Bulldogs Boise-Bound For MW Opener
Whitney Smith and Brooke Ortiz have helped the 'Dogs turn nine double plays already this year.
Whitney Smith and Brooke Ortiz have helped the 'Dogs turn nine double plays already this year.

March 19, 2014


Up Next: Boise State (15-12, 0-0)
Dates: Friday-Sunday, March 21-23, 2014
Location: Dona Larsen Field, Boise, Idaho
All-Time Series Record: Fresno State Leads, 12-4
Most Recent Meetings: Fresno State won 2013 series, 3-0 (5-0, 7-4, 3-1)
Game Videostream Links

Friday, March 21 - 2 p.m. Pacific Time / 3 p.m. Mountain Time Game 1 Live Stats
Saturday, March - 222 p.m. Pacific Time / 3 p.m. Mountain Time Game 2 Live Stats
Sunday, March 23 - Noon Pacific Time / 1 p.m. Mountain Time Game 3 Live Stats

This Thursday-Saturday, the Fresno State softball team (15-10, 0-0) kicks off its second season of Mountain West Conference play with a three-game set at Boise State (15-12, 0-0) on March 21-23.

The Broncos come off two straight home tournaments and posted an 8-2 mark in the SpringHill Suites Invitational I and II, and finished fourth in the MW last year - two places behind the `Dogs (second).

Last weekend in the Fresno State Classic, the `Dogs wrapped up their six-tournament early-season slate with a 3-2 mark in the Fresno State Classic. The `Dogs beat Ohio State (3-1), New Mexico State (6-4) and St. Mary's (3-0), and fell to Pacific (5-3) and Cal Poly (6-1) to move their home season ledger to 8-2.

With its blanking of St. Mary's, Bulldog pitchers have posted six shutouts on the year, including three 1-0 decisions vs. NCAA returnees (No. 6 Washington, No. 14 Nebraska and N.C. State).

For the five games on the weekend, five Bulldog starters topped .300 - junior center fielder Brenna Moss (.375, 6H, 2B, 2 SB), freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (.364, 4H, RBI, 2 BB, SB), junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (.357, 5H, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (.333, 5H, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB) and sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (.308, 4 H, 2B, 2 RBI).

Thanks to Stesha Brazil's and Michelle Solomon's fifth and third homers of the season vs. NMSU, Fresno State had two different players homer in a game for the first time this season.

Sophomore Jill Compton pitched 25 of the team's 35 innings last weekend, and led the squad in ERA (0.84), wins (3), appearances (4), starts (3), shutouts (1) and lowest opponent batting average (.200).

RECENT BULLDOG STARTERS (2014/2013/Career Starts)
C: Paige Gumz (25/54/79)
1B: Stesha Brazil (25/51/135)
2B: Whitney Smith (25/54/79)
3B: Vonnie Martin (25/49/112)
SS: Brooke Ortiz (19/18/150)
LF: Kapri Angotti (23/32/55), Kierra Willis (19-/19)
CF: Brenna Moss (25/51/134)
RF: Michelle Solomon (25/54/115)
DP: Kapri Angotti (23/32/55), Taylor Green (6/-/8)
P: Jill Compton (14/31/45), Hannah Harris (8/18/26); Kiley Shae Aldridge (2/-/4)

• Last Sunday, All-MW returnee Jill Compton logged her fourth shutout of the year in the 3-0 finale over St. Mary's, and allowed no walks for the first time in 2014, along with four hits, and struck out four. In Friday's 3-1 win over Ohio State, she registered a season-high nine strikeouts and allowed only one earned run. In her 6-4 decision Saturday over New Mexico State, she pitched the final six innings, and her seven strikeouts was her second-best tally of season. She also made the Thursday start vs. Pacific, and allowed no earned runs in five innings, struck out two and walked one.

• Returning All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss was the lone Bulldog to log a pair of multi-hit games with her efforts vs. Pacific (2-for-4) and Cal Poly (2-for-3). She also hit safely once vs. NMSU (1-for-3) and St. Mary's (1-for-3) to give her hits in four contests on the weekend and 16 overall this year. She stole single bases vs. both Cal Poly and NMSU to give her a team-high 11 on the season and 56 career-wise (second-most all-time for Fresno State). For the five combined tourney games on the weekend, she led the squad in batting (.375), hits (6), doubles (1) and stolen bases (2), and stood fourth in slugging (.438) and on-base percentage (.375).

