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Broncos End Road Trip at Fresno State

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM Rebecca Patton tossed a shutout in her last start.
GOBRONCOSDOTCOM
Rebecca Patton tossed a shutout in her last start.
GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

April 11, 2013

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Boise State softball wraps up a 12-game road trip with a three-game Mountain West series April 12-14, at Fresno State. The Broncos and Bulldogs will play one game each day.

Boise State (17-19-1, 1-2 MW) dropped two games before winning the finale at New Mexico in its first conference series of the season.

Fresno State (22-18, 3-3 MW) won its first conference series at home against Nevada (March 28-30) before losing two games at UNLV (April 5-7).

The games will be played at Bulldog Diamond. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PT). Saturday's game will also be played at 6 p.m. (PT). The Sunday finale was moved to a noon (PT) start to accommodate Boise State's travel arrangements.

The former Western Athletic Conference rivals have staged some memorable battles throughout the years. Fresno State leads the all-time series 9-4, but the teams have split the last eight meetings with seven of them being decided by one run. Of the 13 games, 11 have been decided by three runs or fewer.

Live audio and stats will be available for each game. Find links on the softball schedule page at BroncoSports.com. Fresno State is providing a live video stream at GoBulldogs.com, available for a subscription. For in-depth, in-game coverage follow on Twitter @BroncoSportsSB.

Boise State is the only Mountain West team to start conference play with consecutive road series.

Locks of Love Event
Fresno State is hosting a Locks of Love donation event after the game Saturday, on the field. Boise State head coach Erin Thorpe will be taking part in the event and donating her hair to the organization which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Anybody in attendance with at least 10 inches of hair to spare is invited to participate. Registration can be done as late as at the game Saturday, but preregistration is being taken by sending a message to Fresno State Softball's Facebook page.

About the Broncos
Boise State softball is in its fifth season and second in the Mountain West. Head coach Erin Thorpe and the Broncos bring back five starters among the 10 returning letterwinners from their 2012 squad that went 34-20 and finished second in the Mountain West.

The Broncos are 17-19-1 on the season, including a 7-4-1 mark in their last 12 games.

The Broncos were led during nonconference play by a veteran presence. Juniors Devon Bridges and Tara Glover and senior Holly Bourke are once again at the top of nearly every offensive category including the top three batting averages, all .330 or better.

Bridges is the top run-producing threat with seven home runs and 41 RBI, more than double the number of runs driven in by the next highest Bronco (19). She is second on the team with a .383 average and 41 hits. Bridges also paces the Broncos with 16 multi-hit performances and 13 multi-RBI games.

Glover leads the sqaud with a .392 batting average and 51 hits. She has been on fire the last 18 games, hitting .477 over that stretch as she continues to return to last year's form when she batted .476 and led the country with 88 hits during the regular season. The junior leadoff hitter is also 20-for-21 on stolen bases, surpassing her own single-season school record.

Bourke is reaching base at an astoundig clip this season. Bourke owns a .485 on-base percentage (second in the MW) with 34 hits and 29 walks. She has reached base safely in 32 of the 37 games this season, getting a hit in 22 of them.

Freshman Makenna Weir has supplied the most consistent new bat. Weir has a .296 batting average. Her 15 walks, 19 RBI, three home runs and seven doubles, rank in the top three on the team in each category. She has started at five different positions in her debut season.

The pitching staff is led by junior transfer Rebecca Patton's 9-7 record and 3.81 earned run average. Patton was named Mountain West Pitcher of the Week earlier this season. She has struck out 77 and walked 43 in 104.2 innings this season. Senior Lela Work and sophomore Kenzie Cole have also shared time in the circle. Work is 4-6 with one save in 70 innings. Cole has pitched 59.1 innings and has a 4-6 record.

Boise State has gotten 108 starts out of its freshmen, starting at least three freshmen in 26 of the 37 games. Another 43 starts have come from transfers.

Scouting Report
Fresno State - 22-18 (3-3 MW)

Hitting
Fresno State is hitting .277 as a squad and averaging 3.9 runs per game, ranking in the bottom three of the conference in each category. Five Bulldogs have started all 40 games this season including Diane Runge and Paige Gomez, the only two batting above .300. Brenna Moss leads the Mountain West with six triples and 22 steals. Stesha Brazil is the top power threat with nine home runs.

Pitching
Despite throwing three freshmen, the Bulldogs' calling card is their pitching. Their staff boasts a 2.79 ERA with the first-year hurlers combining for all but three innings on the season. Jill Compton is 9-11 with a 3.64 ERA in 136.2 innings, including a no-hitter. Fellow freshmen Hannah Harris (7-5, 2.24, 81.1 IP) and Taylor Langdon (6-2, 1.49, 47 IP) have also logged considerable action.

