Friday Thrillers Lift Dogs to WAC Finals
May 13, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. - The Bulldog softball team dug deep yet again and surged into Saturday's Western Athletic Conference Tournament finals by eliminating Boise State 3-2 and Louisiana Tech 1-0 on Friday at Bulldog Diamond.
Third-seeded Fresno State (34-16) earned a date with regular season WAC champion New Mexico State on Saturday at 2 p.m., which the Dogs must win to force a winner-take-all championship game that would be played at 5 p.m.
"We knew we had to come out and attack," head coach Margie Wright said. "Every team we had to play, we've wanted to play including tomorrow. We approach every team differently and every game is different, but the focus will remain on taking it one pitch at a time."
That mentality took center stage on Friday as the Dogs used a first-inning sacrifice fly for all the offense they needed to knock out Louisiana Tech as junior pitcher Mackenzie Oakes dealt a complete-game shutout for her first win of the day.
Oakes then made a relief appearance in a thrilling nightcap fueled by Haley Gilleland's fifth-inning two-run double and a game-ending wild pitch that scored junior pinch runner Kaylan Pollard to buck the second-seeded Broncos out of the tournament.
"It's an unbelievable feeling, but we're ready for tomorrow," Gilleland said.
The Dogs can officially lock up the program's 30th NCAA appearance with two wins on Saturday or will put a resume that boasts six top 25 wins, a 4-1 record against 2010 Women's College World Series participants and yet another rigorous non-conference schedule against fellow perennial national powers in the hands of the selection committee for a potential at-large bid.
"We Are You Team!" - Fresno State will play for their fourth Western Athletic Conference Tournament title on Saturday. 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).