NMSU softball reaches WAC title game again
The New Mexico State softball team continued its run at the 2018 Western Athletic Conference tournament at the NM State Softball Complex with a contest against sixth-seeded UMKC on Friday. The Aggies took down the Roos 14-3 to advance to their sixth-straight championship game.
"Offensively, the team attacked the situation and did their job," head coach Kathy Rodolph said. "Analise and Kayla did a phenomenal job in the circle and I think we played pretty clean on defense. We're excited to advance to another championship on Saturday, whoever we're going to play. There is going to be another team in the other dugout and we're going to come out and play."
NM State (28-22, 11-4 WAC) got off to a slow start when starting pitcher Kayla Green allowed a leadoff triple and a single up the middle to Kansas City (15-40, 2-13) to put New Mexico State behind 1-0 in the first.
After a scoreless second by both squads, the Aggies rallied in the third, beginning with Rachel Rodriguez reaching on a walk. She advanced to second on a flyout and the senior followed by stealing third with Fahren Glackin at the plate. Glackin hit a ground ball to the shortstop but an error by UMKC allowed the senior to reach and Rodriguez to score, tying the game. Nikki Butler continued the rally for New Mexico State with a single to left field and Glackin came home on the play, giving the Aggies the 2-1 advantage.
The bats cooled down for both teams as each squad posted a scoreless fourth but back-to-back singles by Rodriguez and Kelsey Horton started the fifth for New Mexico State. Glackin followed with a single of her own and despite Horton being out on the play, Rodriguez scored, adding to the NM State lead. Butler kept the rally going with a two-run blast over the left-field fence to give the Aggies the 5-1 advantage. Amy Bergeson followed the long ball with a single and Kennedy Johnson drove the senior home with a double to left center for the final run of the team's at-bat.
Leading the Roos 6-1, New Mexico State hit trouble when Green allowed a leadoff double to UMKC. A pair of groundouts scored the runner and a solo homer by Sydney Garcia put the Roos behind 6-3. Rodolph brought in Analise De La Roca to contain the Kansas City rally and the freshman struck out a batter to end the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Caity Szczesny drew a leadoff walk and Rodriguez followed by hitting into a fielder's choice. After a fly out allowed the senior to advance to second, Glackin came to the plate and the NM State first baseman hit a ground ball but an error but the Kansas City first baseman allowed another run to come home. Butler followed the senior with her second two-run homer of the game to give the Aggies the 9-3 lead.
The NM State bats stayed hot in the seventh, beginning with Bergeson and Johnson hitting a single and a double, respectively, to start the inning. A double down the left field line by Jeanelle Medina brought the pair home, giving the Aggies the 11-3 advantage. Szczesny followed with a double of her own, scoring Medina. Rodriguez drew her second walk of the game in the next Aggie at-bat and a fielder's choice by Horton scored the fourth run of the inning. A double by Glackin brought in the final runs of the game and the Aggies secured the 14-3 victory and their spot in the WAC Championship game.
Green picked up the victory, moving the junior to 14-8 on the season. She pitched 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on six hits and struck out three batters. De La Roca pitched 2.1 innings in relief and allowed just two hits while striking out three batters.
NM State takes on the winner of the 10th game in the WAC Tournament in the championship contest on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. The winner of the tournament clinches the WAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.