Aggies out-slug Seattle to win WAC Championship, lock up NCAA Regional
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (CBS4) – It was quite the Championship Saturday for New Mexico State softball. The Aggies defeated the Seattle U in walk off fashion, 15-14 before shutting out the Redhawks 10-0 to claim the Western Athletic Conference Championship. Victoria Castro, Samaria Diaz, Misty Hoohuli and Rachel Rodriguez earned All-Tournament honors with Rodriguez winning the coveted Most Valuable Player award.
NM State struck in the bottom of the first when the Aggies loaded the bases on back-to-back walks and a bunt single by Victoria Castro. With the bases loaded, Nikki Butler hit a grand slam to center field, scoring the first runs of the game.
Trailing 4-0, the Redhawks started a scoring rally of their own in the top of the second when Maddy Kristjanson hit a single down the left field line with two-runners on, cutting the Aggies lead in half. Three more singles for the Redhawks scored three runs giving Seattle U a 6-4 lead
In the bottom of the second, a pair of singles put runners on for NM State with no outs. Kelsey Horton hit into a fielder's choice putting runners on the corners for Fahren Glackin. She hit a single to left field, bringing the Aggies within one. After Castro walked, Butler hit into a fielder's choice and tied the game 6-6.
Kristjanson gave SU the lead in the third with a solo homerun over the center field fence. The Aggies followed with a scoring run in the bottom of the third, starting with a double by Haley Nakamura. A single by Rachel Rodriguez put runners on the corners. Pinch hitter Kennedy Johnson hit a single that scored two runs for NM State. After Horton walked, Glackin hit a three-run homer over the center field fence, giving the Aggies an 11-7 lead.
The bats came alive for the Redhawks in the top of the fourth when Savannah Loomis hit a double, driving in two runs for SU. Singles by Cherise Silvan and Jessica Flanagan brought in two more runs for Seattle U, tying the game 11-11.
After a scoreless fifth, the Redhawks took the lead in the sixth when Kayla Gonzales hit a three run homer to left field, giving Seattle U a 14-11 advantage.
SU pitched a scoreless sixth inning and NM State was down to its last three outs in the seventh. Back-to-back walks and a single by Castro loaded the bases in a hurry. Butler and Szczesny each hit singles, cutting the Redhawks lead down to one. Nakamura battled her way to a walk, tying the game 14-14. Rodriguez followed the senior by hitting a single up the middle for the 15-14 walk-off win.
NM State carried its momentum into the second championship game when they loaded the bases with no outs in the first. Caity Szczesny and Rachel Rodriguez hit a pair of singles which gave the Aggies an early 3-0 lead.
Despite the high scoring first game, the Redhawks and Aggies went back-and-forth in a pitcher's duel between Samaria Diaz and Andie Larkin. Each pitcher recorded a scoreless second inning, but in the bottom of the third, Diaz hit trouble when the Redhawks put two on with one out. Fahren Glackin relieved the freshman in the circle and the NM State defense stood strong behind her by recording the final two outs of the inning.
The pitching duel continued for both teams but it was in the sixth that the bats came alive for New Mexico State. The rally began when a walk and back-to-back singles for the NM State loaded the bases. Kennedy Johnson brought in a run when she battled in the batter's box and drew a walk. Singles by Kelsey Horton and Glackin scored a pair of runs for NM State, extending their lead to 6-0. Victoria Castro hit a sacrifice fly to left field, recording the first out of the inning while also scoring the runner from third. Nikki Butler and Jeanelle Medina hit a pair of doubles scoring the final three runs for the Aggies, extending their 10-0 lead.
Seattle U made the most of its final three outs in the sixth, hitting a pair of singles and drawing a walk to load the bases with one away. Glackin was able to take down the final two batters with some help from her defense and the Aggies shutout the Redhawks 10-0 to claim the championship title.
New Mexico State advances to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history. NM State will hold a selection show party in the clubhouse at the NM State Softball Complex on Sunday at 8 p.m. (MT).
Victoria Castro, NM State
Madison Cathcart, Seattle U
Samaria Diaz, NM State
Jessica Flanagan, Seattle U
Misty Hoohuli, NM State
Maddy Kristjanson, Seattle U
Jo Larios, CSU Bakersfield
Andie Larkins, Seattle U
Kendra Leach, UMKC
Maegan Rollow, UMKC
MVP: Rachel Rodriguez, NM State