STEVENS: Samantha Hughes' Walk-Off Grand Slam Hands UNM 10-7 Win over Utah
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/02/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 2, 2009

Box Score

Lobo Softball
Lobos 10, Utah 7
Friday-Saturday: Vs. BYU, 7 p.m. both days at Lobo Field
Online: GameTracker, live video on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The bases-loaded, bottom-of-the-seventh instructions from Lobo coach Ty Singleton to senior Samantha "Sammie" Hughes were simple enough. "I told her to take a breath and hit the middle of the ball," said Singleton.

Which is what Hughes did. She crushed the middle of the ball and it went a long ways. The rest of the ball went with the middle portion, over the left-center wall, and four runs danced across the plate Thursday night at Lobo Field in UNM's dramatic, come-from-behind 10-7 win over the Utah Utes.

"That ball was absolutely ripped," said Singleton of the grand slam dinger.

Said Hughes, the No. 2 hitter in the Mountain West Conference: "I was just thinking I wanted to hit the ball because I hadn't hit a ball all night. I definitely wanted to swing. I liked that pitch. I didn't think it was going out. I thought it might go to the wall, but ..."

But the savage line drive cleared the fence. Hughes' heroics were preceded by a Tianna George single, a Cristin Anderson single, and a high chopper by Jessica Lujan-Dresslar that the Utah third baseman mishandled for an error.

That loaded the bases for UNM's top hitter, who had strategically been moved by Singleton into the No. 3 spot because of Hughes' RBI potential. She brought in four runs for Singleton on one swing and one pitch. Hughes ended the game 1-of-2 with three walks, four RBIs and three runs scored. She also tied for the team lead in putouts with five from her spot in center field.

The win gives UNM a 1-0 mark in Mountain West play. The Lobos play host to Brigham Young Friday and Saturday at Lobo Field with both games slated for a 7 p.m. start.

"There were two teams out there looking at this (MWC play) as a new season," said Singleton. "Both teams played hard and with a lot of heart. I think both teams played with passion.

"It's been a rough stretch for us. We've played some good games and lost and that can test your confidence. But we were given a fresh start and we went out there with the attitude that we wanted to change what had been happening."

Said Hughes: "We do feel like we have a chance to start over and to come out with a win was huge. I don't think we've lost any confidence, but there probably was some discouragement. I think we are ready to go now."

The win bumped UNM to 10-23 overall. The Lobos also got multi-hit games against Utah from Anderson (3-of-5, 3 runs scored), Analise Rubalcava (3-of-3, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored), Katie Gilmore (2-of-3, 3 RBIs) and George (2-of-3, 1 run scored).

The Lobos had 13 hits and left 10 on base. Utah had 12 hits and stranded seven. Utah is 13-19 and 0-1 in MWC play.

Kerry Hodgins got the win in relief of Danielle Castro and Rubalcava. "It was nice to see all three pitchers contribute," said Singleton. "None of them were dominant, but they all did something to help their team."

The Utes jumped on the scorebord first with two runs in the top of the second. UNM cut the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of that inning when Shaunte Duarte doubled in Rubalcava.

UNM took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Rubalcava singled in Anderson and Gilmore singled in Hughes. The Lobos pushed their lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Rubalcava singled in Anderson for the second time.

The Utes went up 7-4 in the sixth, but UNM slipped closer at 7-6 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. The two Lobo runs were plated off a Gilmore single that scored Rubalcava and Hughes.

Utah didn't score in the top of the seventh and Hughes ended things with her blast in the bottom of the final inning.

"I think we came out with some nerves," said Singleton. "But we settled down and started hitting the ball hard." UNM scored runs in five of the final six innings.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous GoLobo.com articles can be found on The Richard Stevens Corner.