LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO (KTSM) – Kathy Rodolph called it one of the most special championship seasons of her coaching career, and it’s hard to argue with her.
The New Mexico State softball team spent the first five weeks of the season training and playing games in Florida due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Land of Enchantment. They played their first 31 games away from home, and still, they won their fifth WAC regular season championship in the last six years on Saturday.
“If you saw us opening weekend against Seattle and someone said that we would win the regular season title, a lot of folks would’ve said, ‘I don’t know about that,'” said Rodolph. “The fight and determination of this team has been unmatched by most teams I’ve coached.”
NMSU (29-19, 14-4 WAC) began conference play 1-3, but went 13-1 the rest of the way to clinch the championship. 18 members of the Aggies’ roster are either freshmen, or redshirt freshmen; catcher Nikki Butler is the team’s only senior.
They had every opportunity to throw in the towel, but they simply didn’t. Now, they’ll be the 1-seed in the WAC Tournament this weekend in Seattle, and if NMSU wins the tournament, they’ll punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018.
“Punching a ticket to postseason would be ideal,” said Butler. “It’s a good time to peak, and a good time to feel ourselves and be able to groove and mesh together. We’re ready.”
The Aggies open the conference tournament against 4-seed Utah Valley on Thursday at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN+