Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A nine-run, eight-hit first inning propelled the New Mexico State Softball Team to a 12-2 win over Utah State on Senior Day at the NM State Softball Complex.
With the win, NM State takes over sole possession of sixth-place in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) standings at 5-13 and evens its record at 25-25 overall. Utah State finishes its league ledger one-half game behind the Aggies at 5-14 and claims a 20-29 overall record.
The three-game series sweep was crucial for the Aggies' postseason hopes.
The Crimson and White have three games remaining at San Jose State to attempt to claim the sixth and final spot in the WAC Softball Tournament to be held in Las Cruces. The Aggies need one win against the Spartans to eliminate Utah State. Nevada, the third team battling for the final position, dropped three games at Louisiana Tech this weekend to fall to 3-14 in the WAC. Two Aggie wins at SJSU would eliminate the Wolf Pack; otherwise NM State needs help from Boise State who plays at Nevada to end the season next weekend.
Before the final regular season game at the Complex, the Aggies honored their three seniors Ali Baumhover, Angie Ortega and Torrey Schroeder. All three seniors contributed to the team victory.
Schroeder started in the circle for the Aggies and quickly shut down Utah State's three leadoff batters.
Like in game one of the series, the Aggie bats caught fire with two outs on the board. Sophomore Tiare Jennings started the bottom of the first with a two-out single and later stole second. Batting cleanup, Ortega hit a single to right field to score Jennings. Junior Hoku Nohara made it three consecutive singles with a single up the middle. Freshman Amber Olive extended her hit streak to eight games with a single to load the bases.
USU relief pitcher Mandy Harmon entered the game for starter Kate Greenough after Olive reached base.
But the Aggie hits kept coming. Junior Ashley Maroda ripped a double to right center to clear the bases and put the Aggies up 4-0. Baumhover and freshman Tehani Kaaihue were both hit by pitches from Harmon to load the bases for a second time in the inning.
Freshman Lauren Morizi came on to pinch hit for junior Kylie Randall and Utah State made another change in the circle as Stacey Ellingsworth tried to get the northern Aggies out of a jam.
Morizi drew a walk to score Maroda. Randall came back in to pinch run for Morizi before Jones hit a two-RBI single to make it 6-0 NM State. Randall and Jones were caught in between bases on the throw from the outfield but Randall scored and Jones reached second safely as USU threw the ball around the infield.
Up 7-0, Jennings hit her second single of the inning to score Jones from second. Utah State's Greenough re-entered the game to pitch to Ortega for the second time. The senior swung another single to score Jennings and give the Aggies a 9-0 lead after one.
NM State added to their lead in the second with another two-out rally. Baumhover singled down the right field line to provide the first base runner. Kaaihue walked as did pinch hitter Teresa Conrad to load the bases for Jones.
The junior outfielder responded with a double to clear the bases and give the Aggies a 12-0 advantage after two. As a result, all of the NM State runs were scored with two outs on the board.
Utah State got on the board in the top of the fourth. Schroeder surrendered her first hits of the game in the fourth as right fielder Joreigh Landers doubled down the left field line. Two batters later USU designated player Shasta Tyteca singled to left to score Landers to make it 12-1 NM State.
Sophomore Kelsey Schueler came on for Schroeder in the fifth inning. Utah State responded with a two-out rally of its own. Shortstop Rachel Evans drew a walk. Landers rallied the visitors again with a double to right field to score Evans to yield the final score.
The Aggies continued to be a scoring threat as Schueler loaded the bases. Sophomore Sydney Williard came on to get the final out of the game on a ground out to second.
Schroeder earned the win to even her record at 10-10. Greenough took the loss to fall to 11-15.
NM State concludes the regular season against WAC foe San Jose State with a single game Friday, May 7 at 4:00 p.m. MT. The teams conclude the season with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 8 beginning at 1:00 p.m.