Nine-Run Inning Fuels Aggie Rally Past No. 18 Nebraska

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State softball team did something no one had ever done to the Nebraska softball team, score 16 runs, as the Aggies defeated the 18th-ranked Huskers, 16-11, in a shootout at the NM State Softball Complex on Friday.

The most runs Nebraska had given up in a game in the history of the program was 15, but NM State, which moved to 2-1 in the Hotel Encanto Tournament, hit five home runs and racked up 20 hits en route to its record-breaking 16 runs.

It wasn’t easy, however, for the home team as the Aggies had to come back from deficits on two different occasions, including an 11-7 deficit in the middle of the sixth.

“I think we showed a lot of heart and fight today and no matter what the other team did we absolutely came back and fought,” Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “We just stepped up to the plate with composure and kept going after it.”

Senior Malena Padilla and junior Fiana Finau each finished with a couple of long balls. One of Padilla’s homers was a grand slam in a nine-run sixth inning that sealed the deal for the Aggies. Padilla finished 3-for-5 at the plate including a game-high RBIs while Finau went 2-for-2 after hitting two-consecutive home runs and then being walked three-straight times, including two intentionally.

“Malena’s grand slam was huge and it came at a pivotal point as it made a big inning bigger,” Rodolph said.

Three pitchers saw action in the circle for NM State as starter Dallas McBride and right-hander Karysta Donisthorpe would both see significant time in the middle of the diamond. Makayla McAdams would also pitch for a short stint in the sixth inning.

In the end it would be Donisthorpe that would pick up the victory to move to 2-0 on the season after pitching four complete innings while not allowing a single run and striking out five Huskers. McBride, meanwhile, would show her power not only in the circle but also at the plate as she had NM State’s fifth home run.

Nebraska would jump out early after the first four batters of the game reached base, leading to three first-inning runs for the visitors.

The Aggies had an immediate answer in the bottom half of the frame, however, as Finau blasted her first home run of the day, a two-run shot that brought NM State to within one after one inning of play. Finau then tied the game at three in the bottom of the third after making it two home runs in two at bats. Her second dinger was a solo shot to left center.

“I think Fiana set the tone initially,” Rodolph said. “When she hit that monster shot in the first it gave everybody courage. That first home run absolutely set the tone of ‘We’re here to fight.”

An inning later the Aggies grabbed their first lead of the game after shortstop Haley Nakamura scored on an RBI single by Western Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year Staci Rodriguez to give NM State a 4-3 lead after four innings of play.

Not to be outdone by the Aggie sluggers, Nebraska’s Alicia Armstrong also had two home runs on the day. Her second homer of the day once again tied things up in the top half of the fifth inning.

But as in the first, NM State again answered. This time with three runs in the their half of the fifth, which started with a Padilla solo shot. The Aggies almost broke the game wide open in the inning as first baseman Kelsey Dodd came up with the bases loaded and hit a shot that seemed as if it was going to clear the center-field fence. But Husker center fielder Kiki Stokes reached out and grabbed the ball as the shot just turned out to be a very long third out.

Still, the Aggies held a 7-4 lead heading into the final two innings, but Nebraska showed why it is one of the top teams in the nation. The Huskers came storming back with seven runs on seven hits in the top of the sixth inning to take an 11-6 lead that seemed to give them control of the game before NM State came up in its half of the inning and sealed a top-20 upset with its nine runs.

The Aggies have two more games during their season-opening tournament. NM State plays Texas-San Antonio on Saturday at 4 p.m. before meeting Colorado State to close out the Hotel Encanto Invitational on Sunday at noon.