LAS CRUCES, N.M. (March 22) – After starting the regular season with a 16-12 regular-season record, the New Mexico State softball team fell in its Western Athletic Conference opener on Friday evening in a 8-4 battle with Louisiana Tech. NM State moves to 16-13 on the season and opens league play with a 0-1 record.
The Aggies had seven hits on the night for four runs and three RBI. Sophomore Staci Rodriguez led the Aggies going 2-for-4 with two base hits and one RBI.
In the circle, senior hurler Alex Newman worked for her sixth complete game of the season with three strikeouts and just three earned runs allowed. She let 11 Lady Techster hits on the board, but had just one walk during her seven innings at work.
“You have to give credit where credit is due, and I think Louisiana Tech came out and played well today,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said of the conference opener. “I challenged the girls to get back in it after the first couple of innings and I really liked our battle back.”
NM State took an early lead with a two-run first inning. A single by Kristi Covarrubia led things off for NM State as she was eventually brought around the bases by Rodriguez’ first base hit of the day.
With loaded bases and senior Teresa Conrad in scoring position after being hit by the pitch to reach base, Tech’s pitcher Anna Cross pitched her second walk of the inning to bring Conrad across the plate for a 2-0 lead over the Lady Techsters.
La Tech came up with a big four-run inning in the top of the second with a two-out grand slam by Cross after Newman had struck out two. Each of the four runs went down unearned as freshman Emma Adams picked up her first error in conference play.
Louisiana Tech had a successful third inning after sending the Aggies away in order in the bottom half of the second. Two hit helped plate two runs for Tech with a bases-loaded single scored the fifth run of the game and a fielder’s choice ended the top half of the inning, but not before the sixth Techster run was scored on the play.
A fielding error by the Aggies resulted in the eighth run for Louisiana Tech, while the Aggies remained scoreless until the home half of the sixth.
Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Sophomore Kelsey Dodd singled up the left side and Malena Padilla doubled up the left line to bring up fellow sophomore Lacey Rother to pinch run for the Aggies. Rother came up with her second sacrifice fly of the season to bring pinch runner Chelsea Dohrwardt around to score.
Adams walked her way on base in the same inning and was brought around after a single-base bunt by senior Amber Olive and a pair of fielder’s choice plays moved Adams around the bags.
With the late attempt for a rally in the sixth, NM State left the bases loaded in the inning and both teams were left scoreless in the seventh and final inning.
“I feel like this was a good welcome to conference play for some of our younger players,” Rodolph said. “It is going to be an all-out battle and whichever nine players are in the game, they’ve got to have the courage that they have the ability to throw punch back when the opposing team throws punches our way.”
NM State continues with the conference-opening series against La Tech with a double header on Saturday, March 24. The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 4 p.m., with Jay Sanderson making the call on KSNM AM570. Game two of the day is set for 6 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.