Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
TUSCON, AZ - The New Mexico State softball team scored eight straight runs in the final three innings to upset No. 14 Arizona 9-5 in game one of a doubleheader at the Wildcats' Hillenbrand Stadium Wednesday night and snap a nine-game UofA win streak. The Aggies dropped game two 6-3 after UA scored five in the bottom of the sixth.
The Aggies (18-13) dealt the 14th-ranked Wildcats (19-6) their first home loss of the season in eleven games and gave UofA's All-American pitcher Kenzie Fowler her first loss of the year (8-1). NM State's six runs in game one were the second-most allowed by Arizona this season.
The victory marked just the fourth win all-time against Arizona in the series (4-48) and the first victory against the Wildcats for Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph. NM State had not beaten the Cats since a 2-1 win on March 28, 2000. It was the first Aggie victory of more than one run against Arizona.
Junior Alex Newman pitched a complete game win against UofA allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out two batters. The Aggies got to Fowler with nine runs on five hits, including three home runs.
All but three runs in game one were scored off of home runs including all five for Arizona. UofA led 5-1 early but NM State put together eight runs in the final three innings thanks to a pair of home runs from sophomore Valerie Swedberg.
The Wildcats struck first in the bottom of the first with a two-out, two-run homer to lead early, 2-0.
Junior Teresa Conrad countered in the top of the second with a solo home run to left field to cut the Arizona lead to 2-1.
Arizona extended its lead to 5-1 on a three-run homer in the bottom of the second. Then Newman buckled down to retire the next nine Arizona batters and hold the Wildcats off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
After two scoreless innings, NM State closed the gap to 5-3 in the top of the fifth inning. An Arizona error allowed senior Brittany Clifton to reach first base as freshman Chelsea Dohrwardt came on to pinch run with no outs. After one out, freshman Briana Tovio-Asato moved to first after being hit by a pitch. A two-out RBI single up the middle from junior Amber Olive later scored the base runners to make it a two-run contest.
The Aggies took the lead for good in the top of the sixth. Conrad drew a one-out walk to start the Aggie rally. Swedberg came up next and belted a home run to knot the score at 5-5 with one out. Two batters later freshman Staci Rodriguez earned a two-out walk.
A single by Tovio-Asato put runners on first and second. An Arizona throwing error proved costly allowing sophomore Celisha Walker to reach base for the first time in her career and score Rodriguez from second for a 6-5 Aggie lead.
UofA snapped its hitting drought in the bottom of the frame but stranded the runner at first.
NM State added some insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Freshman Kelsey Dodd drew a one-out walk. Classmate Malena Padilla came into the game to run at first and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Conrad drew a walk. Swedberg came to the plate again with one out and drilled another home run for the second straight at-bat to clear the bases and put NM State up 9-5.
Newman allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh but a double play by sophomore shortstop Kristi Covarrubia on a liner and throw to first base, helped the Aggies record the first two outs before Newman got the final Wildcat batter to line out to third.
Newman earned the win to improve to 9-8 while Fowler fell to 8-1 with her first loss of the year.
In game two, freshman Karysta Donisthorpe got the start in the circle against Shelby Babcock of Arizona.
After a scoreless first, Tovio-Asato hammered a leadoff home run to begin the Aggie second inning and give NM State an early 1-0 lead.
Arizona answered with a run in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 1-1. A one-out double followed by a single allowed the run to cross the plate for the Wildcats.
NM State regained the lead in the top of the sixth. The first career hit for Celisha Walker on an infield single opened the inning. Senior Tiare Jennings followed with a single but was out on a fielder's choice on the next at-bat from Swedberg to put runners on the corners.
A sacrifice bunt from Conrad put two runners in scoring position. A walk to Tovio-Asato loaded the bases with two outs. Padilla lined a two-RBI single up the middle to score two and give NM State a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the frame.
Arizona scored five unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth with two outs on the board. UofA notched five hits and an Aggie error to push across five runs and take a 6-3 lead after six.
NM State opened the seventh with a walk to Dodd. Senior Shaleese Javillo came into the game to pinch run at first. Junior Amber Olive singled to put two runners on with no outs, but the Aggies stranded the runners.
Donisthorpe took the loss to drop to 5-2 on the year and Babcock earned the win to improve to 9-4 this season.
NM State opens Western Athletic Conference play Friday at Brigham Young to begin a three-game series. All games can be seen on BYUtv.
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