Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State softball team earned a 4-1 victory over Utah State in a must-win situation at the NM State Softball Complex Friday evening.
The teams will conclude the series with a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. MT Saturday; NM State will honor its five seniors in a ceremony after play later that evening. Those seniors include Brittany Clifton, Shaleese Javillo, Tiare Jennings, Kelsey Schueler and Sydney Williard. Entering the twin bill, the class of 2012 is tied for the second-most win total in program history of 125.
NM State (21-27, 2-14 WAC) and Utah State (16-32, 3-13) both entered this weekend seeking victories to stay alive and qualify for the 2012 WAC Softball Tournament held in Las Cruces May 9-12. Nevada's 5-1 win at Louisiana Tech Friday evening kept both teams alive entering play on Saturday.
In order to qualify for the tourney, NM State needs to win each of its final five games of the regular season including three road contests at San Jose State next weekend. The Crimson and White also need Louisiana Tech to lose each of its final five games at home to Nevada this weekend and on the road at Fresno State to end the regular season.
Sophomore Celisha Walker started in the circle for NM State against Utah State's Shelbi Tyteca.
Neither team could get the offense rolling early as both pitchers helped their defense record six straight outs through two innings.
Utah State opened the scoring in the top of the third frame. After a leadoff single, a two-out RBI double rolled to the fence to put the northern Aggies up 1-0.
NM State responded in the bottom of the third. Clifton earned a one-out walk to begin the rally. Javillo and junior Amber Olive hit back-to-back infield singles to load the bases. A fielder's choice allowed USU to record the force out at home as the bases remained loaded.
A two-out, two-RBI single from freshman Briana Tovio-Asato scored Javillo and Olive to give the Crimson and White a 2-1 lead after three.
Walker remained solid in the circle the rest of the way as the Aggie defense did not allow more than four USU batters to the plate in any of the final four innings.
New Mexico State added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Utah State made a pitching change to Dani Chaplin to begin the bottom of the sixth frame.
Freshman Kelsey Dodd drew a walk to open the inning. Jennings came into the game to pinch run for Dodd at first base. A sacrifice bunt from junior Teresa Conrad moved the runner into scoring position. Clifton followed with a two-out walk to place two Aggies on the bags.
Freshman Tina Cisneros connected on a clutch single to help score two runs. The ball was mishandled by the USU left fielder as Jennings and Clifton came across the plate to make it 4-1 Aggies after six.
Walker helped secure the win by striking out two batters in the seventh before a line drive to third base ended the game. She improved to 6-4 overall with the win while Tyteca took the loss to fall to 4-9 on the year.
The series concludes on Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Both games can be heard on KSNM 570 AM with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski.
The series finale also marks the 800th career game for NM State head coach Kathy Rodolph and the final home game for the five Aggie seniors who will be honored in a ceremony at the end of the twin bill.