OREM, Utah – After opening the season with an 11-9 record through the non-conference slate, NM State began WAC play with a doubleheader against Utah Valley Friday afternoon in Orem, Utah. In game one, the Aggies led the majority of the way, but a pair of costly errors in the seventh inning led to a 5-4 defeat. In the second, NM State failed to produce much on offense, falling 9-2. Paige Knight led the way for the Aggies on offense, totaling three hits, three RBIs and a pair of home runs. Emily Dix (1-4) took the loss in both games, but was the most productive pitcher for NM State on the day, compiling eight strikeouts over 4.2 innings of work.
GAME ONE | NM State 4 Utah Valley 5
No stranger to two-baggers this season, Kendal Lunar decided to go the extra mile in her first at-bat of the game, blasting a ball out to left field for a solo home run, her second of the year to put NM State ahead 1-0 early. Kayla Bowen came aboard with a single, before scoring on a Utah Valley error when Hannah Lindsay came to the plate, making it a 2-0 ballgame heading into the bottom half of the frame.
Aydenne Brown got the starting nod for game one, promptly racking up three straight strikeouts to give the Aggies a clean frame and a two-run lead through one.
Following a leadoff walk by Jillian Taylor, Kendal Lunar recorded her second hit of the day – a single through the left side giving NM State a runner in scoring position. Three straight outs by the Crimson & White ended the scoring threat and sent it to the bottom half of the inning.
Utah Valley opened the bottom of the third with a walk, the runner advancing to second on a wild pitch and moving over to third as the Aggies recorded their first out of the inning. A hit by pitch put two on with one out, prompting Head Coach Kathy Rodolph to hand things over to Laurali Patane to try and protect the lead. A stolen base put Utah Valley baserunners on second and third with two outs, but Patane was able to collect herself and get the Wolverines swinging for the second out. Needing one strike to end the inning, Utah Valley’s first hit of the game turned into a two-run situation after a fielding error by NM State, tying things up at two apiece. Patane’s second strikeout of the inning put a pin in the Wolverines surge.
After witnessing Utah Valley tie up the game with one swing of the bat Paige Knight took it upon herself to return the favor, ripping one to left field for a leadoff home run – her fourth of the year and 11th as a member of NM State. Now leading 3-2, Kristen Boyd kept the offensive pressure on with a double to the left field wall, later advancing to third on a wild pitch. Jillian Taylor struck out swinging at the plate to end the top of the inning.
A pair of singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Wolverines with two outs, but Laurali Patane was able to force Utah Valley into a groundout to end the inning unscathed.
A pair of quick outs at the top of the inning put Riley Carley at the plate, who crushed her third home run of the season and the Aggies third solo shot of the afternoon to double the lead (4-2) and give NM State an insurance run heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Not going away easy, Utah Valley produced a stand-up double to put a runner in scoring position with one out. The next batter up singled to left field, deep enough that the Wolverines attempted a play at the plate, but the strong arm of Gabby Aragon got the ball to Kendal Lunar for the second out of the inning. Escaping the inning after a groundout, the Aggies kept their 4-2 lead heading into the sixth inning.
Utah Valley added a run in the sixth inning to make it a 4-3 ballgame, leaving the Aggie bats on final chance to add some insurance runs before the home half of the inning. Unfortunately, NM State was unable to do so, heading into the bottom of the seventh with a one-run lead and Emily Dix in the circle. Utah Valley put a runner on first after an error, followed by Dix’s third strikeout of the game. The next batter up hit a double to score the tying run. Two batters later, the Wolverines hit a walk-off single, completing the comeback and giving the Aggies a crushing 5-4 defeat.
Numbers to Note
- 3 – Three separate Aggies (Kendal Lunar, Paige Knight, Riley Carley) hit solo home runs; the fourth time this season NM State has hit at least three home runs in a game.
- 3 – NM State recorded three errors in the game, the most in a single Aggie softball game this season.
- 9 – All three NM State pitchers who appeared in the game (Aydenne Brown, Laurali Patane, Emily Dix) recorded three strikeouts; the nine total strikeouts are the third most by the Aggies this season.
GAME TWO | NM State 2 Utah Valley 9
Hoping to emulate their opening inning from game one, Kayla Bowen hit a double off the left field wall to give the Aggies a runner in scoring position with two outs. NM State was unable to convert and sent the game to the bottom half of the inning tied 0-0.
Emily Dix got the start in the circle after throwing the end of game number one, walking the first Utah Valley batter of the game. The number two hitter for the Wolverines followed with a two-run blast to left field, giving UVU a 2-0 lead early.
Kayla Bowen opened the sixth inning with a single – her second hit of the game and NM State’s fourth in game two. With one out and one runner on, Paige Knight stepped up to the plate, hungry for some action. Connecting on the first pitched she faced, Knight powered it out to left field for a two-run home run, her second of the day and fifth on the season. Turning it into a five-run game (7-2), Jillian Taylor drew a walk to keep up the Aggie’s offensive momentum. A pair of outs following ended the top half of the inning.
Numbers to Note
- 1 – Jersey number one Jessica Carreon recorded a single for her first hit since February 18th.
- 2 – Paige Knight recorded a two-run home run in the sixth inning, her second of the afternoon.
- 4 – NM State is 3-11 when producing four or fewer runs this season.
- 5 – Emily Dix recorded five strikeouts over three innings, tied for the most in an outing during her brief time at NM State.
- 6 – Kayla Bowen recorded a pair of hits, her sixth multi-hit game this season.
The NM State softball team will return to action tomorrow (Saturday, Mar. 18th) for the final game of their three-game series against Utah Valley. First pitch is scheduled for Noon (MDT). For updates and exclusive content throughout the season, follow the Aggies on Twitter (@NMStateSoftball), Instagram (@nmstatesoftball) and like us on Facebook (NM State Softball).