By Derek Gonzales
The New Mexico State softball team appears to have found their groove as they inch closer to defending their WAC Championship in Seattle, Washington, in the 2016 WAC Softball Tournament in two weeks. They completed the sweep of Cal-State Bakersfield, winning both games of the doubleheader 12-1 and 4-2 Saturday afternoon at the New Mexico State softball complex.
The first game saw senior Karysta Donisthorpe take the mound for the Aggies. In her last start of her career at the New Mexico State softball complex, she was outstanding. She went all five innings in the run-ruled game, striking out four and giving up only one run.
“It was amazing. The fact that hitters were putting up runs was a great feeling,” says Donisthorpe, who capped off her illustrious four-year career with her ninth win of the year.
NM State (32-19, 11-1 WAC) jumped out to an early lead when Kelsey Horton hit a three-run home-run to push the Aggies out to a 3-0 lead. It was her team-leading 14th home run of the year. NM State as a team is first in the conference in home-runs, batting average, scoring, slugging percentage, and triples. A prolific offense is a Coach Kathy Rodolph staple, as she has put together powerful offenses in her 12 seasons in Las Cruces, and this year’s squad has been no different.
After scoring another run in the bottom of the second to extend to 4-0, CSUB (13-30, 5-7 WAC) scored a run in the top of the third inning with a Chris Hipa single that forced two Aggie errors and led to Alex Simmons scoring on the play. With the score 4-1, the Aggie offense exploded in the bottom half of the inning.
Tatum Reedy began the inning with a three-run home run of her own off of CSUB pitcher Alyssa Stockton to put the score at 7-1. It was her eighth of the season. That was only the beginning of the scoring for the inning. Emma Adams hit a double three batters later and it scored Rodriguez and Brennalyn Nakamura to extend the lead to 9-1.
Pinch-hitter Kennedy Johnson smashed a three-run homer later in the inning that scored Fiana Finau and Adams. That capped off an eight-run inning for the Aggies and put them in control of the game and Donisthorpe coasted from that point forward. The win gave coach Rodolph her 400th victory at New Mexico State.
“To be able to capture my 400th win here at home on senior weekend makes it all that much more special,” says Rodolph. “I remember that first season here (when NM State went 14-49) like it was yesterday, and we’ve come a long way with phenomenal young ladies that believed in the vision we had here. Without phenomenal kids, we wouldn’t have been able to turn this around.”
Senior Makayla McAdams (13-8) started at pitcher for the Aggies in the second game, and followed Donisthorpe’s solid performance with one of her own. She allowed one run and three hits on 53 pitches.
“When we started this season, we graduated roughly 60 home-runs, so we knew that the most experienced piece of our team was our pitching, and they needed to anchor down while our offense was getting their feet under them, and they’ve done just that,” says Rodolph.
Victoria Castro (1 for 4, RBI) tripled in the home half of the second inning that brought in pitch-runner Jovanni Felix to score. Nakamura (1 for 3, run scored) then hit a rare bunt double and Castro reached third on the play. Castro then scored on a wild pitch that advanced Nakamura to third, and Amy Bergeson (0 for 2, RBI) brought in Nakamura on a groundout a few pitches later to put the score at 3-0 through two innings. CSUB answered in the next half inning with a run on a Julea Cavazos single up the middle that scored Kaylynn Burt.
Freshman pitcher Kayla Green came on in a relief appearance for the second day in a row, and did a great job, despite getting herself in trouble in the top of the seventh inning trying to close the game. She allowed a two-out triple to Burt that scored Jo Larios for the ‘Runners, and with Burt on third and the tying run at the plate, Rodolph brought in Donisthorpe to try to get the one-out save and did just that to cap off the 4-2 win.
Saturday marked the last time seniors Fiana Finau, Tatum Reedy, Makayla McAdams, Karysta Donisthorpe, Brennalyn Nakamura, and Emma Adams took the field at the New Mexico State softball complex. Looking ahead, NM State will face UMKC in a three-game series next weekend in Kansas City and travel to Albuquerque to face the University of New Mexico on May 3.
Derek Gonzales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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