Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State softball remained undefeated on Saturday when the team battled New Mexico and UTEP as a part of the NM State Invitational. The Aggies took down the Lobos 9-8 and run-ruled the Miners 12-3 at the NM State Softball Complex.
Analise De La Roca got the start in the circle and the sophomore struggled early, allowing back-to-back doubles as well as a single to start the contest. Head coach Kathy Rodolph quickly made a change, bringing in senior Kayla Green to manage the damage. Green recorded three-straight outs but the Aggies (3-0) were behind 2-0 before their first at-bat.
In the bottom of the frame, a walk and a hit batter put the first NM State runners on base. Kennedy Johnson brought home Victoria Castro from third after recording a sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit in half. After a scoreless second inning by both teams, New Mexico (2-1) extended its lead in third when a Lobo sacrifice fly brought in the third run for the team.
Following a quiet fourth by both squads, the Aggies rallied, beginning with a two-run blast by Kelsey Horton. Another home run followed by fellow senior Victoria Castro, which gave NM State the 4-3 advantage. UNM made a change in the circle after allowing the back-to-back homers but the momentum remained with New Mexico State. Nikki Butler sent a double through the left side and after Keala Brown pinch ran for the catcher, Johnson brought the runner home on a fielder's choice.
Leading 5-3, Kayla Bowen kept the rally alive when she reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Fellow freshmen Mya Felder got on base with a single before Bowen crossed the plate on another wild pitch, giving the NM State squad the 6-3 advantage.
UNM did not go away quietly, posting four runs in the top of the sixth to regain the lead. But the New Mexico State bats remained alive and another two-run homer from Horton gave the Aggies the 8-7 advantage. With one out on the board, Butler crushed a long ball for NM State, providing a two-run cushion entering the seventh.
The team needed the run support, as Green struggled to close out the contest. The pitcher allowed a leadoff homer to the Lobos, cutting the Aggie advantage in half. Rodolph turned to Samaria Diaz to finish the contest and the junior closed out the game with a strikeout, securing NM States 9-8 victory.
Green picked up the win when she went 6.0 innings and allowed six runs on seven hits while also striking out five. Diaz earned the save, striking out three of the four batters she faced.
The Aggie bats remained hot in the team's game against UTEP (1-3) and after Castro drew a walk, a single up the middle by Butler put a pair of NM State runners on with only one out on the board. A wild pitch advanced the runners and Johnson brought Castro home with a single to left field. Another walk loaded the bases for New Mexico State and the UTEP pitcher could not find her rhythm, walking another batter and giving New Mexico State the 2-0 lead after the opening frame.
The advantage did not stay with the Aggies as double brought in a pair for the Miners, tying the game. Rodolph once again looked to Diaz to contain the opposition and after hitting her first batter faced, she walked in the third run of the inning, giving UTEP the one-run lead.
However, the NM State offense remained on the attack and the team put a pair of runners on with just one away. After Butler reached on a fielder's choice, the third walk of the inning loaded the bases. Felder came up clutch with a double to right center, clearing the bases, and Kennedi Sorensen followed with a single to score Fielder, which gave NM State the 6-3 advantage.
Both teams went away quiet; in the third but New Mexico State came alive in the fourth, beginning with a leadoff single by Johnson. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases and a fly out scored the runner from third. NM State drew another walk, reloading the bases and a single by Horton gave the Aggies the 8-3 advantage. Castro picked up another walk, which brought in the ninth New Mexico State run and a double by Butler cleared the runners, extending the 12-3 lead.
Needing just three outs to close the run-rule victory, Diaz struckout back-to-back batters before a fly out ended the Aggies 12-3 victory.
Diaz earned her first win, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing just two hits while striking out five. In her collegiate pitching debut, Chloe Rivas went 1.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits.
The Aggies close out the NM State Invitational with a game against Creighton. First pitch from the tournament finale is set for 10 a.m. MT.