LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State softball team battled for a two-game sweep over the third-place Seattle Redhawks on Saturday, April, 27, in a Western Athletic Conference battle. The Senior Weekend doubleheader ended with a 2-0 win in game one and a late-inning rally in game two for a 9-7 win to sweep the series.
Senior Teresa Conrad broke out with a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to lift NM State to a 9-7 win over the Redhawks after sophomore Staci Rodriguez hit two three-RBI bombs in the game.
“I am extremely proud of this team and how they came out and battled,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “It ended up being an outstanding Senior Weekend for our team and our seniors really proved to be great leaders for this team, great ambassadors to New Mexico State University and I am very proud.”
NM State finished game one with a fifth-inning two-RBI single by Kelsey Dodd after both teams were scoreless through the first four and a half innings.
The Aggies finished game one with six hits and two runs. Rodriguez had a double to left center in the first inning. Redshirt junior Kristi Covarrubia started things off with a single to shortstop and was moved over by the two-base swing by Rodriguez.
The Redhawks picked up two hits in their half of the first inning, and did not see another hit throughout the remainder of the game. Sent away in order in five of the next six innings, Seattle only reached base on an Aggie fielding error in the third and a hit-by-pitch in the sixth.
It took until the bottom of the fifth for the Aggies to break the scoreless tie. Dodd hit a two-out single off a full count to score senior Amber Olive and Covarrubia after they each hit a bunt single to get on base. The bases were full of Aggies as a fielder’s choice put Malena Padilla at first before Dodd came to the plate.
In the Seattle half of the sixth, a line out to Conrad in short and a quick throw to pick off the runner at first got two outs on the play. NM State had two double plays during the Friday evening game as well.
Game two got off to a big start when the Aggies sent Seattle away with just one hit, but came back for a three-run bottom of the first. With Olive and Covarrubia leading off the game with base hits, Rodriguez came up for the first three-run bomb of the day for the sophomore.
Padilla also picked up her first hit of the game in that inning, but was out on a double play by SU.
Seattle answered back in the top of the second with a matching three-run home run after two singles put runners on base. With a 3-3 tie, Seattle went to the top of its lineup for another base hit and the second home run of the inning to take a 5-3 lead through one and a half frames.
The teams were scoreless through the next three innings with the Aggies getting four more hits before the bottom half of the seventh. Two of those came from Covarrubia, who finished game two going 4-for-4 with four base hits and two runs. She was 7-for-8 through the three-game series and had two base hits and a pop out in game one.
In the top of the sixth, Seattle extended their lead to 6-3 off a triple to the right corner and a RBI single by the second baseman. The Redhawks back up with a solo home run in the top of the seventh for a 7-3 lead.
Needing to make up at least four runs in the home half of the seventh, the Aggies rallied for a five run, five hit inning with one out on the board. Olive walked her way on base and Covarrubia earned her fourth hit of the day before Rodriguez smashed the second three-run home run of the game to close the gap to 7-6 with one out.
Dodd came to the plate for a single to the right side and pinch runner Chelsea Dohrwardt was moved over to scoring position off a long-ball single to left center by Padilla. With runners at first and second, Conrad came up to the plate for a walk-off home run and three RBI, lifting the Aggies to a 9-7 win.
The sweep over the Redhawks marks the fourth sweep this season during conference play. NM State now sits two games ahead of second place San Jose State going into the final weekend of regular-season play. The Aggies and the Spartans have secured the top-two spots in the WAC Tournament and will battle for the regular-season title on May 3-4, in San Jose, Calif.
“I think San Jose (State) is definitely going to come out for a battle next week and we can’t stop fighting for a second,” Rodolph said. “We have to come out ready for a tough battle and we have to play capture the flag in all three games, just like we have been all season.”
NM State improves to 35-15 this season and 16-2 in WAC play. The Aggies finish the regular season with a battle for the WAC title against San Jose State on May 3-4, in San Jose. Game one is set for 4 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and the doubleheader on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.