Aggies top Lehigh in tournament finale, 9-5

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The New Mexico State softball team closed the ASU Invitational with a contest against Lehigh at Farrington Stadium on Sunday. The Aggies took down the Mountain Hawks to close out the tournament. Kelsey Horton broke the NM State record for career total bases in the 9-5 victory.

NM State (10-11) got off to a hot start with a two-out single by Nikki Butler. Kelsey Horton followed the junior with a home run to left field, giving the squad the 2-0 advantage.

In the top of the second, Lehigh (6-6) started its at bat with a single to left field and looked to stretch it to a double. Brandy Hernandez had other ideas, sending the ball to Casie Roberto at second for the first out of the frame. Starting pitcher Samaria Diaz had trouble with the following batter, giving up a home run, cutting the team’s lead in half.

New Mexico State posted a scoreless third despite a double by Victoria Castro during the team’s at bat. In the bottom of the inning, head coach Kathy Rodolph went to Chloe Rivas in the circle. The freshman allowed a two-out walk but threw a scoreless frame.

During the next at bat for the Crimson and White, Kayla Bowen extended the NM State lead with a solo home run over the centerfield fence. The momentum carried into the following frame when a walk and an error put a pair of runners on base. Castro nailed a double down the left field line, bringing the runners home, putting the squad ahead by four.

With the Aggies holding the 5-1 advantage, Rivas struggled in the fifth when she allowed a pair of singles with one out recorded. The third single of the inning scored a run for the Mountain Hawks, cutting into the NM State lead. Rodolph brought in Kayla Green to contain the opposition and the senior forced the Lehigh batters to ground out, ending the inning.

Green struggled in the following frame, allowing a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs. The back-to-back singles by the Mountain Hawks scored three runs, tying the game 5-5.

Looking to rally, Castro began the seventh with a leadoff single and Butler was hit by a pitch, putting a pair of runners on without an out recorded. Horton’s second home run of the day put the team on top and Bowen went long in the following at-bat, giving the team the 9-5 lead.

Needing just three outs, Green came back to the circle for the Aggies, but the senior hit the first batter she faced and Rodolph went to Diaz again to finish the game. The junior struckout the first batter she faced and a double play from Mya Felder to Horton at first base gave New Mexico State the 9-5 victory.

Diaz went 3.0 innings in the start, allowing one run on two hits with four strikeouts. Rivas pitched 2.1 innings with one run on five hits with a single strikeout. Green picked up the win, going 1.2 innings and allowing three runs on four hits.

With the eight total bases in the game, Horton passed Hoku Nohara as the Aggies leader in total bases. The senior had 452 following the weekend. Horton also sits in second all-time for career home runs with 62.

For their next contests, the Aggies head to Lubbock, Texas, for a doubleheader at Rocky Johnson Field against No. 15 Texas Tech. First pitch from the games on March 13 is set for 3 p.m. MT.

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