LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A powerful first inning lifted the New Mexico State softball team to an 8-0 win over the Seattle U Redhawks in six innings on Friday evening, April 26. NM State improves to 33-15 this season and 14-2 in Western Athletic Conference play.
Sophomore Staci Rodriguez hit her 18th home run of the year, claiming the second spot in the Aggie record books for home runs in a single season. She finished the day going 3-for-3 with two singles and two RBI. The Aggies finished the day with nine hits and eight runs. Five Aggies walked their way on base and the NM State defense held five Seattle U runners on base.
Fellow sophomore Malena Padilla was 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the first and a two-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. Padilla now has six doubles under her belt this season.
Senior hurler Alex Newman worked six complete in the circle for her fourth shutout. She tossed just six hits and one walk with one strikeout in her 12th complete game.
“I thought our offense was terrific tonight and that our defense really stayed behind our pitcher”, head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “Alex pitched a great game for us and we have a solid defense behind her that was able to keep runners from scoring.”
The Aggie defense turned two double played on the night and the work of catcher Alyssa Ruiz and third baseman Emma Adams kept a run from scoring with a throw-down play at third.
The first inning was key for the Aggies as they plated five runs off four hits. Senior Amber Olive and redshirt junior Kristi Covarrubia started things off with back-to-back singles in the bottom of the first, but Olive was out at third on an extra base attempt when Covarrubia got her hit. Padilla had her first hit of the game, the double to right center, to score the runner and put the Aggies on the board.
Padilla was brought around off the bat off Rodriguez who singled to up the middle. She advanced to third on two wild pitches by the Redhawks and was brought in for the third Aggie run after Kelsey Dodd walked on base and Teresa Conrad hit a fielder’s choice.
Dodd and Conrad rounded the bases as the fourth and fifth runs of the inning when a two-RBI fielder’s choice by Ruiz brought the runners around.
“We got key hits early in the game and that was important,” associate head coach Cat Heifner said. “It was nice to see our offense come out swinging early and finish it out in the later innings.”
NM State allowed three hits by the Redhawks in the next four innings, and sent the team away in order in the top of the fifth. That is when Rodriguez led off the home half of the inning with a solo shot over the left center wall for a 6-0 lead.
Dodd came up next for a double to left center, no one was able to move around and score as Seattle worked for three outs on the next three Aggie batters.
A double just inside the left line and a single to left field put runners on for the Redhawks, but senior Tehani Kaaihue, Conrad and Dodd teamed up for a double play, holding the runners on base.
Adams came up with a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth and Olive walked on base. They were both moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt by Conrad to bring Padilla back to the plate. She drilled a double through the left side to score Adams and an error by the Seattle catcher allowed Olive to cross the plate and secure the 8-0 win for NM State in just six innings.
The Aggies finish up the series and the home portion of the schedule with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 27, against the Redhawks. Game one is set for 4 p.m. and will be televised on Comcast New Mexico, Fox Sports Arizona (PLUS) and nmstatesports.com.