ENMU shortstop Jessica Nocas took a pitch off the batting helmet during the second game of Friday's doubleheader against West Texas A&M at Zia Softball Field. (Freedom Newspapers: Jesse Wolfersberger)
PORTALES — Apparently, Kelsey Kubik’s teammates weren’t that impressed when her second-inning line drive skimmed the right-center field fence at Zia Softball Field and fell over for a three-run homer.
“They told me to hit (the ball) harder the next time, so I did,” the Eastern New Mexico University junior said Friday.
She obliged them in the sixth inning of Friday’s Lone Star Conference South Division softball opener against West Texas A&M, lacing a drive off the windshield of an ENMU van parked behind the left field fence to cap the scoring in the Zias’ 14-7 victory.
In the nightcap, ENMU (22-12, 4-2 South) got two homers from Elizabeth Whipkey and another from Tina Whitt to back senior right-hander Rosemary Moreno’s four-hitter in an 8-0 win. The teams finish the series with a noon doubleheader today.
“I was in a slump, but I broke out of it,” said Kubik, who came to ENMU at the semester and hadn’t played softball since 2004 at Pima Community College in Arizona.
She went 3-for-3 in the opener with five RBIs, adding an run-scoring single in the third, as the Zias passed their win total from all of last season (20-29). ENMU’s five home runs raised its LSC-leading season total to 38.
“That’s the way the year’s been going,” ENMU coach Armando Quiroz said. “They just crank the ball.
“I’ve never been on a team where we bunt the ball so little, but this team doesn’t have to. They’re an amazing group.”
WT coach Kevin Blaskowski, who coached ENMU in 2004, said his youth-laden first-year squad is simply up against it.
“Our roster’s depleted and we’re just giving up too many runs,” he said. “We’re missing six starters (to injury, illness and suspension) and it makes it tough to play.
“We’re very talented; we’ll be good in time. It’s not our goal to win the (South) this year. Our goal is to build a program and get it done right.”
The Lady Buffs (10-28, 1-9) chased Zias first-game starter Amanda Nightingale with three runs in the first inning, and regained leads of 5-4 and 7-6 later in the game. But ENMU kept scoring, and senior Natasha Lindsey (6-4) went 6 1/3 innings in relief for the win.
Leading 8-7, the Zias put the game away with a five-run fifth capped by Whitt’s two-run single.
“The girls always play with confidence; it’s a great quality to have,” Quiroz said. “I never see panic in their eyes.”
Whitt broke up a scoreless tie in the third inning of game 2 with a two-out, three-run homer, her team-leading ninth of the season, just inside the foul pole in left. The other runs scored on Whipkey’s blasts — a three-run homer in the fourth and a game-ending, two-run shot in the sixth, both also with two out.
Moreno (11-5) pitched in her fifth shutout of the season, including her third in division play. The Lady Buffs ran themselves out of a scoring chance in the fifth, and Moreno got a pair of strikeouts to work out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the sixth.
She said the wind, which was blowing out, didn’t bother her.
“When we (pitchers) come out here, the first thing we look at is the flag,” said Moreno, who walked two and struck out six. “When the wind is blowing out, my ‘spinners’ are working real well.”
Whipkey led a 10-hit attack with 3-for-4, while Whitt and senior second baseman Tracy Jordan were both 2-for-3.