TUCSON, Ariz. - The New Mexico State softball team's milestone season came to an end Saturday night after a 6-4 loss to Texas Tech at the Tucson Regional hosted at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Stadium.
NM State (44-17) fell behind 2-0 early in the second inning after a two-run homer by Texas Tech. The Red Raiders added another in the third for a 3-0 lead. The Aggies tied the game in the bottom of the fourth after back-to-back home runs from senior Hoku Nohara and freshman Valerie Swedberg. However, Tech answered with three runs in the top of the fifth to extend its lead to 6-3. NM State added one in the fifth but the Aggies were retired in order over the final two innings of the game.
Swedberg finished the game 3-of-3 at the plate and finished the NCAA weekend 7-of-9 over three games with two home runs. Senior Kandis Jones posted two singles in the losing effort. The Red Raiders posted 12 hits in the game after not logging one on the scoreboard Friday against the Aggies.
"I am extremely proud of my team tonight," said head coach Kathy Rodolph. "What I am most proud of, is the fact that our seven seniors are prepared to take on the world. All good things must come to an end. If I had to pick any team to battle with this season, I would choose this team every time."
Texas Tech (42-15) advances to the regional final against No. 8 national seed Arizona on Sunday.
NM State's final win total of 44 stands as the program record. This season's record marks just the sixth season of 30 wins or more in NM State history. The Aggies finished the year by winning 25 of their final 32 games.
NM State was the designated home team versus Texas Tech Saturday.
Sophomore Alex Newman started for the Aggies looking for a repeat performance against Texas Tech after hurling her first career no-hitter against the Red Raiders on Friday. Kelsey Dennis started in the circle for the Aggies after not pitching against NM State the previous night.
The Red Raiders pounced early on the first pitch with a double to left field. But the Aggies were able to throw the runner out while attempting to steal third base. The Aggies then retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Senior Kylie Randall drew a walk to open for New Mexico State in the problem. Randall later stole her school record 40th base of the season but Texas Tech got out of the inning with three straight outs.
The Red Raiders scored two in the top of the second. After a one-out single, Raven Richardson hit a two-run homer to left field for the early 2-0 Red Raider advantage.
Swedberg singled to open the second for the Aggies. Senior Ashley Maroda moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt but a double play got Tech out of the inning up 2-0. Neither team scored in the third.
An Aggie error with two outs allowed the Red Raiders to score an unearned run in the third after a single up the middle for a 3-0 lead. Freshman Celisha Walker came into the game for the Aggies and got NM State out of a jam down three.
Jones singled to open the Aggie fourth. With one out, Nohara then hit her 24th home run of the year to score two and cut the Tech lead to 3-2. Swedberg followed up with a solo shot to left field to knot the game 3-3.
That caused a pitching change on the Texas Tech side bringing Ashley Brokeshoulder into the circle. After putting two on with walks, Brokeshoulder settled in with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
Texas Tech opened the fifth with a base runner that reached first on a wild pitch. Tech first baseman Sandy James then hit a home run to left center to make it 5-3 Red Raiders. Richardson tripled to center field then scored on an RBI single as Tech led 6-3.
NM State got one back in the bottom of the frame as Jones singled to left center with one out. Swedberg posted her third hit of the day with a two-out single up the middle to score Jones and yield the final score of 6-4.
Neither team scored the rest of the way as Walker suffered the loss to finish the year at 9-6. Brokeshoulder earned the win to improve to 8-0 this season.
The Aggies return 13 players from the record-setting 2011 team after losing seven seniors. NM State signed nine newcomers in the offseason that will join the squad in the fall for the 2012 campaign.
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