Aggie Softball Faces ‘Lopes for WAC Crown

Courtesy of NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State softball team concludes its Western Athletic Conference schedule by hosting Grand Canyon for a three-game series at the NM State Softball Complex this weekend that will determine the regular-season conference champion.

The series kicks off with a single game on Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and concludes with a Saturday doubleheader slated to start at 4 p.m. with game two to follow 30 minutes after game one.

Friday’s game will be the final softball game this season to be televised by the AggieVision production team.  The game can be seen live all over New Mexico on Comcast Cable channel 77.  Satellite subscribers can catch the game live on Altitude 2 and FOX Sports Arizona Plus and can also see a replay of the game that same night at 8:30 p.m. on FOX College Sports Pacific.

ESPN3 will also stream Friday’s game live over the Internet.  Click on the link provided for access.

The Aggies (37-13, 11-1) come into the weekend series with a two-game lead over the ‘Lopes (28-19, 9-3) in the WAC standings.  NM State only needs to win of the three games to claim its second WAC regular-season championship.  Grand Canyon has to sweep the Aggies to pull the title away and claim its second-straight championship.

NM State saw itself in a similar situation last year when it headed to Phoenix to face the ‘Lopes with a one-game lead in the WAC and with a chance to close out the regular-season championship with a sweep.  There was sweep in the series, the first-ever meetings between the two teams, unfortunately for the Aggies it was Grand Canyon who swept the three games en route to its first WAC championship.

NM State is coming off its first conference loss of the season after falling at Bakersfield in the series finale last weekend.  Even with the loss, the Aggies are still having one of the greatest seasons in program history.

The magic number in the national rankings this week for NM State is 12, as the Aggies rank 12th in the nation in scoring (7.22 runs/game), home runs per game (1.58), slugging percentage (.599) and on-base percentage (.442).  NM State also ranks 13th in batting average (.346) and moved up in the RPI rankings this week to 49.

The 2015 Aggie offense is on pace to break the school’s season records for highest batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.  NM State’s home run total of 79 is also three home runs shy of the record for most home runs in a season which stands at 82.

Junior Fiana Finau leads the offense, ranking seventh in the country in home runs (19) and eighth in RBIs (59).  Her home run total is five shy of the single-season Aggie home run record which Hoku Nohara holds after slamming 24 home runs in 2011.  Senior Staci Rodriguez hit 20 in 2013 and sandwiched in between Finau and Nohara.

Rodriguez has 53 career home runs, only trailing Nohara who finished her NM State career with 64 homers.  Rodriguez is also one run shy of tying the Aggie single-season record for most runs scored and is two RBIs short of tying Tiare Jennings for second place on the career RBIs list.

Grand Canyon is coming off a weekend where its thrashed Utah Valley at home, winning all three games by at least nine runs and scoring at least 15 runs in each game.  The ‘Lopes are led by senior outfielder Kayla Henry who is batting .412 and leads a group of 10 players who are hitting above .300.

Fans are encouraged to wear white on Friday for an Aggie “White Out.”  Saturday will be NM State’s final regular-season home game, although the Aggies do host the WAC Tournament.  It will be Senior Day on Saturday as NM State celebrates its five seniors, Staci Rodriguez, Lacey Rother, Malena Padilla, Kelsey Dodd and Nikki Diaz.

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