The New Mexico State softball team plays its final regular season series at home against Western Athletic Conference (WAC) foe Utah State beginning with game one at 6 p.m. MT Friday at NM State Softball Complex. The teams will conclude the series with a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday; NM State will honor its five seniors in a ceremony after play later that evening.
NM State (20-27, 1-14 WAC) and Utah State (16-31, 3-12) both enter this weekend seeking victories to stay alive and qualify for the 2012 WAC Softball Tournament held in Las Cruces May 9-12.
In order to qualify for the tourney, NM State needs to win each of its final six games of the regular season including three road contests at San Jose State next weekend. The Crimson and White also need Louisiana Tech to lose each of its final six games at home to Nevada this weekend and on the road at Fresno State to end the regular season.
USU is also chasing LA Tech for the sixth and final spot in the tourney. The northern Aggies need to win at least four of their final six contests and need some losses from the Lady Techsters as well.
Game one of the series on Friday will be broadcast live on AggieVision with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski and analysis from Melanie Viramontes. Both games of the Saturday doubleheader can be heard via the Aggie Sports Radio Network on KSNM 570 AM with play-by-play from Doperalski. Aggie faithful can also receive updates via Twitter at the Aggies' official account, @NMStateAggies. A live stats link for each game is available at NMStateSports.com.
The series finale also marks the 800th career game for NM State head coach Kathy Rodolph and the final home game for the five Aggie seniors who will be honored in a ceremony. Those seniors include Brittany Clifton, Shaleese Javillo, Tiare Jennings, Kelsey Schueler and Sydney Williard. Entering the weekend, the class of 2012 is tied for the third-most wins in program history with a total of 124.
Last weekend NM State lost three close games at conference leader Fresno State. Meanwhile USU took one of three games at home against San Jose State last weekend. This week the northern Aggies split a mid-week, non-conference home-and-home series with Idaho State.
The Crimson and White have won six straight games in the series after sweeping Utah State on the road in 2011 and at home in 2010. In 2009, NM State won two of three from the northern Aggies. Utah State leads the all-time series 46-43. However, Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph is 17-3 all-time versus USU after a season sweep last year.
NM State is 11-8 at home this season. Utah State is just 2-15 in true road games this year.
Five active Aggies are hitting .300 or better coming into this week. They include Aggie junior Amber Olive (.381), freshman Briana Tovio-Asato (.325), freshman Malena Padilla (.314), senior Tiare Jennings (.312) and sophomore Valerie Swedberg (.307).
Two Aggies also hitting above .300 this year were lost five weeks ago to knee injuries. The pair includes sophomore Kristi Covarrubia (.357) and junior Tehani Kaaihue (.303).
Olive leads the team with 19 multi-hit games this season. She also ranks No. 31 nationally as toughest to strikeout in the latest NCAA rankings. Tovio-Asato has reached base safely in each of her last seven games to lead the squad. Swedberg leads NM State with nine home runs this season after hitting 13 during her freshman campaign.
Freshman Karysta Donisthorpe, sophomore Celisha Walker and junior Alex Newman lead the Aggies in the circle this year.
Donisthorpe has a 6-8 record with a 3.89 ERA this season in 14 starts and 29 appearances. She has allowed 58 earned runs in 104 innings of work and boasts a team-high 92 strikeouts.
Walker pitched brilliantly at Fresno State, throwing a three-hitter in a loss in the series opener. She carries a 5-4 record in 2012 with a 3.14 ERA. She claims seven starts and 21 appearances this season.
Newman is 9-14 this season with a 4.57 ERA. In 127 innings pitched she has surrendered 83 earned runs. Newman leads the team with 24 starts and 35 appearances in the circle this year.
Two USU batters are hitting .337 or better this season at the plate. Christine Thompsen averages a blistering .426 at the plate this year She leads the team with 58 hits, 27 runs scored and 82 total bases this year. Kelley Kaneshiro is batting .337 at the dish with 30n base hits. Hailey Froton and Kaneshiro share the USU lead with six homers this season.
USU uses three pitchers in the circle this season. Mandy Harmon claims most starts with 21 in 30 appearances. She has a 7-15 record and a 4.65 ERA. Shelbi Tyteca is 4-8 on the year with a team-best 4.53 ERA in 27 appearances and 14 starts in 2012. Dani Chaplin is 5-7 this season with a 5.97 ERA in 21 appearances and a dozen starts.
Click NMStateSports.com for all of the latest Aggie softball news this season.