NM State Closes Out Regular Season with UTEP Sweep

Courtesy of NMSU

EL PASO, Texas – The New Mexico State softball team wrapped up the 2015 regular  season by taking two games from I-10 rival Texas-El Paso on Tuesday at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex, winning game one 5-2 before taking a nail biter 2-1 in the nightcap.

The Aggies (42-13) got great pitching performances from freshman Dallas McBride and redshirt junior Karysta Donisthorpe as both NM State hurlers went the distance and allowed the Miners (14-36) a combined three runs on Tuesday.

McBride got the win in game one to improve to 15-5 after only allowing a couple of runs on five hits.  Donisthorpe, meanwhile, also only allowed five hits and reached the 20-win plateau.  She did McBride one better by only allowing a single run en route to finishing the regular season at 20-4.

Sophomore shortstop Haley Nakamura had a great night at the plate going a combined 5-for-7 and scoring three runs.  Senior Malena Padilla wasn’t far behind as she finished 4-for-6.

“It’s always great to sweep a rivalry series,” Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “We got great pitching from Dallas and Karysta tonight.   We stranded a few too many runners but we will have an opportunity to get some good practice in before the conference tournament begins.”

Fiana Finau and Kelsey Dodd each homered in game one.  For Finau it was her 22nd long ball of the season, leaving her only two home runs away from the NM State record for home runs in a season held by Hoku Nohara.

It was also a record-breaking night for senior Staci Rodriguez as the Aggie center fielder scored on Finau’s home run, giving her 62 runs scored on the season, a new NM State record which was previously held by Kandis Jones who scored 61 times in 2011.  Rodriguez also marked 60 runs last year, placing her third on the list.

Finau’s solo shot in the top of the second kicked off the scoring in game one, but UTEP would answer with a run in the bottom of the second and another in the bottom half of the third off of McBride to take a 2-1 lead, their only lead in the two games.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, Nakamura began a two-out rally with a single up the middle.  Rodriguez followed with one of her four walks on the night and was then followed by a shot to straight-away center by Dodd.

The Aggies would add another run in the fifth as Nakamura would once again score after yet another two-out single.

McBride, meanwhile, would settle down after allowing the two early runs.  The freshman only allowed one hit in the final four innings and put the Miners down in order in three of those innings.

Nakamura was placed at the leadoff spot in the second game and immediately continued her great night at the plate with a single to start the game.  She later scored on a Padilla RBI single.  But the damage could have been worse as NM State left the bases loaded, something it would also do in the second inning.  Through two innings the Aggies had left six runners on base and had only plated one run.

Fortunately for NM State, Donisthorpe was dominating the Miner lineup on the other side.  She was perfect through the first three innings before giving up UTEP’s first hit in the bottom of the fourth.   By that time the Aggies had a 2-0 lead after scoring a run in the top half of the inning.

It was all NM State would need, as the Miners did get to Donisthorpe for a run in the sixth, but nothing else.  Donisthorpe finished with eight strikeouts in the nightcap.

The Aggies now focus on the WAC Tournament, which they will host at the NM State Softball Complex from May 7-9, meaning NM State has over a week to prepare as the No. 1 seed.

GAME 1 BOX SCORE           GAME 2 BOX SCORE

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