Friday, February 11, 2011

Bronco Gymnasts Squeak By San Jose State

It wasn't pretty, but the #12 Boise State gymnastics team got the job done. The Broncos overcame three disastrous mistakes, pulling through with a solid vault routine to eek out a win over host San Jose State by 375/1000th's of a point tonight in a quadrangular meet.

Boise State survived scores of 9.325, 9.3 and 9.225 to somehow emerge victorious over a determined San Jose State team. The Broncos may have left town with a "W", but it was San Jose State that gained loads of confidence for coming so close to the #12 team in the nation. And the Boise State team better get used to the venue and the fans, for the upcoming WAC Championships are in the exact same building they performed in tonight.

Boise State recorded solid scores in the vault (49.250), floor (49.175) and bars (49.175) to get the win over San Jose State, UC Davis and Seattle Pacific. Coach Tina Bird and Neil Resnick's team needed every bit of that vault score which was achieved in their final rotation. The Broncos and Spartans were tied after three rotations and the outcome was very much in doubt.

Hailey Gaspar was one of the heroes tonight for the Lady Broncos. For the second time in her career, she earned a 9.95 score on vault, which is tied for fifth best in school history. To illustrate how important her great vault was, if the score had come up 9.5, the Broncos would have lost tonight. She also rang up a 9.875 in the floor exercises (second on the Bronco team) and a 9.725 on the beam. So major kudos to Hailey for helping pull out the win!

Amy Glass was her usual solid self, although she did finish second to San Jose's Thomasina Wallace in the all-around. Wallace was brilliant with a 39.325 to 39.250 for Glass. Kelsey Black was another star for Boise State. Black performed on three apparatuses, scoring 9.850 on floor, 9.8 on bars and 9.750 on vault. Hannah Redmon was also great with a 9.9 on floor, a 9.875 on vault and a 9.850 on bars. Redmon had the highest Bronco score on floor and the second-highest on both vault and bars.

Redmon is one of the great talents in school history. It's too bad she didn't also compete on the beam because the Broncos could have used her ability. Two of the poor performances tonight came on beam--if Redmon can beat 9.3 on beam, the Broncos could have used her.

When it's all said and done, Boise State's score of 195.925 is still a very good road score, even though it did give the Spartan women optimism heading into the WAC Championships. Better to put a team away and not give them any hope, but you live and learn and compete another day. Boise State came into tonight's meet averaging 195.038 so they at least should maintain their current ranking. I'll try to track the other Top 15 scores this weekend and give an estimate how the averages change for each. Next week, I believe the rankings are changed to reflect the RQS (Regional Qualifying Score), and that is done quite differently.

Next week, it's off to another WAC contender in Utah State and a meet with the Aggie women next Friday. Hopefully March 19 when the Broncos return to San Jose, they'll be at the top of their game.

Bronco Gymnasts Get 49.175 on Bars

Boise State is facing what appears to be one of its toughest conference foes tonight in a four-way meet. The Broncos gymnasts are going against host San Jose State along with UC Davis and Seattle Pacific. The Broncos scored very well on bars to grab the early lead. It appears they had some trouble on the beam--that rotation is not quite complete. San Jose State scored 48.850 on vault.

Boise State-Oklahoma State Battle in Less Than an Hour

Don't forget to check out the play-by-play or live video. Links provided in the "Clash of the Titans" story.

Bronco Softball Team Anxious to Start Season

It will be strange not seeing Kathy Cox at the hot corner this spring for the Boise State softball team. The fixture and Regional All-Star won't be positioned at third base, but the returning members of the Bronco team are anxious to prove they can carry the load for Coach Erin Thorpe.

Boise State surprised the WAC a bit last year in the conference tournament, taking third place. But Thorpe isn't one to sit on her laurels. The first thing she did was go out and schedule 13 games against nine NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. It isn't easy to build a team from scratch, but Thorpe first attracted powerful bats to Boise State to generate fan excitement. Then, she went after versatile players that could take the field at multiple positions. Now, with the program in its third year, Thorpe is bringing in recruits that are specialists.

