Courtesy of NMSU
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – It was an up and down day for the New Mexico State softball team at the 2015 Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday as the Aggies got run-ruled by Bakersfield, 10-2, in five innings before they themselves run-ruled Utah Valley, 18-3, in five innings to set up a rematch with the ‘Runners on Saturday for the WAC championship.
NM State (44-14) lost for the second time to Bakersfield (21-23) this season, ending a six-game current winning streak. The loss dropped the Aggies to the loser’s side of the bracket, but NM State rebounded quickly by pounding the Wolverines(18-41) by 15 runs to end their season, along the way tying the program record for wins with 44 and breaking the runs scored in a season record. The old record stood at 423 runs in 2011, the 2015 Aggies now have marked 429 runs.
“I thought we played with intent in game two,” NM State head coach Kathy Rodolph said, “and that’s what it’s going to take to finish where we want to finish tomorrow.”
Where coach Rodolph and the Aggies want to finish is as WAC Tournament champions for the second time in program history. But to accomplish that goal they will have to beat Bakersfield twice tomorrow at the NM State Softball Complex. The first game is set for a 1 p.m. start. If game two is necessary, it will begin approximately 35 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
As for Friday, senior first baseman Kelsey Dodd belted two home runs in game number two while junior Emma Adams added a grand slam in the romp. WAC Freshman of the Year Dallas McBride, meanwhile, picked up her second win of the tournament to move to 17-5 on the season.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, it was not as smooth sailing in the first game. NM State could only muster four hits and two unearned runs off of Bakersfield starter Kelsie Monroe, who for the third time this season shut down the high-octane Aggie offense. Monroe is the only WAC pitcher to beat NM State this season, a feat she has now accomplished twice.
The Aggies, who as part of tournament rules, were the visiting team in their home field for both games, got their two runs right away after a two-out error allowed a Dodd RBI single and a Malena Padilla RBI double. But that would all that NM State would be able to muster versus Monroe.
The ‘Runners immediately took the lead back in the bottom of the first after marking three runs off of Aggie starter Karysta Donisthorpe, who fell to 20-5 with the loss. After allowing the first two batters in the second to reach base, Donisthorpe was pulled for Makayla McAdams, but she did not fare much better, as Bakersfield added another three runs in the frame to take a 6-2 lead after two.
While the NM State offense was being shut down by Monroe, the ‘Runners added two runs in the third and then capped off the victory with a walk-off home run in the fifth by left fielder Madison Bundy.
The Aggies got off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning versus Utah Valley as Haley Nakamura led off the game with a double and Adams followed with a walk. Both would later score for the two-run advantage.
This time, however, NM State made sure it would not surrender that lead. It did so by adding six more runs in the top of the second as the team batted around. Leading 8-0, the Aggies added three more in the third, all off of a Dodd three-run shot down the right-field line. NM State had built a comfortable 11-0 lead after three innings.
The lead continued to grow in the fourth with two more runs, but cruising 13-0, the Aggies had a major scare in the bottom of the fourth as McBride was hit with a hard liner straight to her neck and face area. Fortunately, the freshman barely stuck her glove out and partially blocked the ball from hitting her straight in the face at full force.
Still, McBride was rattled and a batter later was pulled for McAdams. McBride would finish her stint allowing only four hits and three runs in three innings of work. The ‘Runners would mark those three runs in that fourth inning to cut into the lead 13-3.
But Dodd led off the top of the fifth with her second long ball of the game. The home run started a five-run inning that culminated with Adams’ grand slam that sealed the five-inning win for NM State and left them two games shy of the WAC title.