Boise State senior right fielder Holly Bourke extended her streak of games reaching base to 16 on Friday afternoon in a doubleheader that opened Dona Larsen Park's softball field.
And in both instances, she gave the Broncos a chance to win.
Those are moments she craves - and ones that were missing from a disappointing junior season.
"Our team did really well (last year) and I felt like I never really had a huge part in the overall success," Bourke said. "Defensively, I played a lot and did well, but offensively, I didn't feel like I was someone you could look to to get the job done whereas this year, I feel like I have that role more."
Bourke singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning in Friday's opener against Utah State, with the Broncos down 5-3. They failed to score and lost.
She fought back from a 1-2 count to draw a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth in the second game against Idaho State. Hits by the next two batters gave the Broncos an 8-0 lead, which triggered the run rule after the Bengals didn't score in the fifth.
Bourke has taken a different approach at the plate this year, watching more pitches and keeping her weight more toward her back foot.
"She began lunging a little bit last year," coach Erin Thorpe said. " She's probably the most intense competitor on our team, which is always going to lead to more productivity than not. We knew that she just needed to figure (the adjustment) out and get comfortable with it and she was going to be fine."
Bourke, who is from Woodland, Calif., batted .316 while playing in every game as a freshman in 2010. She batted .322 and started every game as a sophomore.
Her average plummeted to .232 last year.
"Honestly, it was like the worst season of my life," she said.
She spent three weeks last summer working with a hitting coach at home in California and saw improvement during practice games in the fall.
"I felt a lot better," she said. "It's definitely working."
Boise State's first appearance at the new Dona Larsen Park softball field was a bust - a 5-3, eight-inning loss to Utah State (3-20).
Freshman Ashley Palmer tied the game with a homer in the bottom of the seventh inning - moments after a teammate was picked off first base. Utah State took the lead with two runs in the eighth, thanks to three walks and a dropped line drive in the outfield.
"I just think we didn't come out to play today," Boise State coach Erin Thorpe said, "and underestimated the (opponent)."
The Broncos (10-14) bounced back with an 8-0 win in five innings against Idaho State (7-12). Senior Lela Work held the Bengals to three hits for her first career shutout and the Broncos responded to Thorpe's between-games talk with aggressive baserunning to fuel a four-run second inning.
"It's all about coming to play with passion and being aggressive and playing the kind of ball they can," Thorpe said. " The second game is what can happen when you bring focus to a game."
The Broncos continue the SpringHill Suites Invitational with games at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visiting teams also play at 10 a.m. and noon each day.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat