing 146. The team ERA sits at 6.61, No. 266 in the nation.
All-Time Series: Boise State leads 6-3. The Broncos are 4-0 in Pocatello and just 2-3 at home against Idaho State. The in-state rivals did not play in 2011.

Last Time Out
Boise State went 2-3 at the DeMarini Invitational March 9-11, in Columbia, Mo. The tournament was highlighted by a record-setting strikeout performance in a 4-0 win against Alcorn State and a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Northern Illinois in the finale. The Broncos lost twice to No. 12/12 Missouri, 8-0 in five innings each game. They also suffered a 5-1 setback at the hands of Northern Illinois.

Tara Glover hit a  leadoff single in the first game of the tournament against No. 12/12 Missouri, but it was the only hit Boise State would get against the host Tigers. Missouri scored three runs in the bottom of the first and crusied to an 8-0, run-rule victory.

Aubray Zell turned in the most dominant pitching perfromance by a Bronco this season to lead the team to a win over Alcorn State in the second game. Zell needed just six innings to tie the school record with 14 strikeouts. She went 5.2 hitless innings before surrendering the only hit of the game. Kenzie Cole took over for the seventh and struck out two more Lady Braves to set a team record for a single game. The Broncos scored four runs in the third inning to provide all of the offense the pitching staff needed. Mackenzie Whyte capped the scoring with a two-run home run.

Boise State dropped both of its games Saturday, falling again to Missouri in the same fashion. Northern Illinois jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings and did not look back. Zell shut out the Huskies in 5.1 innings of relief, but the bats could not get hot.

The Broncos got revenge Sunday. After waiting out a one-hour, 23-minute rain delay, the teams took the field with Boise State trailing 2-1 in the fourth.  The Broncos scored twice in the frame without a hit. NIU tied the game in the sixth, but Glover scored the winning run in the seventh.

The Bronco offense took a step back, hitting .206 as a team at the tournament. No player registered more than four hits in the five games and Whyte hit the lone home run. In the circle, Zell apeared in four games, including three starts. She threw 22.1 of the 29.2 innings, allowing opponents to hit just .190 against her and posting a 1.88 ERA. The record-tying performance against Alcorn State helped her post 28 strikeouts on the weekend.

Boise State in Home Openers
The Broncos are 2-1 all-time in home openers. Boise State lost to Minnesota, 3-2, in the opener at the 2010 SpringHill Suites Invitational. Boise State was 2-3 in the inaugural tournament. In the opening weekend at Mountain Cove during the 2009 season the Broncos went 4-0 on their way to winning the first seven games at their home park.

USA Softball 'Watching' Bridges
Devon Bridges became the first player in school history to be named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List prior to this season. She is the only student-athlete from the Mountain West on the list and one of just eight sophomores, nationally, to make the cut. Bridges is the third player from current MW schools to be named to the watch list in the 11-year history of the award.

Glover Player of the Week
Sophomore Tara Glover was named the Mountain West Player of the Week for the week ending March 4, after hitting 9-for-16 at the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. Glover had a hit in all five games, including a three-hit performance against North Dakota State. The game against the Bison included her third triple of the year, a school record.She had her first home run in the finale.

Zell's Second Pitcher of the Week Honor
Senior Aubray Zell was named the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Feb. 19, her second weekly pitching award of the season. Zell went 2-1 in three complete-game appearances at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego. She registered a 1.05 ERA and a 14:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in her 20 innings of work, holding opponents to a .211 batting average.

Capobianco Boise State's Home Run Leader
Senior Christina Capobianco hit a fifth-inning home run against Cal Poly, Feb. 24, to surpass Kathy Cox (32; 2009-10)  for the all-time home run record at Boise State. Capobianco has 35 home runs (11 in 2009, 11 in 2010, nine in 2011 and four in 2012).

Shut it Down
Boise State pitchers did not allow a run for the first 20 innings of the season and recorded three shutouts during the opening weekend. Senior Aubray Zell had a personal 19-inning shutout streak to start the year.

Home Sweet Home
Boise State enters the season with a 15-game home win streak after completing a perfect 14-0 season at Mountain Cove Softball Field in 2011. It is tied for the third-longest active streak in the country. The date with Minnesota is the start of an 11-game home stand.

Broncos Playing Small Ball
Boise State leads the Mountain West in sacrifice bunts (20) and stolen bases (25). The Broncos led the WAC in sacrifice bunts (43) last season. Nine different Broncos have stolen a base this season, just eight players swiped a bag in 2011.

Zell, Cole Set Strikeout Mark
Aubray Zell and Kenzie Cole combined to set the Boise State record with 16 strikeouts March 9, against Alcorn State. Zell pitched the first six innings and fanned 14 to tie the individual single-game mark. Cole finished the game with two punchouts in the seventh inning for the team record.

Century Mark
Senior Kellie Caplan became the first player in school history to score 100 runs when she crossed the plate against Alcorn State (March 9) in the third inning of a 4-0 win.

Goin' Deep in the Desert
Boise State hit 10 home runs during their five games in Tempe, Ariz., March 2-4, at the Wilson/DeMarini Classic. The Broncos hit a season-high four in the opener against Howard. Christina Capobianco hit two homers against the Lady Bison, giving her a school-record four multi-homer games...Freshman Jordan Kreiger hit the first home run of her collegiate career against Wichita State. Tara Glover hit her first bomb as a Bronco against the Shockers. Holly Bourke, Allie Crump and Mackenzie Whyte also got their first homers of the year on the trip.

Broncos Playing Small Ball
Boise State leads the Mountain West in sacrifice bunts (20) and stolen bases (25). The Broncos led the WAC in sacrifice bunts (43) last season. Nine different Broncos have stolen a base this season, just eight players swiped a bag in 2011.


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