Las Cruces, N.M. (Feb. 15) - The New Mexico State Aggies made a statement on the opening day of the Troy Cox Classic with an 10-1 win over UMKC and a come-from-behind 10-2 win late on Friday evening at the NM State Softball Complex. NM State sits at 6-1 on the season and is on a six-game winning streak.
Senior Tehani Kaaihue went 4-for-5 on the day with four runs and one RBI. Sophomore Lacey Rother led the Aggies with two homeruns in consecutive at bats in the second game of the day and finished her Friday going 2-for-2 with four RBI.
"Learning to win the close ones really helps your team grow," head coach Kathy Rodolph said of the Aggies comeback win over Penn State. "It was nice to see so many people able to contribute tonight."
In the first game of the day, sophomore Karysta Donisthorpe worked for four complete innings and allowed just one hit from the Kangaroos. Earning her first win of the season, Donisthorpe moves her ERA to 2.92 on the season. Junior Celisha Walker also found her way into the circle in the fifth inning where she faced four batters.
The second game was at the hands of veteran Alex Newman as she went the distance in the circle and worked for four strikeouts through her 26 batters faced. The senior allowed just two runs on the game and picks up a 1.18 ERA after her fourth win in the circle of the season.
"I was really proud of Alex's composure in the circle, and the defense that played behind her," Rodolph said. "I thought we had a great outing by Karysta and Celisha as well, and I feel like we are continuing to grow as a team by getting multiple people in the lineup, and I think that definitely by conference, it is going to pay off."
In the first Aggie game, a sacrifice fly out to center brought around the first Aggie run after senior Amber Olive was able to put herself in scoring position with a stolen base. With a 1-0 lead going into the top of the second, UMKC's Katie Kelly hit a homerun to tie the score at one apiece.
The momentum continued to increase for NM State as a standing double by Chelsea Dohrwardt brought the second Aggie run to the board after senior Tehani Kaaihue reached base off a long-shot single to right field. On the defensive side of the third inning, NM State headed back into the dugout after three quick outs on the Kangaroos.
A two-run shot over the right side of the scoreboard by sophomore Kelsey Dodd brought the Aggies to a 4-1 lead over the 'Roos in the home half of the third. NM State was able to rattle UMKC and get on base with a single by Kristi Covarrubia and a pair of walks by the next two NM State hitters. A single to the left side by senior Teresa Conrad started the Aggie rally as she singled to left and scored Covarrubia.
In the fourth inning, NM State collected four hits and six runs with three hitters reaching base off walks. The six runs in the inning put NM State in position to close the game early with a 10-1 lead going into the top of the fifth.
The Aggie defense was able to secure the win with a double play at first and second and a ground out to first to close the game by run rule.
In game two, the Aggies allowed the Nittany Lions to light up the board first with a two-run homer from the centerfielder, Cassidy Bell in the top of the third, after each team went scoreless in the first two innings.
Penn State was able to pick up five of its six hits during the first three at-bats before allowing NM State its first hit in the home half of the fourth. The Nittany Lions kept the Aggies quite as they put NM State down in order in the first and third inning, giving up one error for a base in the second.
As the Aggies stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, Kaaihue got on base with a single and was brought around by sophomore transfer Lacey Rother's first career homerun as an Aggie. Olive was responsible for the sext run with a single to the pocket on the right side.
NM State was quick to return to the bats in the fifth with three more homeruns and seven runs. Sophomore Staci Rodriguez opening the Aggies' half of the inning with a solo homerun before Dodd was out on a fly ball. Kaaihue picked up her first bomb of the season and the Aggies followed up with six more hits before ending the game.
Conrad reached on a standing double to the fence and Rother came up for her second homer in as many at bats. The next three Aggies loaded the bases for freshman Brennalyn Nakamura to get an RBI single in her first appearance of the weekend.
In the final at bats, Rodriguez plated the eighth run with a shot up the middle for a single. It was the bat of Dodd that closed the game for the aggies with a hit through the gap that went down as a fielder's choice, to score Olive with a walk-off win in the bottom of the sixth.
Through seven games, five Aggies are hitting above .500 with a team total of 11 homeruns and 65 hits. Leading the Aggies on the bases is Olive with six stolen bases and five RBI. Rodriguez leads all aggies with 14 RBI, while hitting .450 through her seven starts in center field.
NM State continues with the Troy Cox Classic on Saturday with the first of two Aggie games set for 2 p.m. Texas Tech and UMKC are first on the bill for Saturday with the first pitch at 9:30 a.m.