LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State softball team split its two games on opening day of the 2014 season during the Hotel Encanto Invitational on Friday, Feb. 7. The Aggies opened with an 11-0 loss to No. 15/12 Florida State in five innings and came back for a 6-4 win over Saint Mary’s to close the day.
“I think it was a good learning day for us,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “We gave up more walks than we would have liked in the first game, but kind of got our feet back under us in the second. We are looking forward to tomorrow. This weekend is all about learning and growing and finding out who we are as a team.”
Sophomore Makayla McAdams led the Aggie pitching staff with four strikeouts in five innings, while the four hurlers combined for eight in the two games. Sophomore Fiana Finau went 2-for-3 with a home run and a single. The team finished the day with a total of nine hits and five RBI.
Game one for NM State was all in favor of its nationally-ranked counterpart. The Seminoles scored one in the first on a wild pitch after a walk got the runner on base. The Aggie pitching staff combined for nine walks on the game.
NM State had two reach base in the home half of the first, but was sent away by three strikeouts in five batters. FSU plated two runs in each of the next two innings, but did not notch its first hit until late in the second. A sacrifice fly and a single to second moved the runners across the plate in the second, while it was three hits and an Aggie error that resulted in the two runs in the third.
The Aggies had just one base runner in the second, and were sent away in order in the third, while FSU continued with two more runs in the top of the third off three hits.
Before retiring to the dugout, redshirt sophomore Karysta Donisthorpe pitched her first strikeout of the season in t second to end the day facing 10 batters and giving up four hits.
The Aggies gave up four runs in the fourth, including a three-run home run by third baseman Briana Hamilton. The team attempted to answer back with a single to left by junior Lacey Rother, but she was left stranded at third along with Finau who walked on base.
The Aggies saw one more hit come in the game, a single up the middle from junior Chelsea Dorhwardt, but Florida State sealed the 11-0 win over NM State with two runs in the top of the fifth off two hits.
Game two showed a more composed Aggie team as McAdams and the NM State defense sent Saint Mary’s away in order to start the game. A hit and an error got two on base in the second, but they were both left stranded, paving the way for a big half inning.
NM State plated four runs off three hits in the bottom of the second. Junior Staci Rodriguez got her second hit of the game, finishing 2-for-3 with a single up the middle for an RBI.
The Gaels came up in the top of the third with three hits and two runs. McAdams got the Aggies out of the inning with her second of four strikeouts on the day.
NM State was scoreless in the next two innings with just one hit in the third. In the bottom of the fifth, Finau hit her first home run for the Crimson and White for two RBI as freshman Haley Nakamura pinch ran for a walk.
Saint Mary’s made an effort for a comeback with a two-run bomb of its own in the top of the sixth, just before the Aggie infield worked for its first double-play of the season to get outs at first and second.
Senior right-hander Celisha Walker closed things out for NM State with a strikeout and two outs at first with the help of the Aggie defense for the 6-4 win.
NM State continues with the Hotel Encanto Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 8, welcoming No. 9 Nebraska at approximately 4 p.m. Three games are set before the Aggies take the field, however. FSU meets UTEP at 9:30 a.m., and then faces Saint Mary’s. The Gaels then meet UTEP at 2 p.m. before the Aggie’s close out the day.