Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
EL PASO, TX - New Mexico State softball took down UTEP at the Helen of Troy Field on Tuesday. Sophomore Nikki Butler hit her first home run of the season in the team's 8-5 victory.
"Tonight was a great competitive win that included great performances in the circle by both Kayla and Samaria," head coach Kathy Rodolph said. "I feel like Nikki really stepped up for us today. It was good to see us collectively rebound and get into a flow offensively."
After starting the contest with a pair of scoreless innings for both teams, the Aggie (4-3) offense got hot in the third when a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. Kelsey Horton drove home the first two runs with a single up the middle, breaking the stalemate. A fielding error by UTEP's (4-7) left fielder continued the scoring rally for NM State as a pair of runners crossed home plate on the play, extending the Aggie advantage. Butler brought in the final two runs of the inning when she hit a long ball out to center field for her first homer of the season.
Green earned the start in the circle for the Aggies and pitched three scoreless innings before struggling in the bottom of the fourth. After giving up a leadoff single, Green made a throwing error to first base, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. A single down the right-field line by Taylor Sargent brought in the first run of the game and a three-run home run by Mariah Ellis cut into New Mexico State's advantage.
Following the long ball by UTEP, Samaria Diaz entered the circle for NM State. After the Aggies recorded an out, a double to right field scored the fifth and final run of the inning for the Miners.
New Mexico State looked to build on its advantage in the fifth inning and after Fahren Glackin picked up a walk, the Aggies had its opportunity. A two-out triple by Victoria Castro scored the runner from first, extending NM State's lead 7-5.
After pitching a scoreless bottom of the inning, Diaz struggled in the sixth, giving up a one-out walk to UTEP. Green game back in to pitch for the Aggies and held the Miners scoreless in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, New Mexico State looked to add to its advantage as Horton and Castro reached on a walk and single, respectively. A single by Butler scored the runner from second, extending NM State's 8-5 lead.
The team looked to finish off the Miners in the bottom of the seventh. However, Green hit trouble when a pair of singles, a fielder's choice and a walk loaded the bases with two outs in the inning. For the final out, Glackin leaped into the air to make the catch for the final out, ending the game and giving the Aggies the 8-5 victory.
Green moves to 4-1 the season with the victory. She pitched 4.2 innings allowing four earned runs on nine hits and striking out three Miner batters. Devyn Cretz received the loss as she pitched 2.2 innings allowing six runs on three hits.
New Mexico State returns to El Paso, Texas, for a tournament at UTEP beginning on Friday, Feb. 23. The Aggies take on Portland State at 10:30 a.m. MT, to open the tournament.