As the regular-season marches toward a finish, Fresno State ace Jill Compton keeps getting better.
And the Bulldogs definitely can use that kind of imposing threat as they try to hold onto first in the Mountain West.
Compton mystified Nevada on Friday night, pitching a one-hitter while striking out 11 to lead Fresno State to a 6-0 win in the opener of a three-game series at Margie Wright Diamond.
The junior mixed in a pinpoint fastball with her riseball, then often went to the changeup for her knockout pitch.
“Just changing speed,” Compton said. “Coach (Trisha) Ford said the changeup was going to be the key. That’s my favorite pitch. We just worked with it.
“The changeup and the riseball kept the batters off balance. It was fun.”
Compton notched her eighth shutout of the season and extended her scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings. Her dominance extends even further, with Compton giving up just one earned run (two runs overall) in 28 1/3 innings across her past five outings (four as a starter).
“I know that every pitch counts,” said Compton, who has struck out 31 in that five-game stretch. “If I hang one, they can take advantage of it.”
The Bulldogs (34-14, 15-4) matched their season-best winning streak of five and will go for a new high against the Wolf Pack (14-31, 4-12) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The series finale is Sunday at noon.
The Bulldogs were near neck-and-neck with the Wolf Pack most of Friday, up 1-0 after stranding eight runners through the first five innings. But the Bulldogs pulled away with a fiverun sixth.
Bulldogs cleanup hitter Kierra Willis batted 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Malia Rivers went 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI.
“Coach just tells us to be aggressive, go up there swinging; get on base, hit the ball down,” Willis said. “It was pretty much a close game throughout the six innings. We just kept our heads up and didn’t let up.”
Fresno State maintained its lead over San Jose State (32-15,12-4), an 11-3 winner over UNLV in the opener of that series Friday.
Bulldogs women reach MW tennis semifinals
Fresno State freshman Maiar Sherif Ahmed won in straight sets at No. 2 singles and with sister Rana Sherif Ahmed 6-1 in the top doubles as the Bulldogs lived up to their No. 1 seed with a 4-0 win over eighth-seeded Air Force at the Mountain West Conference women’s tennis championships in Albuquerque.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 49 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, improved to 18-4 ahead of Saturday's 2 p.m. semifinal against fifth-seeded Wyoming. They were unfazed by a late venue change, as inclement weather forced the tournament to move from the McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium at the University of New Mexico to the Linda Estes Tennis Indoor Center.
Senior Aishwarya Agrawal, celebrating her 22nd birthday, scored the clinching point at No. 4 singles with a 6-0, 6-4 win.
“I thought we played really well,” Fresno State coach Ryan Stotland said. “I thought we adjusted to playing indoors well, as we haven’t played an indoor match in a long time.”
Wyoming (13-6) eliminated No. 4 San Diego State 4-3 in a match that took 31/2 hours and also was moved indoors.
Bulldogs golf team sees 2nd-round gain
The Fresno State golf team sputtered for one round but moved up four spots after the second to stand fifth place after Day 1 of the PING Cougar Classic in Provo, Utah.
The Bulldogs improved by six strokes, shooting a 292-286-578. Colorado State (278-286—564) was in first.
Fresno State’s Justin Avery (72-69-141) shot 3 under in the second round to move up 16 spots and into a tie for fourth, three back of the leader. The tournament concludes with one round Saturday.
Lacrosse team falls at Colorado
Freshman goalie Natalie Chaffin posted a season-high 20 saves, but the Fresno State lacrosse team fell 16-7 at Colorado in the Bulldogs’ second-to-last game of the year.
Chaffin recorded the most saves in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation since 2010. Fresno State (4-11, 2-7) wraps of its season Sunday at Denver.
Tark’s grandson, 5, undergoes more tests
The 5-year-old namesake grandson of ex-UNLV and Fresno State basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian is back in the hospital for testing after suffering a stroke.
The parents of young Jerry said he is now at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, as planned, for more testing to determine the cause of last week’s hospitalization in Las Vegas.
Danny and Amy Tarkanian say their son has never had health issues before but is now also reporting neck pain. It’s unclear how or if it’s connected to the stroke.
Ex-’Dogs hoops star Barnes is Pitt’s AD
Scott Barnes, a former Fresno State basketball player who went on to a build a reputation as a talented fundraiser while spending a quarter century hopscotching across the western half of the United States from one college sports administration job to the next, is the new athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh.
Barnes, 52, spent the past seven years at Utah State, helping the Aggies build a football program that averaged 10 wins over the past three seasons. He guided Utah State to a spot in the revamped Mountain West Conference in 2013, a ripple effect of the restructuring that started with Pitt’s announced move from the Big East to the ACC in 2011.
“Athletics truly is a front porch,” Barnes said after being introduced at his new school Friday. “It is not the most important room in the house but it is the most visible and what comes with that is opportunity and responsibility.”
Barnes won’t officially start until July 1, but stressed he’ll be juggling his current and new jobs over the next two months. Barnes replaces Steve Pederson, who parted ways with Pitt in December the same day football coach Paul Chryst was introduced as the new coach at Wisconsin.
An all-conference center under Bulldogs coach Boyd Grant, Barnes in 1983-84 held then-University of Houston star Akeem Olajuwon to 12 points in a 68-61 victory at the Chaminade Classic in Honolulu and helped lead Fresno State to the PCAA Tournament title — capped by a 51-49 victory over Tarkanian’s 10th-ranked UNLV Rebels.