by Michael Rowse
The Western New Mexico University softball team broke out in a big way Saturday, as the offense accounted for 20 runs in leading the Lady Mustangs to a sweep of Academy of Art (7-6) and St. Cloud State (13-6) at day two of the Desert Stinger.
In the first game, Western New Mexico University (WNMU) tallied their first win of the season with some late heroics. Academy of Art (AOA) took the early 3-0 lead with three in the bottom of the first. WNMU came back with two in the second, as Mariah McDonald (Silver City/Silver City High School) started the run with a walk. Samantha Munoz (Peoria, AZ/Centennial) singled and after Alicia Enriquez (Gilbert, AZ/Mesquite) walked, the bases were loaded with just one out. After a pop out marked the second out, Aimee Vasquez (Ruidoso, NM/Ruidoso High School) came through with a clutch two-run single to center to plate both Munoz and McDonald and bring WNMU within one, 3-2.
The Lady Mustangs tied the game at three in the top of the third, as Ricki Gentry (Lakeside, CA/Christian High School) singled to open the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Krystal Castillo (Silver City, NM/Silver City) later came in to run for Gentry and she would score on a Breanna Diaz (Las Cruces, NM/Mayfield) single to left.
AOA regained the lead with a pair in the fifth, but WNMU wasn't about to go away. They fought back to tie the game at five with two of their own in the sixth.
With one out, Vasquez, Kale Gahn (Phoenix, AZ/Pinnacle High School) and Gentry all walked to load the bases. Mary Othon (Tucson, AZ/Desert View High School) followed by reaching on an error that scored Vasquez. Later, Tessa Fanning (Cottonwood, AZ/Mingus Union) walked with the bases still loaded to tie the game at five through six innings.
WNMU looked set to take the game in the seventh, as they scored the go-ahead run when Gahn doubled home Stephanie Higgins (Escondido, CA/Mission Hills High School) who reached on an error. AOA had other plans, scoring the tying run in the bottom half and they tried to win the game when a throw home from Munoz at third to Othon stopped the winning run.
With the game knotted at six and in extra innings, the Lady Mustangs fed off the momentum. Playing with the extra inning tournament rule that places the runner that made the last out from the previous inning at second, WNMU went with a sacrifice bunt from Diaz to move Othon to third. She would score on a double by McDonald to give WNMU a 7-6 advantage.
Domi Shone (Gold Canyon, AZ/Mesquite) then shut the door on AOA in the home half, getting a strikeout, lineout and groundout to give WNMU their first win of the season. WNMU posted 10 hits in all, with Vasquez and Diaz recording two apiece. Vasquez led in RBI with two.
Three Lady Mustangs saw time in the circle, with Shone ending up the winner going three innings, giving up just one earned run. BreAnna Eaker (Ramona, CA/James Madison) also tossed four solid innings, giving up two runs, one earned.
WNMU made it a clean sweep Saturday with a convincing 13-6 win over St. Cloud State. WNMU would score in every inning, as they pounded out 15 hits.
Gahn started the scoring in the first, as she drilled a two-run homer to center that scored Vasquez for the 2-0 lead.
After St. Cloud State (SCS) scored a run in the first, WNMU used the long ball in the second to score two more, with Othon and Shone going back-to-back for a 4-1 advantage.
Gahn continued her power display, as she opened the third with a solo shot to left. Later in the frame, Othon singled to right that scored Gentry as she singled earlier in the inning to extend the lead to five, 6-1.
SCS would post a run in the third, but again the Lady Mustang offense wasn't to be denied. Gahn doubled to right-center to score Higgins who led off the inning with a walk. Fanning tallied another run with a sacrifice fly to score Vasquez and to top the inning off, McDonald singled through the left side to plate Gahn for a 9-2 lead through four.
In the fifth, Gahn came through with another RBI on a fielder's choice groundout with the bases loaded that scored Diaz, as she pinch-ran for Shone that opened the inning with a walk.
WNMU would post one more in the sixth on Othon's second solo home run of the game and in the seventh, two more runs would come across thanks to another home run, but this time by Fanning who hit a two-run dinger to also score Gahn for the 13-6 lead.
WNMU finished with six home runs in all, with Othon and Gahn each hitting two. Gahn and Othon led the hit parade posting three apiece. Nine Lady Mustangs had at least one hit in the contest. Gahn led the way in RBI with five.
Shone pitched all seven innings, giving up six runs, four earned.
WNMU will conclude the Desert Stinger Sunday with a single game against Minot State at 11:30 a.m.