PORTALES — One big swing pretty much did in Eastern New Mexico University’s softball team in the opener of Tuesday’s non-conference doubleheader against Oklahoma Panhandle State.
The Zias, though, quickly turned the tables to earn a split.
Pitcher Samantha Arledge keyed a six-run fifth with a grand slam that lifted the Aggies to an 8-2 win in the opener. The Zias answered with an eight-run first in the nightcap and cruised to a 12-2 win, shortened to 4 1/2 innings by the eight-run rule.
ENMU (12-31) improved to 45-9 all-time against OPSU (9-31), although the Zias lost for just the third time in 23 meetings at Zia Field in the series. The Game 1 loss snapped an 18-game home winning streak against OPSU, dating to Feb. 20, 1999.
Each team scored single runs in the first and third innings of the opener, but the Aggies sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth to take control.
Three walks loaded the bases with one out, and the lead run scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Salina Galindo on which no one was retired. Arledge followed with her ninth home to center field on the first pitch from freshman Cailin Garmon (5-16), and the Aggies added another run on Lilli Ward’s RBI single.
Arledge (8-14) finished with a seven-hitter, walking one and striking out five. Only one of the runs against her was earned.
Sophomore Kyra Sirag went 3-for-3 for the Zias.
In the second game, junior Shelby Ripple belted a two-run double in the first and kicked off ENMU’s four-run third with her fourth homer, on an 0-2 pitch from Taylor Richardson (0-6). The first inning featured seven Zias hits and three OPSU errors.
Amanda Martinez, Audrey Velasquez and Beatriz Caporal all had two hits for the Zias.
Sophomore Mary Jo Granger (6-6) tossed a five-inning four-hitter, with both runs against her unearned. She walked none and struck out three.
ENMU returns to Lone Star Conference play on Saturday when it hosts a 1 p.m. doubleheader against top-ranked West Texas A&M.