LAS CRUCES, N.M.
(Feb. 8) - The New Mexico State softball team split its two games on
opening day of the 2013 season during the Hotel Encanto Invitational on Friday,
Feb. 8. NM State fell to the Nebraska Huskers 5-1 in the first game of the
season, but came back for a powerful 8-1 victory over the Illinois-Chicago
Flames in the evening game at the NM State Softball Complex.
In the first game of the 2013 season, the Aggies allowed the
Huskers to strike first with a bunt from the lead-off batter. Two hits in the
middle of the lineup brought around the run for NU, giving the team the lead
over the Aggies. A quick first inning put NM State back on the field where the
team allowed just one hit.
Senior pitcher Alex Newman pitched her first strikeout of
the year to open the second inning, but a homerun by the Huskers put them up
two runs going into the bottom half of the inning. A hard-hit double by
sophomore Staci Rodriguez but the Aggies in scoring position with senior Tehani
Kaaihue at the plate. She got on base off a single to the short stop, but the
Aggies were unable to work their way around the bags.
With one run from Nebraska in the top of the fourth, the
Aggies answered back with a solo homerun from sophomore right-fielder Malena
Padilla. Two quick outs closed the inning with the Aggies on the board,
Nebraska earned two more runs in the sixth inning, a solo
homerun from Tatum Edwards to left center and an RBI double that scored the
runner from third after she reached base on a double of her own. NM State was
unable to make up the ground in their half of the inning, leaving the Huskers
with the 5-1 win as the two teams went scoreless in the final inning.
"I thought Nebraska had one of the strongest team's I've
seen from them in a while," head coach Kathy Rodolph said. "I knew that we had
to get out here and play some tough competition early so we knew what we were
working with. It gives us an idea of what we need to work on with this team."
The Aggies made a promising lead early in the first inning
as UIC pitched four straight walks to bring in the Aggies first two runs. As
Rodriquez stepped to the plate for the first time in the game, she fired her
first career grand slam and putting four more runs on the board and giving the
Aggies a 6-0 lead in the first half inning. After freshman Tatum Reedy got on
base by a walk, senior amber olive moved her along with a single to short. Sophomore
Kelsie Dodd drove Reedy around for the seventh Aggie run in the inning with a
single to right field.
NM State worked for
three hits in the inning, but finished the day with a total of nine. Two of
those came in the second inning when Rodriguez hit a single-run homer through
the left side. Padilla came to the plate next for her second hit of the day,
first of the game; a she got two bases off a shot to center field. The Aggies
collected three more hits in the second inning before being retired off a fly
ball to left field.
The Flames made its final attempt with a solo homerun in the
top of the fourth as center fielder Melissa Preish drove one over the right
field fence. The Aggies led off UIC, allowing just three hits on the game as
Newman and sophomore Karysta Donisthorpe worked for four combined strikeouts in
their five innings. It was freshman pitcher Makayla McAdams that closed out the
night for NM State when she and the Aggie defense did not allow a single run in
the last two innings.
"Every player got in the game today, and that was important
for us," Rodolph said. "If we want to compete this season, we are going to have
to use our pitching to our advantage. That is our strongest asset right now and
that showed tonight in game two."
The Aggies continue to host the Hotel Encanto Invitational
on Saturday, Feb. 9, as UIC and Nebraska open the say at 12:30 p.m., and the
Aggies meet the Flames once more at 3 p.m.