Bulldogs Boise-Bound For MW Opener
March 19, 2014
Up Next: Boise State (15-12, 0-0)
Friday, March 21 - 2 p.m. Pacific Time / 3 p.m. Mountain Time
Game 1 Live Stats
BULLDOGS BOISE BOUND FOR CONFERENCE OPENER
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).
RECENT TOURNAMENT NOTES
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).
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)
RECENT BULLDOG HEROES
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.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN (WEST)
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).
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.
2013 FRESNO STATE-BOISE STATE SERIES REWIND
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.
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)
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
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).
SIZING UP THE `DOGS IN 2014
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.
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.
NEW TO THE FOLD
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.
ANOTHER STACKED SCHEDULE
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).
PRIDE OF THE VALLEY
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.
ON PACE IN THE CLASSROOM
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.
THIS WEEK'S MW STANDINGS
Notable 2014 MW Individual Rankings (NCAA)
Notable 2014 MW Team Rankings (NCAA Ranking if available)
ERA 2nd, 2.76 (68th)
Complete NCAA Stats - http://bit.ly/1gPx6rG
2014 MW Preseason Poll