• Junior right fielder Michelle Solomon hit safely in four games last weekend, including her fourth multi-hit game of the year vs. New Mexico State (2-for-3, HR, RBI). Her homer vs. the Aggies was her third of the year and marked her team-leading ninth extra-base hit of the campaign. She also laid down a key sixth-inning bunt single vs. the Aggies and later scored to help `Dogs to a three-run inning and retake the lead.

• Senior first baseman Stesha Brazil clubbed her team-leading fifth homer of 2014 vs. New Mexico State, and the two-run shot was her 21st the last 2 1/2 seasons (and eighth-most all-time for Bulldogs). Her 2-for-3 day vs. NMSU marked her fifth multi-hit game and seventh multi-RBI contest of the season. She also had her third game-winning RBI of the year vs. the Aggies (an RBI single), and logged a walk and stolen base vs. Cal Poly.

• Freshman left fielder Kierra Willis logged her third multi-hit game of the season vs. Ohio State (2-for-3). She also reached base in three of the other four tourney games vs. Pacific (1-for-1), New Mexico State (0-2, BB) and St. Mary's (1-for-2, BB, SB) to give her similar honors in 21 of the last 24 games this year.

• Junior DP Taylor Green has started six of the last nine games at DP to go along with a team-high 12 pinch-hit appearances on the season. Her double vs. St. Mary's was her third two-bagger the last 22 at-bats, while others came in back-to-back pinch-hit appearances vs. Virginia and LIU Brooklyn in Palm Springs. Two weeks ago, she had her first multi-hit game of the season vs. No. 6 Washington (2-for-3), and her first RBI came vs. St. Mary's via a seventh-inning infield ground-out. Overall she has hit safely in six of her last 10 games.

• Sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith has hit safely in five of the last six games including a double vs. Ohio State, and a two-run single in the sixth inning vs. New Mexico State in the 6-3 victory. Two weekends ago, she claimed her first game-winning RBI of 2014 with her fifth-inning RBI single in the 1-0 win against No. 6 Washington.

• Last week, redshirt sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge was tabbed the MW Pitcher of the Week after her first career shutout and 1-0 win over No. 6 Washington two Sundays ago. That start was her first in nearly two years after redshirting last year because of a knee injury/surgery and featured nine strikeouts - a team season high (and three times her previous career best (3)) - and only three hits allowed.

• On Sunday vs. St. Mary's, sophomore catcher Paige Gumz lined a sixth-inning two-run single up the middle in the 3-0 win. In mid-February, her first multi-hit effort of the year came in the Mary Nutter Classic vs. Virginia (2-for-5), and she also threw out a base stealer that day vs. both Virginia and Texas.

• In her first start in nearly three weeks, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz hit a game-winning RBI infield single in the fifth inning of the 3-1 win vs. Ohio State.

• Against Pacific last weekend, senior third baseman Vonnie Martin logged her team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the season with her 2-for-3 day. She hit her third homer of the year vs. the Tigers and also had a RBI single. She also drew two walks vs. New Mexico State to up her team-leading count of 24.

This week, two Bulldog pitchers ranked first in the league in four categories courtesy of sophomores Taylor Langdon (saves, 4; games finished, 9; games in relief) and Kiley Shae Aldridge (ERA, 1.11).

Former All-MW honoree and sophomore right-hander Jill Compton added third-place rankings in wins (10), starts (14) and opponent batting (.216), and stood fourth in ERA (1.94) and innings (90), and fifth in strikeouts (67).

At the plate, four `Dogs were spotted offensively - junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (triples, second, 2), senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, third, 24), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (homers, fourth, 5; RBI, fifth, 25) and All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss (stolen bases, fourth, 11; runs, eighth, 19; hits, eighth, 28).

Team-wise, the Bulldog pitchers still pace the conference in saves (4), and stood second in lowest opposing batting average (.248) and second in ERA (2.76).

In the second edition of the NCAA's weekly softball rankings released this week, sophomore pitcher Taylor Langdon ranked second nationally in the saves category (4).

