ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – The University of New Mexico softball team was ahead 8-6 heading into the top of the seventh inning but San Diego State came back with five runs to claim an 11-9 win over the Lobos in the conference opener on Friday at the Lobo Softball Field.
The Lobos needed just three outs to make the noise that head coach Erica Beach was looking to make in conference this season. Relief pitcher Lisa Rodrigues struck out the first batter of the top of the seventh but a single and two walks loaded the bases for SDSU. Rodrigues walked the next batter and SDSU closed on the Lobos 8-7.
Lauren Soles, who started the game for the Lobos, came back into the game and forced SDSU to fly out for the second out. A pass ball on the next play plated another SDSU runner and tied the game at 8-8. Three more runs came across and the Lobos saw their 8-6 lead turn into an 11-8 deficit in SDSU’s favor.
The Lobos pushed one across with two outs. Michala Erickson reached on an error by the third baseman and scored on Brandi Heimburg’s triple down the left field line. But that run wasn’t enough to make a comeback.
After beating New Mexico State on Wednesday, the Lobos brought in a lot of confidence into the conference opener and Beach was looking to make some noise in conference play. The Lobos definitely started off making noise in conference and did not go down easy to the Aztecs. In fact, the Lobos were on the scoreboard first, their seventh game where they have plated a runner first on the board. And they plated eight runs off this season’s two time Mountain West Pitcher of the Week, Danielle O’Toole.
“I’m very proud with how our offense played and how we put up eight runs against their best pitcher,” said Beach. “That is a good statement to make. We walked 14 batters so we need the offense and defense to stay confident and we need our pitching to throw a great game tomorrow.”
SDSU took a 3-2 lead in the third, but in the bottom of the inning, the Lobos fought back, plating two more runs to take a 4-3 lead. Chelsea Anaya drew a lead-off walk and Tellez was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Casados hit a two RBI double down the left field line to score Anaya and Tellez.
The Aztecs put up a run in the fourth and fifth to take a 5-4 lead but once again the Lobos were right there with them as Casados blasted the first pitch over the left field wall. SDSU put up one more in the sixth and the Lobos answered with three off a Tellez double down the left field line that plated Gabrielle Stacey, Heimburg and Erickson.
The eight runs that O’Toole allowed were all earned runs and is the most she has recorded this season. O’Toole did collect the win in the circle, improving her record to 17-3 on the season. She tallied six strikeouts.
Soles took the loss for UNM. In 3.2 innings, she allowed five runs off six hits while striking out three and walking nine. Carrie Sheehan was the first relief pitcher, coming in and throwing two innings and allowing a run off three hits. Rodrigues pitched 1.1 innings and allowed five runs off three hits with one strikeout and four walks.
At the plate, the Lobos pounded out 10 hits with Heimburg hitting perfect with a 4-for-4 effort, scoring a run and tallying an RBI. Casados was next best, going 2-for-4 with a homerun and a double for three RBIs.
The Lobos drop to 9-19 on the season and 0-1 in Mountain West play. SDSU improves to 23-8 and 1-0 in the MW. The two will play game two tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Lobo Softball Field.