Misplayed pop fly gives Zias win over Kingsville

Zia catcher Tina Whitt tags out Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Kristen Healy at home plate in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Texas A&M-Kingsville softball coach Jake Schumann wasn’t particularly happy with a split on Friday.

Eastern New Mexico University head coach Amber Daniel thought her team might have been too satisfied with it.
The Zias, who came in 0-7 in Lone Star Conference South Division one-run games, finally got one to go their way in the opener at Zia Softball Field when Kingsville shortstop Kenna Gibson lost Elizabeth Whipkey’s pop fly in the sun for what turned into a game-winning RBI single in a 3-2, eight-inning verdict.

ENMU battled the Javelinas scoreless until the sixth in the second game before losing 4-1.

Saturday’s games didn’t go as well for the Zias as Kingsville notched 12-2 and 12-8 victories to take the series.
Daniel hoped Friday’s first-game win would carry over, but said her team lacks the drive to finish the job.

“We didn’t deserve to win the second game; we didn’t come to play,” Daniel said. “A lot of games we’ve deserved to win and we’ve lost, but not that game.”

Kingsville, battling with Tarleton State for the South’s third and final berth in the LSC postseason tournament, got solid pitching from Jennifer Demay in the opener and Tori Johnson in the second game against the Zias, who came in leading the LSC in team batting average at .329. But it wasn’t until late that the Javs broke through on offense.

After ENMU’s Rosemary Moreno (3-9) retired 14 of the first 15 hitters in Friday’s nightcap, the Javelinas strung together nine hits in the final 2 1/3 innings — highlighted by Amber Nevels’ two-out, two-run homer to cap a three-run sixth.

“We needed to sweep today,” Schumann said. “But (Eastern is) a scrappy team. Their record doesn’t show it, but they’re a good team.”

In Friday’s opener, ENMU’s Natasha Lindsey and Demay hooked up in a pitcher’s duel. Whipkey’s first homer of the season gave the Zias a 1-0 lead in the second before Kingsville loaded the bases on three singles and got a tying sacrifice fly from Julia Canales.

That turned into an inning-ending double play when Whipkey cut the throw home and got the Javs’ Lorina Melvin in a rundown.

“I’m just happy that happened,” Whipkey said of her game-winning hit. “It was a frustrating game, because it was so up and down.”

Texas A&M-Kingsville 12-12, ENMU 2-8 (Saturday) — Nevels went 7-for-8 in the doubleheader for the Javs (30-26, 11-9 South), including 4-for-4 with a pair of homers in the second game.

Kingsville pounded out 18 hits off ENMU’s Patricia Gonzales in the opener, shortened to five innings by the eight-run rule. The Javs broke open the game with a six-run fourth for a 10-1 lead.

Trailing 3-1, Nevels’ leadoff homer sparked an eight-run fourth that put Kingsville in firm control in the nightcap.

ENMU (18-29, 3-17) collected 13 hits in the contest, including home runs by Adriana Reyes and Whipkey.