Aggies Clinch Top Spot in Tournament

Courtesy of NMSU

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The New Mexico State softball team got great pitching in the circle to sweep a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader from CSU Bakersfield on Friday at the Roadrunner Softball Complex, taking game one 1-0 and game two 7-2.

The Aggies (37-12, 11-0 WAC), known for their high-power offense, used great starting pitching from Karysta Donisthorpe and Dallas McBride along with a clutch relief performance from Makayla McAdams to remain perfect in WAC games and secure the No. 1 seed in the upcoming WAC Tournament in Las Cruces.

“It was nice to secure the top seed for the WAC Tournament,” Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “However, in order to accomplish all of our team goals we need to make sure we compete pitch to pitch.  Karysta and Dallas both did a great job of doing this in the circle today.  I am confident we will commit to that mindset tomorrow.”

McBride helped her cause with her sixth home run of the season while senior Malena Padilla finished both games a combined 3-for-6.

Although NM State is guaranteed the top seed in the conference tournament, it still has not won the regular-season title as second-place Grand Canyon, who is ineligible for postseason play, remains in the hunt for the crown.

The Aggies did, however, reach another milestone as the win in game one was the 100th win for NM State in WAC conference play.  The team is currently in its 10th season in the conference.

Donisthorpe started the opener and spread out five hits over 6.1 innings without allowing a run while striking out four ‘Runners to improve to 18-4 on the season.  After getting the first out in the bottom of the seventh, she did run into a little bit of trouble after back-to-back Bakersfield hits, but McAdams came in and stopped the rally to get her second save of the season.

The final out of the contest came on an incredible play by Aggie shortstop Haley Nakamura.  With the tying run at third and the winning run at first, Bakersfield second basemen Adrianna Cardoza hit a hard grounder up the middle that seemed to have tied the game.  But Nakamura made a diving attempt at the ball and with the same motion caught the ball and tagged the second-base bag with her leg to mark the final out of the game and secure the NM State win.

Roadrunner starter Kelsie Monroe, who leads the WAC in ERA, showed why she is a top candidate for WAC Pitcher of the Year as she matched Donisthorpe inning by inning and held the conference’s top offense to only six hits.

NM State had a chance to jump on Monroe early as the Aggies loaded the bases in the top of the first with nobody out but could not plate a run after two strikeouts and a line drive to second base.

NM State finally got a run off of Monroe in the top of the sixth.  Kelsey Dodd began the inning with a single and advanced to second base after the ‘Runner center fielder had trouble handling the ball.  A couple of batters later Lucy Mendoza, who was pinch running for Dodd, scored the only run of the game off of a Padilla RBI single.

McBride went the distance in game two for her 12th win of the season (12-5).  She only allowed two runs in the sixth inning and held Bakersfield to four hits while striking out five batters.

As in game one, it was a pitcher’s duel early, as neither team could score through the first three innings.  But the Aggies broke open the game with four runs in the top of the fourth.

NM State began the inning with three-straight singles up the middle, the third by Fiana Finau, who had her game with a home run streak end, scored Emma Adams, who had the first single.  A couple of batters later, it would be McBride who would ensure her 12th win with a three-run blast to straightaway center field.

Rachel Rodriguez led off the top of the fifth with a double and later scored to increase the Aggie lead to 5-0 after five innings.  Bakersfield would get its two runs in the sixth, but NM State got them right back in the top of the seventh after Padilla and Rodriguez began the inning with a tripe and walk respectively and later scored on a Staci Rodriguez two-RBI single.

The Aggies look to make it 12 WAC wins in a row as they conclude their three-game series with Bakersfield on Saturday with a single game beginning at 2 p.m. (MDT).

BOX SCORE GAME 1        BOX SCORE GAME 2

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