Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State softball team posted its first win over a ranked team this season with an 8-6 victory over No. 23 New Mexico in the first game of the Rio Grande Rivalry at the NM State Softball Complex Wednesday night.
The Aggies (17-12) allowed the Lobos (17-6) an early 2-0 lead but came back with three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. UNM tied it in the top of the second but NM State answered in the bottom of the frame and never trailed again.
A three-run home run by freshman Staci Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth gave the Aggies a four-run cushion at 8-4 and proved to be the difference in the game. The Lobos threatened in the top of the seventh after a two-run homer and the bases loaded but the Aggies got out of the inning on a short fly to left field and a strikeout to end the game.
Junior Alex Newman earned the start for the Aggies and Kaela DeBroeck started in the circle for UNM.
The Lobos struck first in the top of the first with a two-out two-run homer to lead early, 2-0.
NM State regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the first as six of the first seven Aggie batters reached base against DeBroeck. Junior Amber Olive led off with an infield single. Sophomore Kristi Covarrubia followed with a single to left center. A double from freshman Kelsey Dodd scored Olive and put runners on the corners with one out.
Down 2-1, junior Tehani Kaaihue singled to left center to score Covarrubia to knot the game at 2-2. After freshman Briana Tovio-Asato was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Rodriguez drew a walk to push across a run to give the Aggies a 3-2 lead after one.
The Lobos rallied to tie the game in the top of the second. A hit batter with two outs followed by a double led to a UNM score to tie the game at 3-3. As a result, freshman Karysta Donisthorpe entered the game in relief of Newman to record the final out.
The Aggies moved ahead 4-3 with another two-out rally. Covarrubia doubled to left center and senior Tiare Jennings singled to left to bat in a run for a 4-3 NM State lead heading into the third inning. Lobo pitcher Carrie Sheehan replaced DeBroeck in the circle after the run scored.
A couple of UNM errors led to another Aggie run in the bottom of the fifth. Rodriguez reached to open the inning after being hit by a pitch. A Lobo error allowed freshman Malena Padilla to reach and put runners on first and second. Junior Teresa Conrad drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Olive lined out to Sheehan but an errant throw to second allowed Rodriguez to score from third and increase the NM State advantage to 5-3 after five.
New Mexico thought they had a home run in the top of the sixth but it was ruled a ground rule double. The run would later score after a wild pitch and a ground out to cut the Aggie lead to 5-4.
The Aggies fought back in the bottom half of the inning. Kaaihue reached on an error with one out. Tovio-Asato walked before Rodriguez hammered her third home run of the season to clear the bases and move NM State ahead 8-4 heading into the final inning.
UNM opened their last at-bat with a single and a home run to edge within two at 8-6 with no outs. The Lobos put runners at first and second with one out against Donisthorpe. Newman re-entered the game to save the game for the Crimson and White.
Newman allowed a walk to load the bases before a shallow fly to left field held the runners with two outs. The Aggie hurler got the final batter to strike out swinging to end the game and earn her third save of the year.
Donisthorpe earned the win to improve to 5-1 while DeBroeck fell to 10-2 with the loss.
NM State has a week off before returning to the diamond when the Aggies travel to No. 13 Arizona for a doubleheader March 21 before traveling to BYU to open Western Athletic Conference play.