The Broncos are looking at a schedule that features Tennessee (49-18 a year ago and a College World Series semi-finalist), two NCAA quarterfinalists (Washington, which compiled a 50-9 record, and fellow WAC member Hawai'i, which was 50-16 last season), NCAA Super Regional teams BYU (46-13), Oregon (36-21) and Arizona State (44-17), and NCAA Regional teams UC-Davis (26-29), Saint Mary's (30-23) and Fresno State (41-21). Unfortunately, most of those games are on the road, so it's a brutal road schedule that also includes games against Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount. Boise State will open against the two latter teams this Saturday in the Long Beach State Kickoff Tournament this weekend.

Cox isn't completely gone; she will serve as Student Manager for the team. But with her big bat out of the lineup, you have to figure that junior Christina Capobianco will be counted on to produce big numbers. Realistically, Capobianco should have been an All-WAC choice last year; she hit .301, had a .398 on-base percentage, a .551 slugging percentage, blasted 11 home runs and drove in 42 in 51 starts at first base for the Broncos.

Junior pitcher Allie Crump was singled out by the WAC for preseason honors after keeping Boise State in numerous games last season. Crump started 29 games last year, winning 16 of them, and struck out 130 in 170 innings of work. Aubray Zell paced the team with a 3.16 ERA last year, started 23 games and pitched three shutouts. Sophomore Lela Work has the perfect name for a relief pitcher, and really came into her own at the WAC Tournament. Lela worked eight innings at the championships, surrendering just two hits and allowing zero runs in three games. Boise State would not have finished third without her.

"Lela did a great job in the relief spot," Thorpe said. "We expect her to be used much more in that role this season."

Ashley Collier was a spot starter and produced a complete-game victory in her first career start vs. Wichita State. Newcomer Morgan Barnes is a promising prospect who compiled a 78-11 record with 884 strikeouts in helping Grants Pass, Oregon to two consecutive state championships.

Junior Maghan Yurek is a defensive specialist at catcher, finishing 2010 with a .974 fielding percentage. Sophomore Megan Harvey will be counted on offensively.

Junior Kellie Caplan was a second-team All-WAC selection last season at shortstop but can play several positions. Caplan hit .293 and was a .364 hitter in conference games. In addition to being part of a great double play combination (Boise State was sixth in the country in 2009), Caplan also set the school record with 16 stolen bases. Kellie reached base at a .343 clip last season and was third on the team with 33 runs scored. Freshman Devon Bridges has good power potential as a backup to Capobianco and Crump can also play first.

Several contenders are battling for the right to step into Cox's shoes at third base: junior Kelly Sweeney, sophomore Jessica Kraft and freshmen MacKzenie Whyte, Trisha Nobriga and Jessica O'Donnell. Vanessa Alvarez, who started 45 games as Boise State's clean-up hitter, and Holly Bourke should see plenty of action at second base. Bourke hit .316 last year with most of her starts in right field, but both Bourke and Alvarez can get the job done at the plate--they tied for the third on the Bronco team with 66 total bases.

Six Broncos with starting outfield experience return for Thorpe this spring. The sextet accounted for 46 of 51 stolen bases for Bronco outfielders in 2010. Boise State shot up from 14 stolen bases in 2009 to 77 last season and the Broncos look to continue their mastery on the basepaths this year. Sophomore Brittany Barcellos and freshman Natalie Kelley look to be regular starters, with Bourke, Bridges, Caplan, Collier and Tazz Weatherly also seeing time.

With eight returning starters and the fantastic schedule, it will be an exciting year for Thorpe and the Broncos as they continue to build the program. Things to watch will be if the team can continue their incredible consistency throughout the lineup that they displayed last season and if the pitching staff can bear down to keep games close, especially against the NCAA Tournament teams.