PORTALES — At 5-foot-4, Laura Thompson doesn’t exactly look like the home run type.
She put a charge into one on Sunday, though, and all but clinched a Lone Star Conference South Division series victory for the Eastern New Mexico University softball team.
With runners at first and second and one out, the native of England by way of Vernon (Texas) College capped a four-run fourth with her second home run of the season, giving the Zias a 6-1 lead en route to a 10-2 victory over West Texas A&M at Zia Softball Field.
ENMU (22-26, 2-10 South) thus took the series 2-1 after coming into the weekend winless in division play.
Sophomore Kristen Cruickshank (10-10) surrendered an opposite-field triple to WT’s Amber Farr to start the contest, but not much else. She finished with a four-hitter in a game called in the bottom of the sixth on the eight-run rule.
Thompson, the Zias’ leadoff hitter, batted in the fourth in a situation where one might anticipate a sacrifice.
“Laura led her (junior college) conference in home runs last year,” ENMU coach Amber Daniel noted. “She can hit the ball as far as anybody.”
Thompson acknowledged she wasn’t thinking about a home run.
“I was just hitting away,” she said of her line-drive shot over the left field fence. “Thankfully, I just caught the ball right, and it went (out).”
It took most of the suspense out of the contest. The Zias ended the game with three in the sixth, capped by Rebecca Quinones’ two-run double.
Quinones and Thompson both finished 2-for-4, while catcher Michelle Anderson hit a pair of RBI singles.
While it’s probably too late to make a run at a conference tournament berth, the Zias are just looking to finish strong.
“Our defense was pretty good today; it wasn’t (in Saturday’s doubleheader split), which was a little unusual,” Daniel said. “We’re just fighting to get better each day. We just have to play it game-by-game now, and out-by-out, really.”
The Zias’ pitching has been solid most of the spring, but they’ve struggled to score at times.
“That’s been a little bit of a problem this year,” said Thompson, third on the team with a .352 batting average. “We’re just focusing on making contact with the ball.”
ENMU improved to 12-2 all-time against the third-year Lady Buffs (20-29, 5-10), who are coached by former Zias coach Kevin Blaskowski.