LAS CRUCES, N.M. (April 12) - The New Mexico State softball team hosts Nevada for a three-game Western Athletic Conference (WAC) series beginning with a 6 p.m. MT contest at the NM State Softball Complex Friday. The teams conclude the series with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 4 p.m.
NM State (19-22, 0-9 WAC) enters the weekend after knocking off rival New Mexico 9-1 in five innings on the road. The Aggies snapped a 10-game losing streak with the run-rule victory over their Rio Grande rivals.
Nevada (13-26, 4-5) plays a doubleheader at UTEP Thursday prior to taking on the Aggies this weekend. The Wolf Pack took one of three games at home last weekend against San Jose State after opening conference action with a 2-1 series win at Utah State.
Fans can listen to games one and three of the series live on KSNM 570 AM with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski. Game two of the series can be seen live on AggieVision with play-by-play from Doperalski and analysis from Melanie Viramontes.
The television broadcast will be carried live locally on KVIA digital channel 7.3, across the state on Comcast affiliates, regionally on Altitude Sports and nationally on ESPN3.com. Fans can also receive updates via Twitter at the Aggies' official account, @NMStateAggies. A live stats link for each game is available at NMStateSports.com.
This critical series marks the midway point of the conference season for the Aggies who are still looking for their first WAC win. After the three games against the Pack this weekend, NM State travels to Fresno State, hosts Utah State and ends the regular season at San Jose State.
Only the top six teams make the WAC tournament hosted by NM State next month. Nevada and Utah State are the two teams directly ahead of the eighth-place Aggies in the current conference standings.
NM State swept the series in 2011 at Reno. The Aggie offense was running on all cylinders, posting eye-popping offensive numbers with 34 runs on 54 hits over the three-game series against the Wolf Pack. The Crimson and White won 12-7 in game one, 10-2 in the second contest and 12-9 in the series finale.
Senior Tiare Jennings led the prolific Aggie offense last season, belting four home runs off of Wolf Pack hurlers. The three games in Nevada marked the middle of Jennings' NCAA-record tying streak of five consecutive games with a home run.
The Pack leads the all-time series 14-11 over the Aggies. In 2010, the Wolf Pack took two out of three games from the Aggies in Las Cruces. Nevada won the opener 8-6 then claimed the first game of a doubleheader, 7-2. NM State rebounded in the final game of the series with a 10-4 victory. That victory snapped an eight-game Nevada winning streak in the series.
NM State won the first meeting in 1987. Nevada won a pair of games in 2003. In 2006 as WAC foes, NM State took the regular-season series 2-1 but Nevada knocked NM State out of the tourney with two wins. NM State won the 2007 series in Reno 2-1 before beating Nevada in the tourney. The Aggies took the first game of the 2008 series before Nevada rattled off eight straight wins in the series.
Five active Aggies are hitting .300 or better coming into this week. They include Aggie junior Amber Olive (.381), senior Tiare Jennings (.343), freshman Malena Padilla (.341), sophomore Valerie Swedberg (.319) and freshman Briana Tovio-Asato (.300).
Two Aggies also hitting above .300 this year were lost three weeks ago to knee injuries. The pair includes sophomore Kristi Covarrubia (.357) and junior Tehani Kaaihue (.303).
Olive leads the team with 17 multi-hit games this season. Padilla now has the longest active hitting streak of six games. Tovio-Asato had an active streak of 21 games in which she had reached base via a walk or hit halted last Saturday at LA Tech.
Freshman Karysta Donisthorpe and junior Alex Newman lead the Aggies in the circle this year.
Donisthorpe has a 6-7 record with a 3.77 ERA this season in 13 starts and 27 appearances. She has allowed 52 earned runs in 96.2 innings of work and boasts a team-high 88 strikeouts.
Newman is 9-12 this season with a 4.45 ERA. In 111.2 innings pitched she has surrendered 71 earned runs. Newman also leads the team with 22 starts and 31 appearances in the circle this year.
Two Wolf Pack batters are hitting .300 or better this season at the plate. Karley Hopkins leads the team with a .318 batting average and 42 hits. Lauren Lastrapes hits .305 and holds the team lead with 23 RBI this season. Ashley Butera leads the Pack with six home runs while hitting .281 this season.
In the circle for Nevada, Mallary Darby leads the Wolf Pack with 19 starts and carries a 6-11 record and 3.39 ERA. Karlyn Jones is 5-4 in five starts and 23 appearances with a 3.68 ERA. Bailey Brewer is 2-8 on the year with a 5.05 ERA in 17 appearances and a dozen starts.
Click NMStateSports.com for all of the latest Aggie softball news this season.