Six other `Dogs stood top 100 nationally - senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, ninth, 0.96 p/g), sophomore pitcher Jill Compton (shutouts, 22nd, 4), junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (triples, 59th, 2), sophomore catcher Paige Gumz (sacrifice flies, 52nd, 2), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (RBI, 63rd, 1.00 p/g) and junior center fielder Brenna Moss (stolen bases, 79th, 0.44 p/g).

Team-wise, Fresno State's highest national rankings were in triples (62nd, 0.24 p/g), double plays (67th, 0.36 p/g), ERA (68th, 2.76), stolen bases (78th, 1.28 p/g) and win-loss percentage (86th, .600).

Fans can find NCAA statistics updated every Monday at the http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings/ranking_summary URL address.

In last year's mid-April series in Fresno, the `Dogs won all three games vs. the Broncos by 5-0, 7-4 and 3-1 counts.

Four Bulldog batters hit +.300 - Paige Gumz (.778, 7H, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Brenna Moss, .545, 6H, 3B, RBI), Vonnie Martin (.444, 4H, 2 2B, 5 RBI) and Maria Sio (.333, 2H).

In the 5-0 series-opening win, Fresno State scored two runs in the second inning and three in the third, and Gumz accounted for the game-winning RBI on a double that scored Martin who had also doubled. In the second game, the `Dogs scored in each of the first five innings en route to a 7-4 win, and Martin's two-run single in the first inning proved the game-winner. In the finale, the `Dogs relied on a three-run first inning in the 3-1 win with Martin ripping a two-run double down the left field line, while Gumz followed with another two-out RBI double.

Sophomore Jill Compton claimed two wins after starting the first and third games of the series. In her combined 11 innings, she struck out five, walked two and allowed seven hits and one unearned run.

Sophomore Hannah Harris won her second-game start and appeared in another contest in relief. In her 9.2 innings, struck out two, walked one, and gave up eight hits.

Fresno State owns a 12-4 all-time advantage vs. Boise State in their four seasons of meetings in 2009, `10, `11 and `13.

Last year, the `Dogs won all three tilts (5-0, 7-4, 3-1), in head coach Trisha Ford's first season at the helm. Fresno State also won all four games in 2009 (6-3, 11-8, 10-9, 4-0) and four of five in 2010 (5-0, 3-2, 5-4, 6-5 wins; 1-0 loss), while Boise State took three of four games in 2011 (4-3, 3-2, 12-9; FS 3-2 win).

BRONCO SCOUTING REPORT (www.BroncoSports.com)
The last two weekends, Boise State (15-12, 0-0) has gone 8-2 at home tournaments with wins over Idaho State (1-0, 4-1), Southern Utah (4-3, 6-4), Lafayette (11-4), Valparaiso (7-0, 6-5) and Indiana (3-2). Other notable wins earlier in the year came vs. Pacific (4-3), Oregon State (10-2), UTEP (16-9) and Utah (6-1). The squad returns nine starters and 15 letterwinners from last year's unit that went 25-26-1 overall and placed fourth in the MW (9-9). Career stolen bases record holder and senior center fielder Tara Glover has reset the school season stolen base record in both 2012 (18) and 2013 (27), and already has 17 this year, as does senior shortstop Mackenzie Whyte. Entering last week's five-game set, senior first baseman Devon Bridges ranked sixth nationally among active players in homers (43) and 11th in RBI (153), and Glover stood seventh in career hits (232). Sixth-year head coach Erin Thorpe sports a 162-141-1 mark at the helm of the Broncos, and served as the head coach the prior five years at Whittier College (50-153). As a player, she was a four-time All-West Region shortstop at UCSD and an All-American as a senior.

With four saves already this season, sophomore Taylor Langdon has already tied a team season record, and that same total ties for seventh-most in a career for the `Dogs.

At the plate, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil drilled her fifth homer of the season last week in the Fresno State Classic, and her 21 career-wise is eighth-best in school history.

Junior center fielder Brenna Moss stole two more bases last weekend to up her career total to 56 - second-best for Fresno State just ahead of former All-American Becky Witt (third, 51, 1998-2001). Her mid-February triple against No. 2 Tennessee moved her to 15 career-wise and into a tie for fifth all-time for the `Dogs, and her four runs opening week vs. UC Riverside tied a team game record shared by four other Bulldogs.

