Grand Slam, Eight-Run Seventh Clinches 14-5 Aggie Win Over East Carolina

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

strong>TEMPE, AZ - The New Mexico State softball team utilized an eight-run seventh inning that included a grand slam from senior Brittany Clifton to break open a one-run game against East Carolina and defeat the Pirates 14-5 on day two of the Diamond Devil Invitational hosted by No. 5 Arizona State at Farrington Stadium Saturday.

The Aggies (16-10) spotted East Carolina (9-13) an early 3-0 lead but outscored the Pirates 14-2 the rest of the way thanks to an eight-run explosion in the top of the seventh inning.

Junior Alex Newman earned the start for the Aggies while Sarah Christian pitched for ECU.

Christian retired the Aggies in order in the top of the first. ECU then rallied in the bottom of the frame with three runs on three hits and an Aggie error.

Down 3-0, NM State responded by batting around to score four runs in the top of the second inning. Junior Tehani Kaaihue continued her strong weekend at the plate with a leadoff single. Two batters later freshman Staci Rodriguez cranked her second home run of the season to cut the ECU lead to 3-2 with one out.

Freshman Briana Tovio-Asato singled to right and Clifton followed with a two-out infield single. A Pirate error allowed junior Amber Olive to reach and load the bases. Sophomore Kristi Covarrubia hit a double to bring in two more and give NM State its first lead of 4-3 in the second.

In the bottom of the frame, ECU scored twice more on three hits to take a 5-4 lead after two. The Pirates also chased Newman from the circle and freshman Karysta Donisthorpe came on in relief for the Aggies.

Donisthorpe shut down the Pirate bats once in the circle, giving up an early single and just two late hits on a two-out single in the sixth and a leadoff single in the seventh. She allowed just three hits in over five innings of work and retired 21 of the 22 batters she faced.

The Aggies tied the game in the top of the third. Kaaihue opened with a walk. A two-out single from Tovio-Asato brought Kaaihue across the plate for a 5-5 ball game after three.

NM State regained the lead in top of the fourth. A leadoff single from Olive and stolen base led to a score two at-bats later off of a single from freshman Kelsey Dodd. The Aggies held on to the one-run advantage for until the seventh.

The first four Aggie batters reached base in the top of the final frame. After a single from freshman Malena Padilla and three straight walks, ECU brought Christian back into the game. The starter re-entered the contest with the Pirates down 7-5 with no outs and the bases loaded after sitting out two innings.

Clifton capitalized on the situation, blasting a towering fly ball well beyond the left field fence to clear the bases and give NM State an 11-5 advantage. Olive kept the rally going by reaching first but became the first out on a fielder's choice from Covarrubia. A single from Dodd put two runners on with one out.

Kaaihue doubled to score Covarrubia and pushed the score to 12-5 in favor of the Aggies. Another single from Padilla in the inning scored Dodd. Kaaihue would later score on the second out of the inning to provide the final score of 14-5.

Donisthorpe improved to 4-1 on the year with her fourth win in a row and fourth decision in her last five appearances.

NM State completes play at the Diamond Devil Invitational Sunday with games against Pacific and the host No. 5 Sun Devils.