ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico softball team used its final at-bats to close out the game on a walk-off hit from Brandi Heimburg to beat UNLV 11-10 in the first game of the series on Thursday afternoon at Lobo Softball Field.
The Lobos were down 10-7 heading into their final at-bats in the seventh inning. Jasmine Casados led off the inning with a solo shot over right center that cut the UNLV lead to 10-8, her seventh homer of the season. Jordan Sjostrand followed with a walk and was moved to third on a double to right center by Michala Erickson. With just one out, Willow Kalinen drove in two runs off a deep ball to left center for a triple. She then scored the winning run off Heimburg’s single to left.
The Rebels were on the board first in the second inning with two runs but the Lobos matched it in the bottom of the inning. Mariah Rimmer led off the inning with an infield single and stole second on the next pitch. Casados singled up the middle and moved Rimmer to third. Casados advanced to second on Sjostrand’s grounder to the infield. Rimmer and Casados scored on Mia Hignojos’ double to center field.
The Lobos were hot with their bats in the next inning after Carrie Sheehan kept the Rebels off balance in the top of the inning. UNM scored five runs off two doubles and a home run. Casados doubled to score Naomi Tellez and Shelbie Franc and Sjostrand doubled next to score Casados. The final two runs came off Michala Erickson’s homer to left field, her fourth on the season.
“We have a great offense from top to bottom,” said head coach Erica Beach. “We are hitting the ball really hard. If our pitching can just keep some runs off the board, we’re going to do really well.”
UNLV started to make its way back into the game with a run in the fourth inning and three runs in the fifth off Sheehan. Tess McPherson made an appearance and recorded the final out in the sixth. The Rebels started to get hits and runs off McPherson so Beach made the switch, going to Lauren Soles. Soles finished out the game and recorded the win in the circle, allowing one run off two hits while walking none. Soles improved her record to 5-5.
Despite the Lobo pitching staff giving up 10 runs, the crew did reduce their walks down to three for the game but all three of those scored. “We had improvement in the walk area,” said Beach. “That was big. We do realize that we do pay for those walks we give. We are getting better and that’s an improvement we have needed to make for quite a while. We did throw some good innings but we need to throw seven strong innings tomorrow.”
Both UNLV and UNM pounded out 15 hits. Casados and Kalinen led the team with three hits apiece. Heimburg, Hignojos and Erickson all had two hits. Casados recorded three RBIs.
UNM improves to 13-27 on the season and 4-9 in the Mountain West conference. UNLV drops to 17-24 on the season and 7-6 in the MW. The Lobos will try and break their streak of just winning the first game tomorrow at 3 p.m. for the second game of the series.
“For us, we’ve been winning the first game and then struggling in the second game, so we really need to have the same focus coming out tomorrow. I’m excited to see what we can do tomorrow.”
“Any day you win is a good day,” said Beach. “We just need to learn how to sustain the confidence and sustain the performance. We need improvement on the mound and we need to make sure to keep runners off the bases and we’ll do much better.”