Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS VEGAS, NV - The New Mexico State softball team dropped a pair of games on the opening day of the Eller Media Classic hosted by UNLV Friday evening.
Errors proved costly for NM State (11-8) in game one against Illinois (7-8) in the Aggies' opener, falling 4-3 to the Fighting Illini. In the nightcap, hits were a premium for NM State who posted one run on four hits in a 6-1 loss to host UNLV.
In game one junior Alex Newman started in the circle for the Aggies while Pepper Gay started for Illinois.
The Fighting Illini opened the first with a two-out solo home run to take an early 1-0 lead. A pair of Aggie errors led to two more Illinois runs in the top of the third inning to increase the lead to 3-0. The rally chased Newman from the circle after two innings pitched as freshman Karysta Donisthorpe came on to close out the inning.
Senior Tiare Jennings led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk. A one-out single by freshman Malena Padilla led to Jennings scoring from second after an Illinois fielding error to make it 3-1 Illinois after four.
Another Aggie fielding error in the top of the fifth led to another UI run a few batters later via a sacrifice fly. Illinois' defense held in the bottom of the frame to maintain its 4-1 advantage.
After an Illini leadoff single in the top of the sixth, sophomore Celisha Walker came on to pitch for the Aggies in relief. Walker and the Aggie defense held for the final two innings.
A two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh scored two runs for NM State. With two outs, sophomore Kristi Covarrubia advanced to first after being hit by the pitch. Next up, Jennings earned her second walk of the game. A single to third by Valerie Swedberg loaded the bases for the Aggies.
Padilla came through with another single to score two as Swedberg held up at third. An NM State pop-up to first ended the Aggie rally, and the game, with runners on the corners.
Newman fell to 8-4 on the year with the loss. Gay improved to 5-2 for Illinois after the win.
Donisthorpe started in game two for the Aggies while UNLV started Amanda Oliveto.
After two scoreless frames, NM State opened the scoring in the top of the third. Junior Tehani Kaaihue led off the inning with a double at the left center wall. Covarrubia later sliced a single down the right field line to score Kaaihue and give NM State a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore Celisha Walker came into the game for the Aggies with two outs in the fourth and closed out the Rebels in four at-bats for the fourth consecutive inning.
UNLV tied the game at 1-1 after a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Rebels attacked with five runs in the bottom of the sixth for the winning margin. UNLV hit a single off of Walker to lead off the frame as Aggie senior pitcher Sydney Williard came into the game.
UNLV welcomed the new pitcher with a two-run homer and three base hits for a 3-1 advantage. Donisthorpe then re-entered the game and gave up a three-run shot to clear the bases, for a 6-1 UNLV lead.
Walker suffered the loss for NM State to drop to 3-2 while Oliveto moved to 5-4 on the season with the win.
New Mexico State continues play at UNLV's Eller Media Classic on Saturday against Seton Hall and Florida Atlantic.