WHAT'S ON DECK: The Boise State softball team will open its Western Athletic Conference schedule this weekend when New Mexico State strolls into Boise for the first time. The Broncos posted an 8-17 record but are 4-3 in their last seven games leading up to WAC opener on Saturday. The Broncos and Aggies will play a doubleheader on Saturday with the first pitch set for 1 p.m. and play the third game of the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
ABOUT NEW MEXICO STATE: Offense reigns supreme for the Aggies (17-10) as they have a .341 team batting average and 28 home runs. All-WAC player Hoku Nohara leads the way with a WAC-leading .462 average as well as seven homers and 32 RBI. Kylie Randall is also hitting over .400 and has a WAC-high 17 stolen bases to compliment the six Aggies who have over ten RBI. The Aggies have 37 stolen bases on the year and have given up only 18 stolen bases in 27 attempts. On the other side, the Aggies hold a WAC-high 5.26 ERA and allow opponents to hit .311. Aggie pitchers have also given up 26 home runs. Carissa Theis and Terry Schroeder have started the bulk of games for the Aggies but hold a 5.36 and 6.55 ERA, respectively. This weekend's series could feature a trio of slugfests as the Aggies have scored in the double digits eight times already this year but have given up double digits in runs in three times, including 22 runs to UTEP.
LAST TIME IN LAS CRUCES: The Aggies swept a three-game series from the Broncos in 2009 in Las Cruces, N.M. In the first game, the Broncos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning but fell behind on a grand slam by Tiare Jennings in the fifth inning. The Broncos hung up two more runs in the seventh but fell 8-4. The second game saw all 19 runs scored in the first four innings as the Broncos dropped a 10-9 heartbreaker. The teams traded six-run innings but the Aggies were able to scratch out on more run in the bottom of the fourth. The Aggies jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the final game and held on for an 8-4 victory. Kathy Cox hit two homers in the series while Jennings hit three for New Mexico State.
WEEKEND OF FIRSTS: The Broncos saw a number of firsts between Friday and Monday. Maghan Yurek, Megan Harvey and Ashley Collier all hit the first home runs of their respective careers. Jessica Kraft also recorded the first hit of her career. Aubray Zell tossed the first shutout of her career in the circle with an 11-0 victory over Weber State as well as recording her first career save. Georgia Behne also drew a walk in her first plate appearance of her career.
PROVING THE FRIENDLY CONFINES: Mountain Cove hosted seven games that included the Broncos in four days. In those seven games the Broncos hit 10 home runs while their opponents hit five. That is 15 homers in seven games, which averages to more than two homers per game. The Broncos had only 14 home runs in their previous 18 games. The key and challenge for pitchers this weekend will be keeping the ball in the park as the Aggies and Broncos rank second and third in the WAC in home runs, respectively.
COX LEAVING HER MARK: Kathy Cox transferred from Mount Hood Community College in 2009 to be part of the inaugural Boise State softball team. She led that team in batting average, hits, RBI and tied for the lead in home runs. Cox is doing her best to leave a lasting impression in the Bronco record books as she leads the team in all those categories for the second consecutive year. She already has nine round-trippers in 2010; only two shy of her 2009 total. She is tied for second in the WAC in home runs and has racked up 21 RBI, which also ranks in the top-10 in the WAC.
ZELL HITTING HER STRIDE: Sophomore pitcher Aubray Zell looks to be returning to the success she had in 2009. In just two weeks, Zell's ERA has lowered from 9.06 to 5.92. Last year's leader in wins picked up her first win of 2010 this weekend and has gone 2-2 in her last four starts. She tossed her first career shutout and earned her first career save as well. On Monday, Zell also recorded a career-high (and team season-high) eight strikeouts in a win over Weber State. The Broncos will need Zell to keep her ERA on a downward slope as they enter WAC-play this weekend.
CRUMP OFF TO A GOOD START: Allie Crump has been the Broncos' go-to pitcher over the first five weeks of the season. She has been handed a handful of tough luck losses but still leads the team with a 4.06 ERA and 52 strikeouts. The sophomore has already tossed 70.2 innings this year with six complete games. She has held opponents to a .274 batting average and has a team-high five wins.
19-RUN DIFFERENCE: The Broncos' 8-17 record is not an accurate reflection of their offensive output. The Broncos have crossed the plate 121 times this year, which is only 19 runs less than their opponents. The Broncos have allowed 140 runs. Despite having 17 losses, the Broncos are being outscored by less than one run per game.
TWO WEEK TURNAROUND: Just two weeks ago, the Broncos were struggling more than they ever have in the past two years. They held a 5.99 team ERA and a dwindling .249 team batting average with not one player hitting over .300. After this weekend's contests, the Broncos have cut their team ERA by nearly a run to 5.03 and have boosted their team batting average to .270. The Broncos will need to continue their upswing as they enter a tough WAC schedule.SWIPING MORE THAN EVER: After only 25 games, the Broncos have already swiped 27 bases in 28 attempts. In all of their inaugural season in 2009, the Broncos swiped 14 bases in 20 attempts. The Broncos have nearly doubled their number of stolen bases from last year with roughly half of the season left to play.