Two different games, one a pitcher’s duel and the other an offensive showdown, ended the same way, with New Mexico State sweeping a doubleheader from Seattle University, 2-0 and 9-7, Saturday evening in Western Athletic Conference softball action at the New Mexico State Softball Complex.
With New Mexico State down 7-3 with one out into the bottom of the seventh, Amber Olive started the rally by drawing a walk, and Kristi Covarrubia notched her fourth hit of the game with a bunt single. Staci Rodriguez, by far the leading home run hitter in the conference, hit her second three-run home run of the game to bring the Aggies within one at 7-6.
A single by Kelsey Dodd brought Mandie Sugita (Rossmoor, Calif.) out of the Redhawk bullpen, but Sugita was greeted by Malena Padilla with a single to left field, advancing the game-tying run into scoring position. Teresa Conrad ended the game with a three-run home run.
Game two of the twinbill did not start well for the Redhawks, as Olive led off the first inning with a single, Covarrubia reached on a bunt single, and Rodriguez hit her first three-run home run of the night to put the Aggies on top. Jessica Ulrich (Lewiston, Idaho) settled down after allowing a one-out single, inducing an inning-ending double play to keep Seattle U within striking distance.
After the first two batters were retired in the top of the second inning, Jenny Hurst (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) laced a single up the middle, and Becca Cable (Tacoma, Wash.) earned a bunt single to keep the Redhawks alive. Senior Allegra Wilde (Kennewick, Wash.) tied the game with a three-run home run, and after Isabella Geronimo (San Mateo, Calif.) reached on an infield single, Erin Crowley (Kent, Wash.) hit a two-run shot to put Seattle U ahead, 5-3.
In the bottom of the third inning, Covarrubia led off with an infield single, and Rodriguez drew a walk. Richelle Ashburn (Post Falls, Idaho) came on in relief of Ulrich and retired the next three Aggie batters in order to halt the New Mexico State scoring chance. Ashburn found herself in a similar situation with one out in the fifth inning, as Covarrubia singled and Rodriguez walked, but the Redhawk hurler worker her way out of the jam by setting down the next two hitters.
Seattle U seemingly added some insurance late in the game, beginning in the sixth inning when Brianna Guerrero (Buena Park, Calif.) led off with a triple and scored on a single by Hurst. Bubba Morrow (Auburn, Wash.) hit her team-leading seventh home run of the season to lead off the seventh inning as the Redhawks accumulated 12 hits in the game after earning just eight hits combined in the first two games of the series.
In game one, New Mexico State (35-15, 16-2 WAC) broke through in the fifth inning, starting with a leadoff walk drawn by pinch hitter Lacey Rother and continuing with back-to-back bunt singles from Olive and Covarrubia to load the bases with nobody out. Sugita picked up a groundout and a strikeout, but Dodd came through with a single up the middle, driving in both Aggie runs.
That is all Aggie pitcher Alex Newman would need, as she allowed only two hits in pitching a complete game, striking out three batters. Sugita pitched well for most of her five-inning starting outing, but she ended up with the loss after giving up six hits, two walks, and two runs.
With the losses, the Redhawks fall into a four-way tie for third place in the league and need a combination of two wins or losses by UT Arlington next weekend to earn a spot in the six-team Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
Seattle University (20-28, 8-10 WAC) will play a non-conference doubleheader at sixth-ranked Oregon Wednesday, May 1, starting at 1 p.m. The Redhawks then welcome Louisiana Tech to Logan Field at Seattle University Park for the final WAC weekend series of the season, starting with a doubleheader Friday, May 3, at 3 p.m. and concluding with the Senior Day game Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m.