Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - It won't go down as a complete game in the record book, but freshman Matalasi Faapito's performance in the circle against Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico was a memorable one.
The first-year phenom recorded every out in NM State's 4-3 win over the Lobos Tuesday evening at the Softball Complex, tossing 6 1/3 innings before her outing appeared to be over. Faapito, however, reentered the ballgame after back-to-back walks by the Aggie bullpen and notched the final two outs to seal the rivalry victory.
NM State improves to 15-8 overall with the win. The Aggies, who have not lost to New Mexico in nearly two years, will see their in-state rival once more this season on Wednesday, April 15.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Aggie bats were active early. Senior Shelby Shultes homered to right center in the bottom of the second before she and her teammates combined to put up three in the bottom of the third.
Senior Nikki Butler ripped a double to right center, scoring senior Jeanelle Medina and giving NM State its first lead at 2-1. Faapito then singled to put runners on first and third with one out for Shultes.
The native of Garden Grove, Calif., delivered yet again. Shultes' double to right center scored both Butler and Faapito, as the Aggies held a 4-1 advantage headed into the top of the fourth.
Faapito, meanwhile, was cruising in the circle and kept the game deadlocked at 4-1 until the top of the sixth, when the Lobos scratched out three runs to close the deficit to one.
Ahead 4-3 in the top of the seventh, Faapito struck out the first batter she faced. Her day appeared to be over after she was relieved by freshman Felicia De La Torre.
De La Torre walked the only batter she faced before giving way to junior Analise De La Roca, who also walked the only batter she faced.
With two runners on and one out in a one-run game, Faapito reentered in the circle. She recorded the final two outs of the seventh without incident, sealing the win and finishing off her unconventional complete game with six strikeouts in seven innings of work.
COACH RODOLPH'S TAKE
On Faapito's performance on the mound
"Mata's a warrior. She's learning what rivalry games mean."
On missed opportunities to blow the game open
"We had opportunities to score a few more runs, but we got a little tight at the end. That's something we've asked our girls to work on - staying consistent and having an aggressive mindset instead of getting on our heels."
On picking up a rivalry win over New Mexico
"Every single time we play a rival, we definitely want to represent Aggie Nation. I felt like we did that today."
NM State departs for a tournament at the University of Oklahoma tomorrow morning. The Aggies will play five games, starting with a contest against Kent State at 9 a.m. MT Friday, March 13.