WAC Tournament Ahead for Broncos

Boise State softball travels to Fresno, Calif., for the 2011 WAC Tournament. The Broncos enter as the No. 2 seed.

Boise State (32-18, 15-6) opens its tournament run Thursday, a 3 p.m. (MT).The Broncos earned a first-round bye and will take on the winner of No. 3 Fresno State and No. 6 Louisiana Tech. That game will be played Wednesday, at 8 p.m. (MT).

The Broncos swept the season series from the Lady Techsters and the Bulldogs.

Tournament action opens Wednesday, at 5:30 p.m. (MT) with No. 4 Hawai'i taking on No. 5 Utah State. Top-seeded New Mexico State awaits the winner.

The double-elimination tournament continues through Saturday, with the winner earning the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Live audio and stats will be available for each Bronco game at BroncoSports.com. Live video is offered from WACSports.com for the entire tournament. Also see BroncoSports.com for a tournament central page and exclusive coverage throughout the week.

About the Broncos
Boise State softball is in its third season. Head coach Erin Thorpe and the Broncos return 15 letterwinners and eight starters from the 2010 squad that finished third in the Western Athletic Conference.

After a 2-8 start, Boise State posted a school-record 12-game winning streak behind dominant pitching. The Bronco pitching staff combined for a staggering 0.65 ERA in the last 10 games of the streak, a span that included a 41-inning scoreless streak.

The win streak propelled the Broncos into the confernce slate where they started 8-1. Boise State enters this weekend 15-3 in WAC play, fresh off a sweep of Fresno State. The Broncos became the first team to sweep a season series from the Bulldogs in WAC history, and are in first place in the conference.

The Broncos are 13-2 in their last 15 games. The span includes not only the sweep of Fresno State, but a sweep at Hawai'i. It was the first time the Rainbow Wahine suffered a sweep at home since 2005, and was the first three wins in the all-time series for Boise State. The marquee wins have put the Broncos in the national conversation, receiving votes in the Ultimate College Softball Top 25 Poll for consecutive weeks. Boise State has nine votes  in the latest poll, released Tuesday.

Junior Aubray Zell leads the team in the circle with a 14-2 record and  1.73 ERA. Zell has been named WAC Pitcher of the Week three times this season. Earning the Broncos' first win against Hawai'i, she became the only pitcher in school history to beat all seven WAC teams. Fellow junior Allie Crump joined that exclusive club with a win against Fresno State. Crump is 13-6 on the year with a 3.73 ERA.

Devon Bridges is enjoying a breakout freshman campaign, pacing the Bronco offense. Bridges is batting .381 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI, leading the team in each category. She has thrived in WAC play, hitting 10 home runs and driving in 29 while slugging .980.

Juniors Christina Capobianco and Tazz Weatherly have joined Bridges as the Broncos' hottest hitters the last 15 games. Capobianco is slugging .821 with five homers, while Weatherly is batting .410 with 12 runs and seven RBI during the span.

Scouting the Field
The Broncos are the only team in the conference to have played all five fellow tournament participants consecutively to finish the season.

No. 1 New Mexico State
The Aggies feature one of the most potent offenses in the country,  led by eight starters who hit .better than .350 in conference play. The Aggies rank first in the WAC in nearly every offensive category, but feature middle-of-the pack pitching numbers.
2011 Series: New Mexico State won 3-0 (May 6-7)
All-Time Series: New Mexico State leads 6-4

No. 3 Fresno State
The host Bulldogs tied for second with the Broncos in the regular season standings behind Michelle Moses and Andrea Ortega. Moses won nine WAC games in the circle and hit 12 homers for the year. Ortega hit .331 for the season, including .379 in conference play.
2011 Series: Boise State won 3-0 (April 29-30)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 8-4

No. 4 Hawai'i
Rainbow Wahine pitchers Kaia Parnaby (1.28) and Stephanie Ricketts (1.92) were the only hurlers to post sub-2.0 ERA's in WAC play. Jessica Iwata came on at the end to lead the bats, hitting .429 in conference play.
2011 Series: Boise State won 3-0 (April 22-23)
All-Time Series: Hawai'i leads 7-3

No. 5 Utah State
The Aggies finished in the top three in most offensive categories in WAC play and Shelbi Tyteca emerged as the staff ace down the stretch. Tyteca appeared in 19 conference games, picking up five wins and holding a 3.32 ERA.
2011 Series: Utah State won 2-1 (April 15-16)
All-Time Series: Boise State leads 7-2

No. 6 Louisiana Tech
The Lady Techsters took two of three from Utah State on the season's final weekend to punch their ticket to the tournament. Meghan Krieg carried the team as she led the league in innings  (106.2) and strikeouts (118) during WAC play. Louisiana Tech scored the fewest runs in conference play.
2011 Series: Boise State won 3-0 (April 8-9)
All-Time Series: Boise State leads 6-3

Setting the Table
As a team, Boise State is reaching base 42.8 percent of the time leading off an inning. Devon Bridges leads the way with a 56.7 percent success rate (17-of-30). Kellie Caplan has had the most opportunities and has taken full advantage. Caplan has reached base 26 of the 65 times she has come to the plate first. Six of Allie Crump's home runs have come leading off an inning, and she is 22-for-46 in the situation. Twelve different Broncos have reached base as a leadoff hitter. Boise State has 15 leadoff home runs this season.

Welcome to the WAC
Bronco freshman Devon Bridges made a statement in her first conference series, March 25-26, against Nevada. Bridges belted four home runs, including her second grand slam of the season. She was 5-for-7 on the weekend, driving in 10 runs with at least one home run in each game...Bridges followed that with a 4-for-8 performance in a three-game series at San Jose State April 1-2. She scored twice and drove in four runs, including a solo home run in the last game. Bridges also drew a walk in each game. She hit two more home runs, including another grand slam, against Louisiana Tech. Bridges had a hit in every game, including seven homers and 21 RBI, through her first three conference series.

Broncos Author Impressive Sweeps
Boise State became the first WAC team to sweep a season series from Fresno State just one week after taking three games from Hawai'i on the islands. It was the first home sweep of the Rainbow Wahine since 2005, and the first win for Boise State in the series.

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