Boise State got a case of stage fright in its debut in college softball's big show.
The Broncos' normally active bats went silent in an 8-0 loss to No. 5 Washington in the first round of the NCAA women's softball tournament Friday at Husky Softball Stadium.
“As far as our offense, we got better throughout the game. We put pressure on their defense, but we didn’t come up with that clutch at-bat,” Boise State coach Cindy Ball said.
Boise State (40-15) will play Minnesota (39-16), which lost to Texas 2-1, in a loser-out game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The winner plays the Texas-Washington loser at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Boise State, the Mountain West Conference champions, entered its first NCAA Tournament with the nation’s top offense, batting .357.
That offense showed little spark until the fourth inning, when the Broncos loaded the bases with Washington leading 1-0. But Washington starter Gabbie Plain (17-4) struck out pinch-hitter Morgan Lamb before getting a groundout to end the Broncos’ threat.
Boise State found ways to pressure Plain again in the fifth inning, moving a pair of runners into scoring position, but the Huskies' starter flustered Broncos batters to get out of trouble again.
“We’re learning and becoming more experienced to postseason (play),” Ball said. “To (hold) Washington to five hits, I’m really proud of them.”
Washington (45-8) jumped on Boise State starter Kelsey Broadus (10-4), who found herself in trouble the fourth inning after walks came back to haunt her. Broadus held the Huskies hitless through three innings, but came undone in the fourth as a pair of walks and an error allowed Washington to score four runs and extend its lead to 5-0.
“It did take me awhile to find the zone. I think I was just a little too excited probably. We’re playing on a big stage for the first time,” said Broadus, who walked seven.
“I just had to attack early but I didn’t,” Broadus said.
Washington scored three runs in the fifth to extend its lead to 8-0 and end the game early because of the run-rule, forcing Boise State into a win-or-go-home scenario Saturday.
“[I] wish we could have made some better decisions defensively,” Ball said. “It’s a lot for us to talk about to get better tomorrow. ... It will be a fun challenge.”