Boise State welcomes UNLV to Mountain Cove Softball Field Friday through Sunday, for the Broncos' first conference series as a member of the Mountain West. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m., with the Saturday and Sunday tilts slated for 1 p.m.
Boise State (26-13) enters the conference opener having played just once in the past two weeks- a 7-6 comeback victory April 4, at Idaho State. The Rebels (19-18) dropped two games against Southern Utah Wednesday, in their final tune up before league action.
UNLV was picked to finish second in the conference after a runner-up finish in the Mountain West a year ago. The Broncos were tabbed third in the preseason coaches' poll.
Fans can get into Saturday's game free of charge by showing their "Beat Coach Pete" t-shirt at the gate.
Live audio and live stats will be available free of charge for each game at BroncoSports.com. Live video will be available Friday and Sunday, and requires a subscription to BroncoVision. The Friday and Sunday games will also be aired on tape delay on The Mtn., beginning Tuesday, April 18, at 3:30 and 8 p.m. (MT). Check your local listings for channel information and additional air times.
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.
After a 15-10 start on its season-opening 25-game road swing, Boise State won its first eight home games. The 26-13 record is the best 39-game start in school history and the 2012 squad did it against the toughest schedule yet. The Broncos have played 10 games against teams ranked in the top 20 of both major top-25 polls. Fifteen games featured opponents returning from the 2011 NCAA Tournament, including five games against 2011 WCWS teams.
Seniors Aubray Zell and Allie Crump anchor the pitching staff for yet another year. Zell is a four-time Mountain West Pitcher of the Week after winning the weekly award three times last season in the WAC. She is 16-8 on the year with a 1.84 ERA and a school-record 145 strikeouts. Crump is 5-2 this season with a 2.78 ERA.
Crump is also a standout at the plate with six homers, four doubles and a team-best 26 RBI. Sophomore Devon Bridges and senior Christina Capobianco continue to be among the biggest power threats for the Broncos. Bridges leads the team with eight homers. Capobianco has parked five and has 25 RBI, while Bridges is hitting .327 with 23 driven in.
Boise State's top producer with the bat is at the top of the order. Sophomore transfer Tara Glover is hitting .434 and leads the team with a .612 slugging percentage thanks in large part to a school-record three triples. Glover has used her speed to score 33 runs and steal 11 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.
The Rebels are starting to find their bats, hitting .398 in their last four games after acheiving a .241 clip through the first 33 contests. Reigning MW Player of the Week Jaexie Balilea has raised her average 50 points in the span. Still, UNLV has hung its hat on pitching for much of the season, namely Amanda Oliveto. Oliveto, a two-time MW Pitcher of the Week this season, is 12-11 with a 2.27 ERA. The sophomore tossed a three-hit shutout against Boise State last season. The Broncos and Rebels have faced 10 common opponents. Boise State is 10-1 in those games, while UNLV is 8-3.
The Rebels and Broncos have met twice previously, once in each of the past two seasons. UNLV leads the all-time series 2-0, winning 11-3 Feb. 18, 2010, in Las Vegas and taking a 9-0 decision Feb. 25, 2011, in Riverside, Calif. The 2011 meeting was a turning point in the Broncos' season. The loss sent Boise State to 2-8 and was the second-consecutive shutout. The Broncos won their next 12 games, scoring 92 runs and posting a 1.77 ERA as a staff during the stretch.
Boise State in Conference Openers
The Broncos have started their conference seasons off right every year. Boise State scored three-game sweeps in league openers in each of the program's first three seasons. The Broncos opened Western Athletic Conference play during their inaugural 2009 season with three road wins at Utah State. In 2010, Boise State welcomed New Mexico State to Mountain Cove Softball Field by taking all three games. Last year, the Broncos swept Nevada in Boise, during Devon Bridges' coming-out party. Bridges went 5-for-7 with four home runs and 10 RBI against the Wolf Pack.
Home Sweet Home
Boise State is riding a 23-game home win streak after eight wins over two tournaments at Mountain Cove Softball Field March 15-25. It is the second-longest active streak in the country. The last time the Broncos lost at home was May 1, 2010, in the first game of a doubleheader against San Jose State.
Top of the Mountain
Sophomore Tara Glover ranks first in the Mountain West in batting average (.434), hits (56), triples (3) and stolen bases (11). In 2011, while at Utah, Glover led the league in triples and ranked in the top five in runs and hits. Senior Aubray Zell leads the MW in earned run average (1.84), opponent batting average (.192), wins (16), shutouts (4), strikeouts (145), innings (152), starts (23) and complete games (15).
Broncos in the RPI
Boise State fell one spot to No. 54 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index. The Broncos peaked at No. 72 last season before finishing 79th. New Mexico leads the Mountain West with a No. 41 rating. The RPI will be released every Monday, through May 7.
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.
Crump in the Clutch
Four of Allie Crump's six home runs this season have come in the sixth inning or later. Crump hit the third walk-off home run in school history with two outs in the bottom of the seventh March 16, against Portland State. She also hit a game-winning blast April 11, at Idaho State with two outs in the top of the ninth. Crump's solo shot against the Bengals was the first extra-inning home run in school history.
Been Here Before
Boise State's senior class has combined for 819 career starts in the batting order. Of the 205 games played in program history, seniors Allie Crump and Aubray Zell have combined to start 177 of them in the circle. Kellie Caplan leads the position players with 199 games played and 191 starts. Zell has pitched in 110 games, starting 91 of them, both school records.