NM State Suffers Pair of One-Run Losses at Hawai'i
HONOLULU -The New Mexico State softball team dropped a pair of 5-4 decisions to Hawai'i at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium Saturday night.
NM State (37-15, 14-4 WAC) scored all of its runs off of three home runs in game one. The Aggies did not trail until the bottom of the sixth inning when UH left fielder hit her second straight game-winning RBI of the weekend with a two-run solo shot to left center field.
In game two, Hawai'i (33-16, 11-7 WAC) clinched the game in the bottom of the seventh after NM State tied the game in the top of the sixth. UH became the first WAC opponent to win the series against NM State this season and just the fourth team to take two games from the Aggies in 2011. The series sweep is the first by an Aggie WAC opponent since Fresno State swept three games just over a year ago in late April 2010.
Boise State swept Fresno State this weekend to move into sole possession of first place at 15-3 in the WAC. The Aggies' final home series against Boise State next weekend will decide the regular season WAC Championship. Fresno State can only tie for first place as the Bulldogs lost both series to the Aggies and Broncos.
In the circle, Aggie freshman Celisha Walker faced off against UH's Kaia Parnaby for game one.
Senior Kylie Randall cranked her second home run of the season, third of her career, off of Parnaby over the right field fence in the first at-bat of the game to put NM State up 1-0 early. Parnaby recovered by striking out the next three Aggies.
Hawai'i responded in the bottom of the first to tie the game. The Rainbow Wahine opened with a single to left center. A fielder's choice placed a runner on first with two outs but UH ripped a double to score the runner from first to knot the score at 1-1.
In the top of the second, NM State added to its total. Senior Ashley Maroda hit a one-out single up the middle to break up Parnaby's string of strikeouts. Next up, freshman Valerie Swedberg hit her eighth home run of the season to push NM State ahead 3-1 heading into the bottom of the frame.
Walker and the Aggie defense retired the Wahine in order in the UH half of the second.
NM State stranded two in the top of the third and maintained the 3-1 lead.
UH rallied with two outs on the board again, hitting a single followed by a home run to tie the game at 3-3 after three innings.
Neither team scored in the fourth inning. Aggie junior Kelsey Schueler came into the game in relief of Walker with a runner on first but was able to get out of the inning with three straight fly outs.
The game remained tied at 3-3 after five as each team stranded one runner on base.
Maroda put NM State up 4-3 after a solo home run over the wall in deep center field to open the Aggie half of the sixth inning. Subsequently, Jenna Rodriguez took over pitching duties in the circle, forcing three fly outs to get out of the inning.
UH led off its half of the sixth with a single followed by the home run from Aguirre that held up for the 5-4 victory.
NM State stranded one in the bottom of the seventh.
UH reliever Jenna Rodriguez won her second game of the year at 2-0 while Schueler dropped to 3-3 with the loss.
In game two in the circle it was a rematch of Friday night's series opener as Aggie sophomore right hander Alex Newman dueled UH junior Stephanie Ricketts.
After two scoreless innings, NM State struck first in the top of the third inning. Senior Kandis Jones singled to start the inning. Junior Tiare Jennings walked to put two runners on. Next up, Nohara notched her second hit of the game with an RBI double to deep left center to score Jones and give NM State a 1-0 early lead.
UH answered in the bottom of the third inning with two unearned runs. Three singles and an Aggie error led to the Rainbow Wahine taking their first lead of the game at 2-1 after three.
After Ricketts drew three straight fly outs from the Aggies in the fourth, Hawai'i doubled its score in the bottom of the frame. A UH leadoff double led to Newman's departure from the circle for senior Alex Villalobos.
Villalobos and the defense recorded two outs but a walk and a stolen base put two Wahine in scoring position. A UH RBI single scored two to give the home team a 4-1 advantage after four. Schueler came into the game for the Aggies to record the final out from the circle in the fourth.
Neither team scored in the fifth inning.
The Aggies used a two-out rally to tie the game in the top of the sixth and chase Ricketts from the circle. Sophomore Teresa Conrad reached on a fielder's choice as UH got Swedberg at second who had singled one at-bat earlier. A two-out single by freshman Alyssa Ruiz put two runners on.
Sophomore Tehani Kaaihue, a Hawai'i native, rocketed a home run over the left field fence to drive in three runs and tie the contest at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Kaaihue's eighth homer of the year marks her fourth home run in the last seven games - all hit from the No. 9 slot.
NM State posted five hits in the inning as UH replaced Ricketts with Rodriguez to record the final out.
Schueler allowed just one hit after facing 10 Hawai'i batters.
Tied 4-4 in the top of the seventh, NM State put the first two runners on and moved them into scoring position but could not plate any runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, UH opened with a single through the left side. Newman re-entered the circle with one out and one on to replace Schueler.
With two outs on the board a walk followed by an RBI single off the bat of Jessica Iwata claimed the victory for UH, 5-4.
Newman suffered the loss to drop to 20-6 on the season while Rodriguez improved to 3-0 on the year.
NM State returns to Las Cruces next weekend for the Aggies' 2011 Senior Weekend against Boise State. Seven Aggie seniors will be honored on Saturday. The crucial series between the Broncos and Aggies will determine the 2011 regular season WAC Champion.