Senior pitcher Alex Newman and the New Mexico State Aggies worked their way to a 7-1 win over I-10 rival UTEP after allowing just one run across the plate on the Tuesday evening game at the NM State Softball Complex. The Aggies move to 4-1 on the season with four straight wins before heading into the Aggie hosted Troy Cox Invitational Feb. 15-17.
Newman worked the seven complete innings in the circle for NM State and threw four strikeouts without allowing a base on balls. She moves to 3-1 on the season and sinks her ERA to 0.79. With the work of the Aggie defense behind Newman, UTEP was able to escape with just five hits and one unearned run.
“Alex threw really well for us tonight,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “I thought about trying out one of our other pitchers, but she was relaxed in there and did a great job. She was able to finish it out for us.”
NM State started things off with a bunt for a base hit from senior Amber Olive, who came up for two stolen bases early in the opening inning. A single up to third by Kristi Covarrubia to follow Olive set the stage for sophomore Staci Rodriguez to come to the plate with two on and two outs. Rodriguez smacked her third homerun of the season with a soaring shot over the center field fence for three RBI.
The Aggies put the Miners away in order in the first two innings, bringing up sophomore Lacey Rother for a single up the third base line before junior Alyssa Ruiz came to the plate in the bottom of the second to bring herself and Rother around the bases with a two RBI homerun and give the Aggies a 5-0 lead after one and a half innings played.
The Miners came back in their half of the second to get a runner on base off an error in right field. A miscalculated throw moved the freshman Kawehi Natane into scoring position for the Miners and brought up senior Kayla Black two drove in the only UTEP run with a shot to the shortstop that went down as a fielder’s choice.
The Aggies kept the Miners quite for the remainder of the innings, but Rodriguez came up in the home half of the third for an RBI single back to the right-field wall. The sophomore finished the day with one run on two hits and four RBI.
With the Aggies well ahead going into the bottom of the fourth, Ruiz and Olive walked their way on base before Covarrubia struck out to bring up sophomore Kelsey Dodd. She hit a sacrifice fly out to center field to bring in Ruiz and move NM State ahead for a 7-1 win.
“I think there are some things we need to work on still,” Rodolph said. “If we were exactly where we wanted to be this early in the season, I think we’d peak too soon and we want to ride this out until the end. We have a Western Athletic Conference title in our sights.”
NM State claimed the first win in the three-game rivalry series, but the teams meet two more times at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 23 and 24 to close out the 2013 series.
Next up for NM State is the Troy Cox Invitational that will include Texas Tech, Colorado State, Penn State and UMKC. First pitch for the Aggies is Friday, Feb, 15 at 4 p.m.