LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Feb. 10) - The New Mexico State softball team picked up its first win over I-25 rival New Mexico on Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 win over the Lobos at the NM State Softball Complex.
The seven-inning battle started with a quick pace for the Aggies as sophomore right-hander Karysta Donisthorpe struck out the first two Lobos she faced in the circle. She finished the game with six strikeouts in her three complete innings for NM State. Combined, the four Aggie hurlers worked for 11 strikeouts on the day while walking just two.
"I truly believe that the strength of this team is our experience in pitching," head coach Kathy Rodolph said. "This team is one of the hardest working teams I have ever had and now in preseason, we are trying to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are before we go into conference, because we expect to make another run for the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) title."
Though the teams stayed scoreless through the first two innings, senior Amber Olive was the first Aggie to record a hit, going 2-for-4 on the day with two runs, when she knocked a short bunt between the circle and the plate. Faulty pitches got the next two Aggies on base before a wild pitch was just what Olive needed to plate the first run.
As junior Celisha Walker came in to pitch for NM State, she worked two strikeouts in the Lobos half of the fourth and one in the fifth. The Aggie defense behind Walker helped keep the Lobos from more than five hits on the day and only allowed four batters to the plate in each of the middle two innings.
In the home half of the fifth, Conrad picked up her first hit of the day with a double down the left line. Olive followed that with her second single of the day before sophomore Kelsey Dodd smacked an RBI single through center field to open the path for Conrad to plate a run.
Next up for the Aggies, sophomore Tina Cisneros found the right spot on the left line to drill a single past third base, enough to bring Dodd around the bases for the third Aggie run of the day.
Conrad earned her second double of the game with a long shot on the right side, but was left stranded on base in the Aggie half of the sixth.
The Lobos made an attempt in the sixth with back-to-back singles to lead off their half of the inning and a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, but Walker and the NM State infield were able to shut down the rally attempt before the Lobos could score.
NM State's Makayla McAdams and Alex Newman worked the final inning in the circle to shut down the Lobos and secure the 3-0 win for the Aggies.
"It will be a biggie for us, and like in all rivalry games you want to try to take care of business at home," Rodolph said of the upcoming rivalry game with UTEP on Tuesday. "We expect them to come here and battle us just like we will go down there and battle them. It will be a good one."
The Aggies are now 3-1 on the season and take a 1-0 lead in the Rio Grande Rivalry series. Next on the bill for NM State is the southern rivalry with the UTEP Miners on Tuesday, Feb. 12. First pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. in Las Cruces and is set to be televised on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.