ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In the bottom of the eighth inning, Jordan Sjostrand hit a walk-off ground rule double to right field to help the University of New Mexico softball team to an 11-9 victory over Fresno State on Friday at Lobo Softball Field.
“We knew we would be able to push that last run across,” said head coach Erica Beach. “But we just need time. Jordan coming through in the end with a big game-winning hit was huge for us.”
With one out in the eighth, Tellez singled down the left field line to start the spark for the Lobos. Karissa Haleman and Jasmine Casados both drew walks to load the bases before Sjostrand bounced the ball over the right field fence.
Both teams were hitting the ball well throughout the game but the Lobos started off hot with a five run inning that came off of two home runs in the first, off the Bulldogs ace pitcher, Jill Compton. Brandi Heimburg singled to third and Shelbie Franc reached on a fielder’s choice before Naomi Tellez blasted one over the right field fence, her fifth homer of the season. Mariah Rimmer was hit by a pitch on the next play and scored on Jasmine Casados homer to right field, her sixth homer of the season.
“Starting the game with a shutout inning and scoring a bunch of runs against their ace, that was a great boost of momentum for us,” said Beach.
Lisa Rodrigues held off the Bulldogs in the first and second but allowed one run in the third. She came back in the fourth and pitched her way out of a jam and relied on her defense with runners at second and third.
The Lobos put up three more runs in the third off another home run. This time, coming from, pinch hitter Tess McPherson, a three-RBI blast to left field for her first career home run in a Lobo uniform. The bomb scored Willow Kalinen, who singled on a bunt, and Franc, who singled to left field.
The Bulldogs got to Rodrigues as they scored three runs off her in the fifth. Carrie Sheehan came into the circle and allowed three more runs. But the Lobos’ offense responded with a run in the bottom of the inning off Franc’s RBI ground out to second that scored Mia Hignojos.
“They did a good job of fighting throughout the whole game,” Beach said. “Fresno State just kept putting pressure on and had a big inning. That was tough but we had fought through it and had some really key plays on defense.”
Fresno State put up two in the sixth before the Lobos went to Lauren Soles, who shut down the Bulldogs the rest of the way, striking out one and walking two to earn the victory in the circle and improve her record to 4-4.
“Lauren came in and shut them down to end the game,” said Beach. “That was big for us.”
The Lobos out hit Fresno State 14-12 with Kalinen going 2-for-2 with a run scored. Tellez and Casados each went 2-for-4 and Sjostrand went 2-for-5 with the two-RBI ground-rule, winning double.
“We had a lot of really great moments tonight,” said Beach. “For the future, we have to eliminate the big inning for them. We have to be able to shut the door when they start putting the pressure on. If we can do that, we’re going win a lot more games and do really well the last half of the season. I am really proud of our entire lineup.”
New Mexico improves to 11-23 on the season and 2-5 in the Mountain West. Fresno State drops to 19-13 on the season and 4-3 in MW action. The Lobos and the Bulldogs will play the second game of the three-game series tomorrow at the Lobo Softball Field with the first pitch at 1 p.m.