PHOENIX – The New Mexico State softball team lost both games of a doubleheader Friday April 18 to the Grand Canyon University Antelopes at Stapleton-Pierson Field. The Aggies fell 7-1 in game one before losing a close matchup 2-0 in the nightcap.
NM State went into the doubleheader with a one-game lead over the ‘Lopes in the Western Athletic Conference standings. By nights end the Aggies see themselves at 26-18 overall and 8-3 in WAC play while GCU improves to 24-17 and 9-2 in conference matchups. It is the ‘Lopes that now hold a one-game lead atop the WAC.
The powerful Aggie offense was silenced on Friday as NM State could only muster a total of seven combined hits during both games, four in game one and three in game two. Five total errors, including four by the middle infield, also hampered the Aggie effort.
Game one went to GCU, 7-1, after ‘Lopes pitcher Stephanie Pesqueira allowed only one hit through six innings, a single by first baseman Kelsey Dodd in the second.
GCU, meanwhile, struck early off of Aggie starter Karysta Donisthorpe, marking three runs in the first three innings. Donisthorpe pitched a complete game in the circle, falling to 10-9 on the season.
The ‘Lopes, who spread out 12 hits in six innings, added five runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 7-0 lead heading to the final frame.
NM State finally got on the board in the seventh on three singles. Catcher Alyssa Ruiz marked an RBI after her single to center scored Chelsea Dohrwardt, who was pinch running for sophomore Fiana Finau. Finau got the first single of the inning for the Aggies, a shot up the middle. But is wasn’t nearly enough as GCU broke NM State’s five-game winning streak.
Game two was more heavily contested as Aggie right-hander Makayla McAdams and ‘Lopes starter Taylor Nowlin battled in the circle. Like Donisthorpe, McAdams pitched a complete game for NM State, only giving up one earned run while striking out a couple of GCU hitters.
The game would remain scoreless through the first three innings. The Aggies got the first hit of the game in the top half of the fourth after a two-out double by second baseman Brennalyn Nakamura. The shot to right-center advanced center fielder Staci Rodriguez, who had reached on a walk, to third base. The two NM State runners were stranded, however, after junior Lacey Rother popped up harmlessly to the second baseman.
The ‘Lopes would take advantage during their half of the fourth, marking the only two runs of the game after leading off the inning with a triple and a single.
The two runs would be sufficient as the Aggies could only muster a single in the fifth and another in the seventh off of Nowlin during the final three innings.
NM State will now try to pull even with GCU in the WAC standings as the two teams face off for the series finale on Saturday afternoon. The matchup of the top-two teams in the conference is scheduled for a 2 p.m. (MDT) start.