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Boise State picks up first win against UH

By Jason Kaneshiro

LAST UPDATED: 1:32 a.m. HST, Apr 23, 2011

A pitcher with an unusual number and an unorthodox delivery led Boise State to an unprecedented win last night.

Boise State junior Aubray Zell kept Hawaii off balance throughout the evening and the Broncos opened a Western Athletic Conference softball series with a 2-1 win over the Rainbow Wahine.

The win was Boise State’s first over UH since establishing its program in 2009. The Rainbow Wahine entered the series 7-0 against the Broncos, averaging 10.1 runs in those games. But Zell, No. 61 on the Broncos’ roster, mixed speeds effectively to strike out four and induce 14 groundouts while holding UH to five hits at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

“She did a good job,” UH head coach Bob Coolen said. “She did a real good job of making us pound the ball into the ground and not even hit the ball.”

UH junior Stephanie Ricketts matched zeroes with Zell through 4 1/3 innings before Boise State designated player Christina Capobianco hammered a changeup over the center-field fence for a two-run homer to account for all of the Broncos’ scoring.

Boise State improved to 27-15 and 10-3 in WAC play, two games behind leader New Mexico State. UH fell to 30-14 and 8-5.

“All of those milestones are great to get,” Boise State coach Erin Thorpe said of the breakthrough against UH. “I think it meant a lot and helped with our confidence.”

Zell (11-2), who begins her delivery by pulling her arms behind her back, then double-pumping her hands in front of her body before coming to the plate, entered the series third in the WAC in earned-run average and held off UH’s comeback attempts in the sixth and seventh innings.

“She mixes speeds well; that is something we had been working on this week, but we didn’t really make adjustments throughout the game,” UH center fielder Kelly Majam said.

“(Her windup) is different, but we have seen her for two years, so we all knew that’s what she does.”

UH scored its lone run in the sixth when Majam lined a single to left and advanced to second on an error. Jessica Iwata followed with a sharp single through the middle to score Majam.

Iwata got to second on a wild pitch, but Zell got out of the inning on a strikeout and a foul popup to the catcher. The Wahine put the tying run on base again with one out in the seventh, but a strikeout and groundout ended the game.

“She did an awesome job,” Thorpe said. “She maintained control of her pitches throughout the entire game and it worked, luckily for us.

“I think this entire year she has been a different pitcher than she was in her first two years. I think she’s a completely different pitcher from what teams would have faced the first two years.”

Ricketts (18-11) struck out six and walked four in her sixth one-run loss of the season. UH has been held to one run or fewer in nine of her starts this season.

“Our margin for error is very small lately and we’re not scoring runs,” Coolen said. “It’s not like we’re scoring seven or eight runs a ballgame. For us to score one run and make it close, that’s a credit, but not scoring early when we had opportunities. … We had very few runners on base, but when we did we had opportunities to score them.”

The series concludes today with a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. at RWSS.

At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
Boise State (27-15, 10-3) 000 020 0 2 6 2
Hawaii (30-14, 8-5) 000 001 0 1 5 0

Aubray Zell and Megan Harvey. Stephanie Ricketts and Sharla Kliebenstein. W—Zell. L—Ricketts. Leading hitters—Boise State: Christina Capobianco, 2-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Tazz Weatherly, 2-3. Hawaii: Jessica Iwata, 2-3, RBI.

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