If any team has gotten off to a hotter - and more unexpected - start to the 2017 season than the Boise State Broncos, please have them step to the front of the room.
Picked last in the Mountain West’s preseason poll, and receiving only last-place votes on every applicable ballot to boot, the Broncos were not expected to improve very greatly on their fourteen-win 2016 campaign.
As the saying goes, though, “that’s why you play the game.” The Broncos went 1-2 on opening weekend, only to weld together a ten-game winning streak thereafter and have not looked back since.
Now 21-9 and 3-3 in conference play, the Broncos have not only looked impressive but have already far exceeded the expectations of many. Head coach Cindy Ball-Malone credits her team’s willingness to “put in the work” as a determining factor in the Broncos’ swift rise from the bottom of the conference.
“Sixteen of our players stayed through the summer last year to train,” said Ball-Malone. “We aren’t allowed to work with them in the summer, so it’s all voluntary. They wanted to put in the work to get better.”
The Broncos have excelled in nearly every area of the game as 2017 has progressed, including presently sporting a team batting average of .330 and a 3.30 team ERA. No pitcher with more than twenty innings of work in the circle has an ERA over 4.00.
One of Ball-Malone’s philosophies that she has expressed to her team is the mentality of “making things harder than the game is”. She explains, “Instead of running one mile that we know we’ll have to run later, we’d run three… we are changing the culture of our program, developing it more.”
Ball-Malone says she sees many improvements in her team just from last season, and even from the fall ‘season’. As conference play rolls into full-gear, Ball-Malone says she expects her team “to adjust quicker to changes and not make the same mistakes twice.”
All roads in the Mountain West continue to roll through Fresno, California, and even despite a series loss against the Bulldogs this weekend, the Broncos still have quite a few games to complete what has already become a Cinderella-story of a season.