PORTALES — At long last, the Eastern New Mexico University softball team is on the board in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
Still, the Zias couldn’t sweep rival West Texas A&M on Saturday at Zia Softball Field. After ENMU won the opener 7-2 behind a six-hit pitching performance from sophomore Kristen Cruickshank, the Lady Buffs held off a late Zias rally for a 5-4 win in the nightcap.
The finale of the three-game series, postponed on Friday because of high winds, will be played at noon today.
Cruickshank (9-10) came within one out of her fifth shutout of the season in the opener, but WT (20-28, 5-9 South) broke through on singles by Breanna Adams and Kaitlyn Witte and a two-run double to left-center by Audrey Wallace.
The Zias (21-26, 1-10) built a 5-0 lead through three innings, getting a run-scoring single from Rebecca Quinones in the first, Cruickshank’s RBI single in a two-run second and an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by Anna Hershkowitz and Casandra McCommons’ sacrifice fly in the third off Andrea Renteria (7-12).
ENMU clubbed 11 hits, led by Quinones and Alex Mayo Otis with 3-for-4 outings.
The Zias struck first in the nightcap on a double by Quinones and a run-scoring single by McCommons in the second, but WT used two bunt singles and a dropped sacrifice fly by ENMU center fielder Laura Thompson to score three unearned runs off Nicole Dickson (5-4) in the third.
Designated player Erin Hartigan then deposited a two-run homer, her fourth of the season, over the left-center field fence in the fourth, and those runs proved crucial when the Zias mounted their comeback.
Mayo Otis singled and took third on Quinones’ double in the sixth, and Hershkowitz delivered a sacrifice fly. Then Thompson walked with two out and pinch-hitter Brittany Regalado belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
Mayo Otis followed with a single and Quinones walked, but WT’s Shannon O’Dea (9-11) got Hershkowitz on a grounder to third to get a complete-game win.
Mayo Otis and Quinones each finished five-hit days with a pair of knocks for the Zias. Junior left-hander Natalie Woodside worked three innings of shutout relief for ENMU, allowing one hit and striking out three.