The Boise State softball team erased any doubt on whether it belonged in the NCAA Tournament.
Not that the Broncos ever had any question.
Boise State rolled to a 9-1 win against Stanford in the opening game of the Gainesville Regional on Friday, picking up the first NCAA Tournament win in program history in Gainesville, Florida.
The Broncos move on to play regional host Florida at noon MDT today. The game will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. The exact channel had not been announced as of Friday night.
“It’s a great feeling just to keep breaking records,” said junior pitcher Kelsey Broadus, who allowed six hits in the complete-game win, and didn’t allow Stanford to score a run until it was down to its final out. “This group has all the tools in the shed to do so. We just got to keep winning and stay in the winners bracket.”
Boise State (35-14) earned an at-large bid to the 64-team tournament despite finishing in fifth place in the Mountain West with a 12-12 conference record. The Broncos got in over San Jose State, UNLV and Fresno State — all of which finished above the Broncos in the standings — despite going 1-8 combined against those three teams. But the Broncos aren’t looking at their large margin of victory as vindication for getting in.
“We’re not worried about that,” said coach Maggie Livreri. “We’re just worried about showing up and playing our best ballgame, and I’m glad that we did that. What the score reflects is us playing a good ballgame.”
The Broncos broke the game open with five runs in the fourth inning, sparked by a lead off home run from Rebekah Cervantes to left field, which gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead. Boise State added to that lead by getting seven consecutive batters on base, beginning with a one-out double by Morgan Lamb.
After Ashlyn Adams drew a walk to load the bases with one out, a ball off the bat of Karlee Johnson went between the legs of the Stanford’s Kristina Inouye at third base, allowing two more runs to score.
Alison Seng and Kora Wade added RBI singles before a double play ended the inning.
“We found ways to get on base and took advantage of their pitcher struggling to throw some strikes,” said Livreri. “We came through with some key hits when it mattered. Morgan Lamb had a wonderful at bat to kind of get us going and we continued to feed off each other.”
Broadus took control from there. After retiring the first two batters of the seventh inning, the junior was one out away from earning the shutout. But an error and a walk put runners at first and second, and Stanford’s Teaghan Cowles hit a single to right field to get the Cardinal on the board.
After another error loaded the bases, Broadus ended the game with a strikeout, her first of the game.
“I think I just had to throw my game,” said Broadus. “I thought about the girls around me, and the seniors. I just wanted go out there and pitch like I know how. The umpire wasn’t calling a good zone, so I had to adjust to that, but I think the defense did an amazing job backing me up. I only had one strikeout and that shows that our defense put in a lot of work today. I’m thankful for that.”
Before Stanford scored its only run, Boise State added four more in the top of the seventh inning, extending the lead to 9-0. Johnson drove in two runs on a single and the Broncos drew a pair of bases-loaded walks, giving Boise State a much bigger cushion as it achieved history.
“It’s a huge step forward for the program,” Livreri said. “Winning in the postseason has been a goal since Day 1. I’m really proud of them going after it today.”