Broncos Make it a Sweep of Rainbow Wahine
HONOLULU-Boise State softball took both games of a Saturday doubleheader against Hawai'i to sweep the three-game series. The Broncos used an offensive outburst to win game one 7-4, and earned a 3-2 comeback win in the finale to hand the Rainbow Wahine their first sweep at home since 2005.
"Today we came out, saw they looked a little defeated from yesterday and took advantage," said head coach Erin Thorpe. "All of these wins are huge for us and now we know we can do it."
Boise State (29-15, 12-3) was 0-7 all-time against Hawai'i (30-16, 8-7) entering the weekend. The sweep comes on the heels of a series loss at Utah State, April 8-9, a team the Broncos were previously unbeaten against.
"Being able to respond like that means a lot," Thorpe said. "It's unfortunate we have to be in a big game to get up and be ready to play; but now we've put ourselves in a situation where every game is big. We've got to keep doing it for a while and this weekend proved we can do it."
One day after picking up the program's first win against Hawai'i, the Broncos struck early. They capitalized on two errors to score a pair of runs in the second inning. The damage all came with two outs, including RBI singles from Kelly Sweeney and Kellie Caplan.
Devon Bridges belted a two-run home run in the third inning off Rainbow Wahine starter Kaia Parnaby. It was Bridges' 12th round tripper of the year, moving her into second place by herself on the Bronco single-season list. It was just the sixth home run Parnaby has surrendered in 94 innings this season, and it chased her from the game. The blast also extended Bridges' on-base streak to 33 games.
A case of déjà vu gave Boise State a 6-0 lead. Christina Capobianco hit a two-run homer with one out in the fifth inning for the second-consecutive game. Capobianco has driven in a run in seven of her last nine WAC games.
Hawai'i entered the weekend having allowed 18 home runs all season, fewest among WAC teams. The Broncos hit three in the first two games of the series.
"It was something we focused on during practice Friday," Thorpe said. "We knew pop ups would not get over the fence here so we focused on hitting line drives. Line drives were going to score runs. We did a good job of staying on top of the ball."
Allie Crump started in the circle for the Broncos. Crump worked around wildness for the first four innings to keep the Rainbow Wahine off the scoreboard. She held Hawai'i to just one hit through four, but issued four walks and hit a batter. Still, Crump was tossing a shutout and the Broncos enjoyed a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
A leadoff homer from 2010 NCAA home run leader Kelly Majam put the Rainbow Wahine on the board. Two quick outs put the Crump in position to get out of the inning without further damage. Three singles, a passed ball and a wild pitch later it was 6-2. Crump got out of the inning, the fourth time she left two Hawai'i runners standing on the base paths.
Lela Work came on in relief for the Broncos in the sixth inning. The home team loaded the bases with one out. A single plated one run and a sacrifice fly scored another, but Work struck out the next batter as Hawai'i stranded two more runners and the Broncos clung to a 6-4 lead.
Boise State picked up an insurance run in the seventh, but left the bases loaded. Hawai'i stranded another two runners in the seventh to bring its total to 12 for the game. Boise State left 10 runners on base, but was able to cash in on enough opportunities to take its first series from the Rainbow Wahine.
The Broncos picked up 11 base hits, including two apiece from Bridges, Sweeney, Caplan and Tazz Weatherly.
Crump earned the win to move to 12-6 on the year. She allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks.
Zell ran into trouble in the second inning when the Rainbow Wahine scored two runs on three hits and were aided by a Bronco error. She escaped further trouble stranding a runner at third base.
The junior hurler was dialed in after that, allowing just two more base runners. Zell worked perfect frames in the third, fourth and fifth. An error allowed the leadoff batter of the sixth to reach. She would move all the way around to third as the tying run, but was left there. A leadoff single gave Hawai'i hope in the seventh, but Zell made quick work of the next three batters to preserve the sweep.
Zell moves to 12-2 on the year, including 7-1 in conference play. She needed just 70 pitches to record her sixth complete game against WAC opponents. Zell allowed just one earned run on four hits and no walks, while striking out eight. She has not allowed more than two runs in a conference game this season.
The Boise State offense broke through against Stephanie Ricketts in the third inning. The Broncos put the first two hitters aboard, but Ricketts worked around it to hold onto the Rainbow Wahine's 2-0 lead. In the fourth, the visiting Broncos did not squander its opportunity.
Crump singled and Bridges walked to start the inning. With one out, Sweeney ripped a double to center scoring one and putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Parnaby replaced Ricketts in the circle, and Vanessa Alvarez hit a pin-hit sacrifice fly to tie the game.
In the fifth inning, the Broncos turned two walks, a single and an error into an unearned run against Parnaby. Boise State left the bases loaded, but it had a lead and Zell in the circle. It proved to be enough.
Crump registered two of the Broncos' six hits in the final game of the series, including the game-winning RBI single. Her first hit of the game gave her 100 for her career. Weatherly picked up a base hit in the third inning, putting her at the century mark for her career, as well.
Parnaby took the tough-luck loss, allowing two hits and one unearned run. It was her second loss of the day.
Boise State is two games behind New Mexico State for first place in the WAC, and one game behind second-place Fresno State. The Bulldogs come to Mountain Cove for a pivotal three-game series April 29-30, for the Broncos' home finale.
"The key to that series is making sure we can maintain our confidence and do what we are capable of," Thorpe said. "We are going to need as much fan support as we can get and it would be great to have a big home field advantage next weekend."
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