BOISE, Idaho - By any account, it was truly a devastating weekend on the Mountain Cove softball field for No. 25 Fresno State, but the stunned Bulldog squad will need to quickly regroup after being swept by Boise State for the first time.
On Saturday, the Dogs dropped both ends of their doubleheader - 3-2 and 12-9 - and any hope of a Western Athletic Conference regular season title is now in serious jeopardy.
Fresno State (29-14, 13-5 WAC) will enter the final weekend of WAC play in third place with an outside chance at sharing a three-way regular season conference co-championship.
Yet despite the losses, the Bulldogs also still have an opportunity to earn a first-round bye in the upcoming 2011 WAC Tournament through a combination of outcomes that should become clearer after first-place New Mexico State finishes their final WAC road series in Honolulu later Saturday.
This tense situation for Fresno State, the WAC's NCAA RPI leader at 27, developed after losing its first WAC season series in program history.
After falling 4-3 in the series opener to Boise State on Friday night, Fresno State continued to apply pressure early in games, but failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to put themselves in the driver's seat for the regular season title.
Junior pitcher Mackenzie Oakes got the starting nod in the circle for both Saturday games - the first time this season she started two games on the same day.
In her first outing, Oakes tossed a complete game and tried to limit the damage, but the Bulldogs couldn't overcome the Broncos' midgame rally when BSU scored a run in the third, fourth and fifth.
With Fresno State leading 1-0 following Nicole Angene's 240-foot second-inning solo home run, Boise State responded with a solo homer of their own in the third.
The Dogs countered on Angene's second RBI of the game - a single that scored Catilin Stiglich, who had reached on a single two batters earlier - to wrestle back the lead at 2-1 midway through the fourth.
That's when Boise State used Mackenzie Whyte's leadoff double that was tightly ruled fair down the left field line to swing the momentum back to the Broncos. Whyte later came around to score and Boise State added the game-winner an inning later.
As Oakes returned for the day's second game, the Dogs jumped out in front 5-1 before Boise State again turned to the fourth and fifth to put the game out of reach.
The Broncos' No. 8-hitter Megan Harvey launched BSU's third solo homer of the day in the fourth and Boise State built a snowman in the fifth on eight runs while chasing Oakes after 4.1 innings. In relief of Oakes, senior Ashley Cox made her first appearance in the circle since her freshman campaign and Angene later halted the frame as BSU pushed ahead for a 12-5 advantage.
Fresno State made a late push with four runs over the final two innings, but the seven-run deficit proved too deep to overcome.
On the day, the Bulldogs (3) and Broncos (4) combined for seven home runs and played in front of a record-setting 785 fans at Mountain Cove, which shattered the previous best mark of 425 for BSU's inaugural game in 2009.
With the win, Boise State completed its first undefeated home season at 14-0.
Fresno State will finish WAC regular season play at home when the Dogs host the Nevada Wolf Pack May 6-7 at Bulldog Diamond.
"We Are You Team!" - Fresno State returns home May 6-7 to play Nevada at Bulldog Diamond for Senior Weekend before hosting the 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament May 11-14. Tickets are available by calling 278-DOGS or visiting the 2011 WAC Tournament Central. You can always stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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