Kelsey Horton Walk-Off Home Run Sends NMSU Softball To Championship Saturday

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

PHOENIX, AZ - New Mexico State softball continued its run at the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with a game against third-seeded Grand Canyon on Friday night. The Aggies eliminated the Lopes with a 6-4 walk-off victory when Kelsey Horton hit her fifth home run of the tournament.

NM State (33-21) struck trouble in the top of the first when an error by Kelsey Horton put the leadoff batter for GCU (33-24) on second base, A triple brought the runner home, leaving the Aggies behind 1-0 before their first at-bat.

In the bottom of the frame, Horton launched a ball over the left-field fence, the senior's fourth homer of the tournament, tying the game. During the following frame, Casie Roberto reached on a single before Shelby Shultes broke up the stalemate when she hit a home run to centerfield, putting the Aggies ahead 3-1.

A scoreless third followed for both squad but in the fourth, starting pitcher Analise De La Roca struck trouble when she allowed a single and a double, cutting the New Mexico State lead to one. During the following inning, the sophomore allowed three-straight singles, loading the bases. Head coach Kathy Rodolph went to Samaria Diaz to contain the offense and the junior gave up a sacrifice fly that brought home the tying run and an error scored another run for the Lopes, leaving the Aggies behind 4-3.

NM State went scoreless in the fifth but Nikki Butler began a rally during the next frame, hitting a leadoff single. Keala Brown pinch ran for the junior and Victoria Castro reached on a fielder's choice to put a pair of runners on without any outs. Casie Roberto launched a single to centerfield, bringing Brown home, tying the contest 4-4.

Both teams went scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings and New Mexico State held Grand Canyon scoreless in the ninth with Diaz striking out a batter to end the opposition's at-bat. Jeanelle Medina drove a single off third base with one out on the board before Horton hit her second homer of the game, giving the Aggies the 6-4 walk-off victory.

Diaz pitched 4.2 innings when she picked up the win. The junior allowed one hit and struck out four batters. De La Roca pitched 4.1 innings and gave up four runs on six hits while recording a strikeout.

With the two homers, Horton broke the WAC record, having hit five home runs, so far, during the postseason tournament.

NM State advances to its seventh-straight championship game and New Mexico State is set to face top-seeded Seattle U. First pitch from the contest against the Redhawks is set for 2:30 p.m. MT.