NMSU Softball Claims Fourth Straight WAC Regular Season Title

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State softball closed out its final Western Athletic Conference series with a doubleheader against Seattle U on Saturday. The Aggies took down Redhawks 9-1 in five innings to start the day and a walk-off grand slam by Kelsey Horton gave the Aggies the 12-2 win in the series finale. By taking the series from Seattle U, New Mexico State claimed their fourth-straight WAC regular-season title and secured the top seed for the 2018 WAC Tournament.

"I'm really proud of the way we simplified things today," head coach Kathy Rodolph said. "We were able to rebound from yesterday by not allowing our moments get too big. We realized if we keep our moments simple, we do simple well."

GAME ONE

NM State (26-21, 11-4 WAC) came out hot in the team's first at-bat when Rachel Rodriguez led off with a single up the middle. Horton reached on an error and Fahren Glacken walked to load the bases without an out recorded. Victoria Castro brought home the first run of the game with an infield single and a fielder's choice by Amy Bergeson scored New Mexico State's second run of the contest. The Aggies crossed their third run in the inning despite having a lineout end the rally and held a 3-0 lead heading into the second frame.

Starting pitcher Samaria Diaz hit trouble in the following inning when the sophomore gave up a leadoff homer. A hit batter, an error and a walk loaded the bases for SU (32-21, 10-5 WAC) but Diaz struck out her next batter and a pop out to the New Mexico State catcher ended the Seattle U at-bat.

In the bottom of the inning, NM State rallied again when Rodriguez hit a two-out single. Horton followed with her 20th homer of the season, extending New Mexico State's 5-1 lead. For the next Aggie at-bat, Castro started the frame with a leadoff single. With two outs on the board, Jeanelle Medina came through with a clutch single, bringing Caity Szczesny to the plate. The sophomore hit an RBI single as Castro came home on the play, adding to NM State's lead.

Holding a 8-1 advantage, Shelby Shultes hit a single to left field to start the Aggies at-bat in the fifth inning. With Destiny Blueford in to pinch run, Jeanelle Medina put down a solid sacrifice bunt to advance the sophomore the second. A wild pitch during Szczesny's at bat moved Blueford to third and after Szczesny and Horton walked, a walk-off walk with Glackin at the plate gave NM State the 9-1 five-inning victory.

Diaz improved to 4-9 with the win as she pitched 4.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and struck out two SU batter. Analise De La Roca went 0.2 innings and did not allow a hit in her appearance.

GAME TWO

A pair of scoreless innings for both teams started the series finale, but Shultes got the offense going with a leadoff single in the third. After Blueford came in to run for the sophomore and stole second, Szczesny recorded an RBI double to bring home the first run of the game. Rodriguez followed with a walk and Horton continued the rally with her second home run of the day to give NM State the 4-0 lead.

De La Roca pitched three scoreless innings before hitting trouble in the fourth when she allowed a two-run homer to Maddy Kristjanson. Diaz came in to relieve the freshman in the circle and struck out the only batter she faced, closing out the Redhawks at-bat.

In the bottom of the frame, Shultes and Medina hit back-to-back singles with one out on the board. Szczesny hit her second home run of the season, a long ball to left field, to give the Aggies a 7-2 advantage over the Redhawks. The rally continued as Rodriguez hit a single through the left side and Glackin drew a walk. Nikki Butler came through with an RBI single, scoring Rodriguez for the fourth run of the inning.

With the regular-season title in their grasp, Medina and Szczesny recorded back-to-back singles with two outs in the fifth inning. Rodriguez drew a walk, bringing Horton to the plate. The junior came through with her third homer of the day, a grand slam, securing the Aggies' 12-2 victory and the WAC regular season title.

De La Roca claimed her ninth victory in the circle when she went 3.2 innings and allowed two runs on two hits while striking out three. Diaz pitched 1.1 innings in relief struck out three Redhawks while allowing a single hit.

The NM State squad closes out the regular season against No. 9 Arizona State with a doubleheader on Tuesday, May 1 with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. MT.