Fresno State

Fresno State softball: Brenna Moss keeps red-hot Bulldogs rolling

Her day didn’t start off so great.

With the bases loaded and one out in the second inning, Fresno State’s hot-hitting Brenna Moss had a chance to punish Boise State.

Instead, she hit into an inning-ending double play, a sharp liner snagged by the Broncos third baseman, who then touched the bag to end Fresno State’s early threat.

Moss admits such an outcome in past seasons would’ve gnawed at her and affected later at-bats.

But Moss recovered just fine Sunday, finishing 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs as Fresno State beat Boise State 5-0 and swept the three-game Mountain West series at Margie Wright Diamond.

“She is nails,” Bulldogs coach Trisha Ford said. “That’s the difference between the Brenna Moss early on to the Brenna Moss today.

“She’s looking to make them pay.”

Moss has been doing so her entire senior season, hitting .449 with seven regular-season games remaining. She is in line to finish in the top five in Fresno State single-season batting average.

Moss already set the career steals record — at 97 and counting with 22 this season. She set the single-season mark just last year with 34.

“I’m not afraid to take risks,” Moss said. “That’s important in this game. You can’t be scared. You’ve got to go for it.

“I’ve learned this game is a game of failure. I’m going to fail. So I have to take it lightheartedly. ... Don’t get so frustrated about things.”

Fresno State’s ability to turn Moss’ hits and steals into runs more consistently has helped the Bulldogs (33-14, 14-4) take control of first place in the Mountain West and possibly return to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2011.

Fresno State, which is a game up on San Diego State (30-17, 13-5), ranks second in the conference with 252 runs and a .318 team batting average.

“Brenna is our starter — she’s our lighter fluid,” Ford said. “Our offense, the rhythm part of the game, flows much better when Brenna gets on.”

Moss showed that Sunday, driving in the game’s first run in the fourth with a single to center that scored Bria Kennedy from second base. Moss then scored on No. 2 hitter Malia Rivers’ single to right.

A similar scenario occurred in the sixth with Moss plating another run with a single to left, then scoring on cleanup hitter Kierra Willis’ two-run single that also brought in Rivers.

A sophomore transfer from Georgia, Rivers has benefited from Moss regularly getting on base and finished 3 for 3 with one run and an RBI on Sunday. Rivers is hitting .373 with 35 runs and 24 RBIs.

“I know my job on this team is for her to get on and me to move her over,” Rivers said. “We work really well off each other.”

Flashback to Moss’ time before Fresno State: Starring at North High-Bakersfield, the outfielder almost went a different route.

Moss orally committed to Utah State as a sophomore and turned away the advances of several programs.

But during her senior year, Moss said she realized she wanted to play closer to home.

Former Fresno State coach Margie Wright quickly offered Moss a scholarship, impressed largely by her speed.

Wright believed Moss to be one of the fastest players in the nation.

Moss has since developed into one of the nation’s top players — with her average increasing each season from .283 to .302 to .368 to .453 entering this weekend, which ranked 27th in the country.

“I’m playing more relaxed,” Moss said. “It’s always a better result when you have fun and don’t take things so seriously.”

• Bulldogs pitcher Jill Compton recorded her seventh shutout and struck out 10 batters in the finale against the Broncos.