Last year, Moss smashed the school stolen bases record with her 34 swipes - seven better than the former mark (27) shared by Haley Gilleland (2011) and Karen Tabor. Moss's nine triples was also second-best in `Dog history behind All-American Laura Berg (11, 1995), while two others stood top 15 - Maria Sio (sacrifices, 14th-tie, 19) and Vonnie Martin (hitting streak, eighth-tie, 14 games). Among other all-time Bulldog game bests, Moss's three stolen bases vs. New Mexico tied a school record.

Sophomore pitcher Jill Compton also made history with the program's 70th no-hitter vs. St. Mary's last February. Her seven-inning, five-strikeout performance also made her the first Bulldog freshman to achieve the feat since 2006.

Last year, the squad combined for a school record 87 stolen bases in 54 contests. For comparison's sake in 2014, the `Dogs have already swiped 33 bases after 25 games (which would equate to 67 in a 51-game season).

Second-year Fresno State head coach Trisha Ford welcomes back starters at seven of the eight field positions, and 2013's top three pitchers.

All four of last year's All-MW picks are also back - senior infielder Vonnie Martin, junior outfielder Brenna Moss and sophomore pitcher Jill Compton and catcher Paige Gumz - while senior infielder Brooke Ortiz was an All-WAC choice in 2011.

Other starters back from 2013 include senior outfielder Kapri Angotti, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil, junior outfielder Michelle Solomon and sophomore infielder Whitney Smith.

Last year in Ford's first season, the Bulldogs went 30-24 overall and tied for second in the MW Conference with an 11-7 mark.

Head Coach Trisha Ford and the Bulldogs have looked to their seven-member newcomer class to make an immediate impact in the spring of 2014.

Her first recruiting class is entirely from California and includes catcher Niki Kaleialii (Oakley), infielder Liza Liddell (La Verne), and outfielders Melissa Gilbert (Merced), M.J. Jimenez (Newark), Alanna Layton (Acton), Christina Rodriguez (Livingston) and Kierra Willis (Pleasant Hill).

Kaleialii helped her team to three Bay Valley Athletic titles and was a two-time captain; Liddell was a four-time all-league selection at third base and shortstop; Jimenez was a three-time All-League pick; Gilbert helped lead Merced High School to three CCC titles; Layton was a CIF All-League First-Team choice; Rodriguez was a multiple all-conference choice; and Willis was a four-time first-team all-league selection.

Willis has started 19 games this year, while Liddell has made six starts at second base among her 12 appearances. Rodriguez had appeared in 16 games as a pinch-runner and stole bases vs. Sacramento State and Long Beach State; Jimenez pinch-ran ran vs. No. 8 Oregon and Riverside; and Kaleialii saw time behind the plate vs. UC Riverside and No. 25 Texas.

Among the Bulldogs' 51 games this year against 31 opponents, its non-conference slates features five WCWS returnees in 2013 national runner-up Tennessee, Arizona State, Nebraska, Texas and Washington.

In the opening months of the year, Fresno State faces another Super Regional advancer (Oregon), a seventh NCAA Regional Finalist (N.C. State) and four other NCAA tourney qualifiers (Arizona, Houston, San Diego State and San Jose State).

Overall, the `Dogs will play 16 contests against 11 squads that advanced to last year's 64-team NCAA tournament field (not to mention four teams that have combined for 12 national titles in their school histories).

Not only do 23 of the 24 members of the Bulldog roster hail from California, but many proudly call the Central Valley their home.

Two players are from the Fresno area directly - seniors Kapri Angotti (Clovis) and Kim Fisher (Fresno) - and also played their initial collegiate seasons at Fresno City College. Two others' hometowns are less than an hour's drive away - freshman Melissa Gilbert (Merced) and sophomore Bria Kennedy (Hanford) - and two other starters are from the Central Valley, senior Stesha Brazil (Turlock) and junior Brenna Moss (Bakersfield).

Looking northward, seven players matriculated from the Bay Area - freshmen Christina Rodriguez (Livingston), Niki Kaleialii (Oakley), M.J. Jimenez (Newark) and Kierra Willis (Pleasant Hill), sophomores Kiley Shae Aldridge (Lompoc) and Whitney Smith (Auburn) and senior Brooke Ortiz (Lodi).

