Aggies look to lock up WAC title

Aggies look to lock up WAC title
KTSM
New Mexico State
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 1:23pm

Aggies (26-16; 8-1) head out on the road this week to meet Grand Canyon for a doubleheader Friday, April 18, beginning at 6 p.m. and a single game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 19. NM State is sitting on a five-game winning streak and could clinch the regular-season WAC title by sweeping the series against the Lopes.

Live Coverage
Live Stats: www.NMStateSports.com (click on Audio/Video link)
Twitter: @NMStateAggies

Looking Ahead
NM State will take on Arizona midweek on Wednesday, April 23 and will continue to Orem, Utah to face the Utah Valley Wolverines on April 25 and 26. The Aggies pause WAC play for their series against the Arizona Wildcats, which can be heard on KSNM 570 AM beginning at 4:45 p.m. The Aggies then travel to take on third place Utah Valley who is currently sitting at 4-5 in WAC play.

Looking Back
The Aggies went 3-0 in their last home game series against CSU Bakersfield with the biggest scoring margin of 17-2 to finish off the weekend. The Aggies began with a double header on Friday, April 11, beating the Runners 7-5 the first game and 8-1 in the second. Lacey Rother went 3-for-3 and had two RBI to begin the series. In the second game, Rother brought in three RBI and was intentionally walked being the first time an Aggie has been intentionally walked since 2011. During the final game of the series, the Aggies scored 17 runs in the first inning going through the lineup almost three full times before handing the inning off to the Runners. The forced run-rule in the third game on the weekend marks the fourth consecutive weekend that the Aggies have closed a game due to a run-rule.

About the Aggies
NM State moved to 26-16 on the season after going 3-0 on the weekend against CSU Baskersfield at the NM State Softball Complex to end the at home games. The Aggies finished the weekend with a 17-3 victory in the final game on Saturday, April 12. The team is led at the plate by junior Staci Rodriguez with a .422 batting average and 12 homeruns. She is tied in the top 10 for home runs this season with fellow hard hitter Fiana Finau. The duo combines for 69 RBI this year. Rodriguez is 18th in the nation with a .810 slugging percentage and Finau is slugging .740 so far this year, which keeps her in the top 40. Right fielder Lacey Rother, has reach base in her last 18 at-bats and has seen eight games with multiple hits just under Finau who has seen 15.

In the circle, senior Celisha Walker leads the Aggies with a 3.30 ERA this season. The team is hurling 3.62 combined with redshirt Karysta Donisthorpe pitching 91.1 of the teams innings. She is leading the Aggies with 79 K’s this season and is holding her opponents to a .263 batting average. Walker has become the closer for the team, pitching 87.0 innings and striking out 51. She has tallied three saves and one shutout this year.

Aggies in the WAC
Leading the conference the highest record percentage at .619 this season, NM State is leading in a large majority of the hitting categories this season including batting average as the Aggies are hitting .326. The team has 569 total bases and is slugging .522 as a whole, which leads the league. The Aggies also have the best team ERA (3.62) but are just behind GCU in fielding percentage (.946). The Aggies surpassed the Lopes in hits however with 355 on the year.

Individually, the Aggies are seeing Staci Rodriguez lead in a slew of categories, including batting average (.422) and runs scored (45). Rodriguez is tied with fellow hitter Fiana Finau at 12 homeruns and just trails Finau in RBI (37). Finau is second on several of the hitting lists that Rodriguez leads. Right fielder Lacey Rother is now set at first with her .549 on base percentage after her performance in the series against CSU Bakersfield. Senior Celisha Walker is second in the WAC with her 3.30 ERA followed by sophomore Makayla McAdams ranked third at a 3.38 ERA.

Around the WAC
With a conference record of (8-1), the New Mexico State Aggies are the leaders of the WAC. NM State holds the best overall record in the conference with 26 wins and 16 losses on the season. After crushing Bakersfield by a score of 17-2 on April 12, the Aggies now hold the longest active win streak in the conference at five games.

Grand Canyon is also having a stellar season with an overall record of 22-17 and a conference record of 7-2. The Antelopes are second place in the WAC. GCU and the Aggies are the only two teams in the league with overall records above .500.

Utah Valley and Seattle are tied for third place in the conference with each squad having a record of 4-5 in the WAC. Utah Valley has struggled to find their footing in front of their home crowd as they have won only once this season while suffering seven losses at home. Seattle has done the opposite, with only three wins on the road and 10 losses. Kansas City has had a tough season along with Bakersfield. Kansas City is fifth in the conference with an overall record of 13-30 and a conference record of 3-6. Bakersfield is dead last in the WAC with an overall record of 11-34 and a 1-8 record in conference play. The Runners are also on a five-game losing streak.

NM State in the Nation (as of 4/15/14)
Hitting duo Fiana Finau and Staci Rodriguez have made their way onto the nation’s leaderboard in five different categories this season. The pair is top 25 in homeruns both ranked at 24th in the nation. Rodriguez is top 75 for batting average (61st), runs per game (14th) and slugging percentage (18th). Lacey Rother has also moved into national ranks with her .419 batting average (54th) and .545 on base percentage (11th).

As a team, the Aggies are sitting in the top 50 in more than three categories. They are currently ranked 14th nationally in home runs per game out of 289 ranked teams. NM State is also 13th in the nation with its .522 slugging percentage. The Aggies .326 batting average places them as 14th in the ranks.

About Grand Canyon
22-17 overall, Grand Canyon is 7-2 in WAC play with their only two loses coming against UM Kansas City (Mar. 29, 4-2) and Bakersfield (Apr. 5, 5-4). Grand canyon has outscored opponents 206-168 this season, relying on their ability to generate runs through single base hits despite their lack of homerun power.

Grand Canyon is led from the circle by Stephani Pesqueira who has a 2.86 ERA in 127.1 innings pitched, with an 11-7 record. Recording 65 strikeouts, Pesqueira has given up 128 hits, 38 walks and 52 earned runs.

From the plate Kayla Henry leads the team with a .341 average, recording a team high 43 hits. Kelsey Barak leads the team in RBIs with 33 and homeruns with six. Batting a .326 average on the season, Barak has recorded 43 hits in her 132 appearances at the plate.

In the field, the Wildcats have only recorded five errors in WAC play, compared to their opponents’ 17. Grand Canyon also holds a near perfect fielding percentage of .981.

Series History
NM State and GCU have never met in the 39-year program history.
 

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