FRESNO,Calif.-The 2011 Western Athletic Conference Softball Tournament came to an abrupt end for Boise State Friday, at Bulldog Diamond. A 7-0 loss to No. 1 New Mexico State sent the Broncos to the losers' bracket where they met host and third-seeded Fresno State. The Bulldogs capitalized on defensive miscues to score three unanswered runs and scratch out a 3-2 win.
The Broncos' postseason fate now rests with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The 64-team field will be announced Sunday, at 8 p.m. (MT) live on ESPNU.
New Mexico State 7, Boise State 0
Three Boise State errors allowed New Mexico State to score three unearned runs and stake a 3-0 lead after four innings. A four-run fifth inning provided the final score as the Aggies beat Boise State for the fourth time this season.
A two-out error in the first inning was compounded when the national home run leader, Hoku Nohara, launched a homer to left center, giving New Mexico State an early 2-0 lead.
Bronco starter Aubray Zell settled into a grove, retiring nine of the next 10 batters, before another error in the fourth proved costly. A single advanced the runner to third and another error allowed the Aggies to put a third run on the board.
Boise State looked to answer in the fifth inning. With runners on the corners and two away, Holly Bourke poked a sinking line drive into centerfield. Kandis Jones charged and made a headlong diving attempt at the ball. What appeared to be a trap went down as a spectacular defensive play to end the inning and the threat.
The Aggies took the momentum into the bottom half of the inning. The first three batters of the inning reached base, pushing one across. Zell got Nohara to pop up, but gave up a three-run home run to the next batter. It chased Zell as Lela Work came on in relief in a 7-0 game.
Work, who tossed nine scoreless innings Thursday against Louisiana Tech to earn the win, walked the first batter she faced. An out later, she gave up a single to put the game-ending run on third base, but worked out of the jam.
The Bronco offense was held at bay for the rest of the game, unable to muster a base runner in the final two innings.
Celisha Walker pitched a complete game for New Mexico State, allowing five hits and no walks. It was the first time the Broncos suffered a shutout since Feb. 25, against UNLV.
Work finished her WAC Tournament career with a 0.00 ERA in 18.2 innings of relief action across two seasons. She was named All-WAC Tournament in 2010.
Fresno State 3, Boise State 2
After becoming the first WAC team to sweep a regular-season series from Fresno State, the Broncos let an opportunity to eliminate the Bulldogs slip away. Boise State led 2-0 headed to the bottom of the fifth inning before things came unraveled.
Devon Bridges put Boise State on the board with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. It was the first hit of the game for either side. It was Bridges' second homer of the tournament. She finished 2-for-3 in the game, and 5-for-9 on the week.
Boise State added to the lead in the top of the fifth. Kelly Sweeney led off with a double down the left field line. She moved to third on a wild pitch and with one out Tazz Weatherly dumped a single into shallow right center to make it a 2-0 Bronco lead.
Aubray Zell shook off the loss to New Mexico State and pitched brilliantly against the Bulldogs.
Fresno State had only mustered two hits, each with two outs, through the first four innings before it broke through in the fifth. A pair of one-out singles put runners at first and second before a groundout advanced them both to scoring position. Hailey Gilleland battled in a nine-pitch at bat before coming through on a full-count pitch. A two-out double off the glove of a leaping Holly Bourke in left field scored two runs to tie the game.
A leadoff single from Christina Capobianco in the seventh, followed by a sacrifice and a groundout put the go-ahead run at third base with two outs. A strikeout ended the scoring opportunity and the game went to the bottom of the seventh still tied.
In the home half of the inning the Broncos committed two errors, and a passed ball to put the winning run on third base. A wild pitch ended the game.
Fresno State will play New Mexico State Saturday, in the championship game.