Season Outlook
Fresno State was picked to finish second in the Mountain West in 2013, its first season in the conference. Head coach Trisha Ford took over the program this season when Margie Wright retired after 27 seasons. The Bulldogs missed the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the first time since the tournament's inception in 1982.

All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 9-4
Boise State Streak: Lost 1

Around the Conference
Colorado State (3-0) looks to remain the only unbeaten in MW play when it travels to Nevada (2-4). The Wolf Pack has taken one game from each San Diego State and Fresno State.

UNLV (2-4) hosts New Mexico (2-4) in the only meeting of two teams in their third week of conference play. Both teams won a pair of games in their last series and will look to break away from the middle of the standings as they hit the midway point of their conference seasons.

Preseason favorite San Diego State (5-1) has the bye from league competition this week. The Aztecs will play at UC Riverside Saturday, in nonconference action.

In midweek action Fresno State fell 5-4 Wednesday, at Cal State Bakersfield. Also on Wednesday, San Diego State took a 2-1 game from Cal State Fullerton.

Last Time Out
Boise State opened its Mountain West schedule April 5-7, going 1-2 at New Mexico. The Broncos lost the first two games by one run before taking a run-rule victory in the finale. Devon Bridges was 6-for-9 in the series with a home run and seven RBI.

Broncos in the RPI
Boise State checks in at No. 130 in the most recent RPI ratings (April 1). Thie week's opponent, Fresno State, is No. 112.

The Broncos finished 2012 ranked No. 57 in the Ratings Percentage Index, the best finish in school history. The Broncos peaked at No. 49 during the season, also an all-time high.

Tara-ing the Cover Off the Ball
Junior Tara Glover is heating up over the last month. Glover is hitting .477 in the last 18 games with 31 hits over that span, hitting safely in 15 of the games. During that time she has hit two home runs, a triple and five doubles, scored 20 times and stolen 11 bases (including eight in the last eight games). The 2012 Third Team All-American has three mult-hit games in the last four contests, including her second four-hit performance of the year.

Base Thief
Junior Tara Glover is 20-for-21 on stolen base attempts this season. The 20 thefts surpass Glover's own single-season record (18; 2012). She tied the single-game school record with three steals against Texas Tech (March 23-game two).

Her only caught stealing of the season came after oversliding the bag at second, March 24, against Tulsa. Before that she was 15-for-15, the best start to a season in school history. It snapped a string of 17-consecutive successful steals, also a school record.

Glover has stolen 38 bases in her two seasons as a Bronco. She is second in career steals at Boise State (Kellie Caplan, 46).

Turning the Corner
Boise State finished the first half of its season 11-15 with a .265 team batting average. In the first 11 games of the season's second half, the Broncos are 6-4-1 and hitting .330 as a team. Every regular starter is hitting at least .263 in the last 11 games and Boise State is outscoring opponents 69-42 in the stretch.

Bridges Raising Her Game in Late Innings
Junior Devon Bridges is one of the most dangerous batters in the Bronco order at any point in the game. But by Bridges' third plate appearance in a contest, she's nearly unstoppable. In the fifth inning or later, she is hitting .444 (20-for-45) and slugging .911 with 10 extra-base hits. Five of her seven home runs this year have come in the fifth or later. The Broncos have also beein getting on base ahead of Bridges in the late innings. She has 20 of her 41 RBI in the final three innings and extras. In the fifth or later she has only come to the plate with the bases empty 15 times, nine as the leadoff hitter. Bridges is hitting .514 with runners on in the fifth or later.

Bourke Getting Aboard
Senior Holly Bourke has a .485 on-base percentage for the season. Bourke has 34 hits and has drawn 29 walks. She has reached safely in 27 of the last 29 games and 57-of-110 plate appearances (.518) in those games, starting Feb. 16 at UTSA. The span included a streak of reaching in seven-straight trips to the dish between Feb. 17 and 22. That mini-streak was started by a 4-for-4 game Feb. 17 against Rutgers.

Whyte Hot
Junior Mackenzie Whyte is riding a nine-game hitting streak during which she is hitting .536. Whyte has 15 hits in the nine games, including seven doubles. She has a pair of three-hit games during the stretch. The hot streak comes on the heels of going 1-for-19 at Boise State's home tournament March 15-17.

Consistent Makenna
Freshman Makenna Weir has reached base safely in 28 of the 34 games she has appeared. Weir is hitting .296 for the year and has drawn 15 walks to reach base at a .395 clip. She is in the top three on the team in doubles (seven), RBI (19) and runs (20). Weir's versatility has also allowed the Broncos flexibility. The freshman has already made a start at five different positions this season, seeing time at catcher, second base, third base, left field and designated player.