A potential no-hitter turned into an NCAA tournament nightmare for the Boise State softball team.
The Broncos were eliminated from the postseason Saturday, falling to Minnesota 11-3 in the Seattle regional.
Boise State starter Gianna Mancha looked nearly untouchable for five-plus innings, holding the Big Ten Conference champions hitless while building a 2-0 lead.
“I was really confident and comfortable, especially with my defense. I knew the hitting would come around eventually,” Mancha said.
Instead, it was the Gophers' hitters who woke up.
Minnesota (40-16) started the sixth with a bang when center fielder Dani Wagner hammered a two-run home run over the left-field fence to tie the game 2-2. The Boise State freshman then walked the bases loaded before being relieved by Kelsey Broadus, who gave up a double to Minnesota catcher Kendyl Lindaman that gave the Gophers a 5-2 lead. A triple from Maddie Houlihan and a Boise State error helped widen the gap to 7-2 before the Broncos closed out the inning.
Boise State (40-16), the Mountain West Conference champions, had 17 walks and hit three batters in its two NCAA Tournament games. The Broncos lost to No. 5 seed Washington 8-0 on Friday.
“It’s crazy to think that this great run is over. ... Except for two innings, we played a heck of a game. I’m really proud of our group,” Boise State coach Cindy Ball said.
After a rain delay, Minnesota tacked on four more runs in the seventh and, despite loading the bases in the bottom half of the inning, Boise State was only able to get one run across the plate.
The disappointing NCAA debut aside, Ball said the future looks bright for the Broncos.
“Our seniors left us better than when they found us," Ball said. "I’m excited for how we’re going to carry that on.”