Ten players hail from the nation's most fertile softball fields (Southern California) - freshmen Alanna Layton (Acton) and Liza Liddell (La Verne),sophomores Jill Compton (Oceano); Hannah Harris (Santa Barbara), Taylor Langdon (Glendora) and Paige Gumz (Chino Hills) and juniors Michelle Solomon (Beaumont), Maria Sio (Lake Forest), Kelly Megee (Riverside) and Taylor Green (Chino Hills).

The team's only non-California resident is senior Vonnie Martin (Plano, Texas) who is only a 22-hour 1,556-mile drive from Fresno.

After a successful season on the field and in the classroom, six Fresno State softball players were named to the 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete team that was released last October.

The group of senior infielder Brooke Ortiz, junior infielder Kelly Megee and catcher/infielder Taylor Green, sophomore pitcher/utility player Hannah Harris and Taylor Langdon and former senior outfielder Diane Runge were selected based on their +3.50 grade point averages for the 2012-13 academic year.

The six-member class tied the largest in Bulldog softball history, and are among 39 Fresno State players that have received similar honors since the 1997-98 school year. Runge and Ortiz are three- and two-time honorees and the 10th and 11th Bulldogs to claim multiple honors. In addition, Runge and Ortiz were CoSIDA Academic All-District First-Team choices in 2013 and `12, respectively.

Last spring, nine `Dogs picked up Academic All-Mountain West honors - Harris, Langdon, Megee, Ortiz, Runge, senior catcher/infielder Stesha Brazil and infielder/outfielder Vonnie Martin, junior center fielder Brenna Moss and sophomore infielder Whitney Smith.

Overall in school history, the softball team has racked up 108 academic all-conference honors since it began WAC play in 1993 and MW action in 2013.

Team MW Record Pct. Overall
San Diego State 0-0 .000 20-8
Nevada 0-0 .000 18-10
Colorado State 0-0 .000 15-5
Fresno State 0-0 .000 15-10
San Jose State 0-0 .000 15-11
Boise State 0-0 .000 15-12
UNLV 0-0 .000 10-16
Utah State 0-0 .000 8-13
New Mexico 0-0 .000 8-18

Notable 2014 MW Individual Rankings (NCAA)
Kiley Shae Aldridge - ERA 1st, 1.11; Opposing Batting 4th, .227
Taylor Langdon - Saves 1st, 4 (2nd); Games Finished 1st, 9; Games in Relief 1st, 11
Jill Compton - Wins 3rd, 10 (45th); Starts 3rd, 14; Opp. Batting 3rd, .216; Innings 4th, 90; Strikeouts 5th, 67 (111th); ERA 4th, 1.94 (109th); Strikeouts Looking 3rd, 20; Appearances 8th, 16; Shutouts (22nd, 4)
Michelle Solomon - Triples 2nd, 2 (59th)
Vonnie Martin - Walks 3rd, 24 (9th)
Brenna Moss - Stolen Bases 4th, 11 (79th); Hits 8th, 28; Runs 8th, 19
Stesha Brazil - Homers 4th, 5 (121st); RBI 5th, 25 (63rd)
Kierra Willis - Walks (117th)
Paige Gumz - Sacrifice Flies 6th, 2 (65th)

Notable 2014 MW Team Rankings (NCAA Ranking if available)
Triples 3rd, 6 (62nd)
Stolen Bases 3rd, 33 (78th)
Walks 5th, 87

Opposing Batting 1st, .248
Saves 1st, 4

ERA 2nd, 2.76 (68th)
Fewest Hits Allowed 3rd, 161
Strikeouts 4th, 110
Batters Struck Out Looking 4th, 33
Double Plays 0.36 p/g (67th)

Complete NCAA Stats - http://bit.ly/1gPx6rG
Complete MW Stats - http://bit.ly/1dCQGFB

2014 MW Preseason Poll
Pl. Team Pts. 2013 Finish Overall
1. SDSU (7) 63 1st 13-5 35-18
2. Fresno State (2) 56 2nd 11-7 30-24
3. Boise State 42 4th 9-9 25-26
4. Colorado St. 38 2nd 11-7 25-24
4. San Jose St. 38 1st-WAC 17-4 42-15
6. Nevada 36 4th 9-9 30-23
7. UNLV 27 6th 7-11 21-31
8. New Mexico 13 7th 3-15 21-35
9. Utah State 11 8th-WAC 5-16 11-43



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