By Derek Gonzales
The defending WAC Champion New Mexico State softball team has come back after an 11-day break to string together three straight wins to open up conference play. NM State won both games of the Saturday doubleheader by scores of 2-0 and 5-0 at the New Mexico State softball complex after winning Friday’s series opener, 12-0.
NM State (23-16) leaned on the superb pitching of senior Karysta Donisthorpe in the first game against Seattle (14-22), as she was able to throw a complete game shutout, only allowing three hits. She earned her seventh win of the year, and lowered her ERA to 2.83 in the process.
“It was a great feeling to get that (good defensive play) from everybody, and it was nice to see everybody come out and do their job,” says Donisthorpe. “Coach has really worked with us this past week on three-pitch sequences, and it helped us out a lot. It (The 11-day break) helped us focus on little details, and it helped us get everything back on track.”
Offensively, NM State generated both runs in the second inning, when catcher Tatum Reedy (1 for 2) was able to get a single off of Redhawk starting pitcher Andie Larkins with two outs. Reedy then advanced to second on a passed ball, and freshman Victoria Castro (1 for 2 with an RBI) brought her home with a triple into the left-center field gap. Infielder Amy Bergeson (1 for 2 with an RBI) then grounded a single passed the third baseman, scoring Castro.
That’s all Donisthorpe would need in her start, as the Farmington, New Mexico native got herself in only one jam, with that being in the sixth inning. Runners were able to reach second and third with two outs, but Donisthorpe forced Redhawk infielder Rose Saenz to line out to left field to end the scoring threat.
Freshman Kayla Green started in the circle for NM State in the series finale, and she continued her outstanding season with another quality start, in which she went five innings, allowing no runs and three hits after dealing with the flu the past couple of days. She improved her record to 6-2 on the year and helped the Aggies improve to 13-0 all-time against the Redhawks.
“We’ve spent a lot of practice time to try and come up with easier ways to get in a rhythm in the circle, and the flow of the game seems a lot easier,” says head coach Kathy Rodolph. “To throw three consecutive shut-outs is something that we weren’t able to do last year, and I think that shows where our mindset is as a team, because it’s one thing to get ahead and win, but it’s another to hold strong when runners are in scoring position. I was really proud of us for doing that.”
Aggie RBI leader Fiana Finau (3 for 3) began the scoring in the bottom of the first when she brought in freshman Kelsey Horton (2 for 3 including two-run home runs) for her 37th RBI, via a groundball single that squeezed passed the second baseman to center-field.
Both starting pitchers settled in after that point, as Seattle starter Alyssa Reuble and Green didn’t allow another run until the bottom of the fourth inning where NM State tacked on a couple more runs. Finau started the rally off with a lead-off single, and Reedy (1 for 3) followed suit with a single to right-center, and Finau advanced to third and Reedy advanced to second on the throw. Castro was able to produce a sacrifice fly to bring home Finau and advance Reedy to third, where a Nue Sivia sacrifice fly scored Reedy to bring the NM State lead to 3-0.
The following inning, Horton got ahold of a Reuble pitch and sent it over the left-field wall for a two-run home-run, her 11th on the year to increase the Aggie lead to 5-0.
Senior pitcher Makayla McAdams came on in the top of the sixth to relieve Green, and was able to keep the Redhawks scoreless through two innings of work as she finished off the conference opening sweep for the Aggies.
NM State outscored Seattle 19-0 in the three-game series and only allowed 10 hits in a dominant conference opening weekend. Looking ahead, NM State heads to Tucson this Wednesday to face the Arizona Wildcats in a mid-week doubleheader. The next time the Aggies play at the NM State softball complex will be April 22-23 as they face Cal-State Bakersfield in the final home series of the year.
Derek Gonzales can be reached at email@example.com
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