TEMPE, Ariz. – The first few innings proved to be a battle, but the New Mexico softball team fell behind slowly, suffering a 9-0 season-opener loss to No. 7 ranked Arizona State at Farrington Stadium on Thursday evening, the first day of the Kajikawa Classic tournament.
“Our team fought hard the first three innings,” said head coach Erica Beach. “We brought great energy to the game and saw some really positive things out of this team. We still have work to do, but I think we can take a lot of things from this game to make us better.”
After a scoreless first inning by both teams, the nationally ranked Sun Devils put some timely hits together to score a run in the second and third innings. But, their bats didn’t really come alive until the fourth inning, scoring seven runs off two home runs by Cheyenness Coyle, which featured a grand slam.
Once the Sun Devils got to starter Carrie Sheehan, Tess McPherson came into the circle, but walked in a run and gave up a bases-loaded hit to put the Sun Devils across the plate, capping the scoring for the game and forcing the mercy rule on the Lobos.
Through the Lobos lineup in the five innings played, four hits were put through the gaps of Arizona State’s defense. With one out in the second inning, Naomi Tellez started the Lobo offense with a hard-hit single to left field. She advanced to second on a fielder’s choice by Sjostrand, but the inning was cut after Mia Hignojos grounded out to the pitcher.
New Mexico put together another close offensive inning in the third, but still could not come up with a run on the board. With one out, Gabrielle Stacey drew a walk and advanced on Mariah Rimmer’s single to right field. Chelsea Anaya advanced the runners up a base with a hard single to the shortstop.
The Lobos were looking for a comeback in the fifth to resist from the mercy rule. Brandi Heimburg singled to left field to start the inning, but three Lobos after that went back to the dugout.
Tellez and Heimburg each went 1-for-2 while Rimmer and Anaya went 1-for-3. In 3.2 innings, Sheehan struck out one and walked one, while giving up 10 hits and eight runs. McPherson walked two and gave up one run and one hit. Sheehan suffered the loss and dropped her record to 0-1.
Arizona State’s Mackenzie Popescue collected the victory in the circle, striking out three and holding the Lobos to just four hits.
The Lobos continue their non-conference action in the Kajikawa Classic tomorrow with games against No. 24 ranked California at 3 p.m. and Northwestern at 8 p.m.