Eastern New Mexico University’s struggling softball team had a chance to upend Texas Woman’s on Saturday at Zia Softball Field.
It was a matter of how long the Zias could hold off the Pioneers.
ENMU broke down in the seventh, committing two errors to help TWU break a tie with six runs
for a 12-6 Lone Star Conference victory and a sweep of the three-game series.
Unlike Friday’s doubleheader, in which ENMU managed only one run, the Zias (6-24, 1-11 LSC) were able to put some offense together and give themselves a chance. Still, they went down to their 11th consecutive league loss and 14th in 15 games overall.
“It was a great ballgame,” said Zias coach Lauren Sigwing, who started seven freshmen on Saturday. “We finally started hitting the ball again. We’ve been pressing really bad, just trying too hard.”
Freshmen Lizzy Velasquez and senior Josette Aguirre belted first-inning home runs off unbeaten TWU ace Katie Hines, the latter a three-run shot, to stake the Zias to a 4-1 lead. But each time they scored, the Pioneers (26-7, 9-2) countered with runs in the next inning.
Hines, who is 13-0, didn’t make it through the third, but reliever Larisa Garcia (8-5) pitched 3 1/3 effective innings in relief to get the win.
“Katie just got a little tired,” Pioneers coach Richie Bruister said. “They made some good adjustments against her, but Larisa came in and kept the game close until our bats had a chance to come alive.”
TWU, which has combined 114 stolen bases with 35 home runs, pounded out 16 hits in the game. Still, the Zias’ defense helped the Pioneers out with five errors, leading to five unearned runs.
“In this league, you’ve got to limit the errors,” Bruister said. “When you give our offense (extra outs), it’s going to be tough.
“Our offense is unique. We’ve got one of the fastest teams in the country and we put pressure on defenses.”
Shortstop Bailey Vrazel had three infield hits in five at-bats, scoring each time, and stole three bases to go 49-for-49 for the season. Left fielder Addison Staley and catcher Tiffany Weise, the only seniors on the team, were both 2-for-4 and combined for seven RBIs while No. 7 hitter Sarah Wittenburg went 3-for-4.
Center fielder Lizzy Kelly, batting ninth, tied the score 5-5 with a leadoff home run in the third.
“That’s a real momentum-getter when the No. 9 hitter hits one over the scoreboard,” Bruister said.
ENMU finished with 10 hits, led by freshman catcher Aurelia Sandoval with 3-for-4.
“We’re capable of hitting the ball like that,” Sigwing said. “We just got into a team slump, but hopefully we’re finding our way out of it.”