By Julian Martinez
The NMSU softball team is coming off a banner year for the program but Kathy Rodolph isn’t ready to stop. On Friday the Aggies upset the Incarnate Word Cardinals in two games, 11-1 and 8-0, and on Saturday the Aggies disposed of the University of Texas – El Paso, 4-1, before the Cardinals for a third time, 13-3.
The Aggies got things started on Saturday by plating a couple runs in the first inning against UTEP. With runners on first and second, Fiana Finau singled up the middle to score Rachel Rodriguez. After Kelsey Horton singled to load the bases, catcher Tatum Reedy made use of a productive out as Emma Adams scored on a sacrifice fly to center field.
In the second inning, Brennalyn Nakamura led with a double into center field and two hitters later, Rodriguez singled past the second baseman to make the Aggie lead 3-0.
UTEP answered in the top of the third inning. Kawehiokalani Natane hit a one out single to setup Kaitlin Ryder for a big RBI double. The Aggies held the Miners through the rest of the inning and left the third still leading 3-1.
They got that run back, however, when Adams hit an RBI single to right with two out in the fourth. The combination of Karysta Donisthorpe and Makayla McAdams limited Miner bats to six hits and the one run. Donisthorpe struck out six over 4 1/3 innings and McAdams closed out the final 2 2/3 innings.
The Aggies won 4-1.
The Cardinals did not fair much better, as the Aggies put up runs in the first three innings. Following the third inning, the score already sat at 9-0.
Cardinal pitcher Kristin Hebert could not escape the third as she allowed six runs in total, only two of which were earned.
The Cardinals fought back a little in the top of the fourth inning after their lead-off hitter Danielle Ramirez came through with the first hit of the game for them off of McAdams. The highlight of the inning, and perhaps the game for them, was a big solo shot by Darianne Hale to dead center to bring the score to 9-2.
The Cardinals scored once more in the fifth inning off of an error, bringing the game score to 9-3.
The Aggies ended this game in as dramatic of fashion a game like this could get. Leading 10-3 following an Adams single, her third RBI of the game, Finau came up to the plate. Finau led the Aggies in homeruns last year and was looking for her first of this season and Cardinal’s pitcher Jessica Rodriguez quickly obliged. On a 1-1 count Finau drove the ball to the deepest part of center field for what can only be titled a walk-off win as this bumped the game score to 13-3, mercy ruling the Cardinals in the fifth.
The Aggies now are 4-0 to begin the year. Their next game will take place Sunday morning against the Miners in a Valentine’s Day special of the Battle of I-10 at 10 a.m.