The Western New Mexico University softball team kept the offense going throughout the weekend against UT Permian Basin as they piled on 20 more runs to finish the series Saturday. The first game was a wild one that featured a walk-off win for the Falcons 14-13 and then they rode the momentum from the game one win into a 12-7 victory in the nightcap to take all four games against the Lady Mustangs.
The first game of the day counted as the third and final Lone Star Conference game of the series, while the fourth game was a non-conference contest.
Junior Ariana Maldonado continued her hot hitting as she extended her hitting streak to 13 games. She tallied four hits in the first game, including a home run and a double and then launched another homer in game two, while adding another double. Maldonado’s eight home runs on the season are the most since the 2015 campaign when Stephanie Higgins hit 12.
It was a first inning to remember for WNMU (4-35, 2-19 LSC) to start the day on Saturday as they plated six runs on five hits. After junior Tycee Coplan walked and stole second, Maldonado wasted no time getting her big day going when she cracked a two-run homer to center for the early 2-0 lead. Following two quick outs, three straight singles by freshman Grisdey Paredes-Alvarez, redshirt freshman Alicia Habitzreuther and redshirt sophomore Clarissa Moreno loaded the bases. Junior Yasmeen Gastelum then reached on a fielder’s choice error by the shortstop that brought in a pair of runs. Freshman Dominique Gonzales capped the frame with a two-run double to left for the 6-0 lead.
UTPB 16-27, 4-17 LSC) answered right back with three in the home half of the inning. After they added another in the second to get to within two, the Lady Mustangs went back to work on the offensive end in the third.
Habitzreuther was hit-by-pitch to open the frame and after an out, Gastelum singled and then a single by Gonzales scored Habitzreuther. Then on a ball put in play by Coplan, the second baseman misplayed it and allowed two runs to score to move WNMU out to a 9-4 lead.
Each time the Lady Mustangs tried to run away and hide with the lead, the Falcons came clawing back. In the bottom of the third, they scored four more runs to leave WNMU in front 9-8 after three.
Neither team scored in the fourth and after WNMU didn’t score in the fifth, UTPB tied it up with a run in the home half for a nine-all game after five.
Habitzreuther delivered a big shot in the sixth. With Coplan and Maldonado on via singles, an error by the shortstop loaded the bases. Two straight outs followed before Habitzreuther made the error come back to hurt the Falcons when she drilled the first pitch deep to center for a grand slam and a 13-9 lead.
The game was far from over when UTPB plated two in the sixth to get back to within two at 13-11. WNMU had a chance to add on in the seventh, but a fielder’s choice out and a fly out with the bases loaded ended the threat. Down to their last at-bat, UTPB came through with the clutch hit.
After pushing across a run on a double and fielding error in the outfield, a pair of outs had runners at second and third and WNMU ahead 13-12. Adrianna Berzoza got behind 0-2 and after taking a ball, she hit a double to left-center to bring in the tying and winning run to send the Falcons to a walk-off 14-13 victory.
UTPB outhit WNMU 17-14 as in addition to Maldonado’s big four-hit performance, Gonzales had three hits and Habitzreuther added two hits. Habitzreuther drove in four runs and Gonzales had three RBI. Lizzie Souza, Vanessa Alonzo and Aubree Avila all had three hits to pace the Falcons. Alonzo drove in three runs.
In the circle, sophomore Lyana Waddell started and went the first two innings and allowed five earned runs. Senior Aryana Gutierrez went the final 4.2 innings and ended up with the loss (0-3) as she allowed eight earned runs. Maritza Rojas started for UTPB and went the first two-thirds of the game and allowed six runs (two earned). Cindy Juarez went the final 6.1 innings to grab the win (5-6) in allowing seven runs (two earned).
Following the marathon opening game of the day, the teams turned around and nearly did the same thing in the nightcap.
This time, UTPB started strong as they scored four runs in the first inning. The long ball helped the Lady Mustangs get on the board in the second when Moreno and junior Carolyn Castillo hit back-to-back solo homers to leave UTPB with a 4-2 lead.
The Falcons moved back out to a 5-3 lead scoring a run off a triple and error in the second. In the third, WNMU came back to even the score. Coplan singled and then came home on a double to center by Maldonado. After senior Mariangela Garcia singled to put runners at the corners, Paredes-Alvarez walked to load the bases. Moreno hit a fly ball to left for a sacrifice fly and then Castillo tied the game at five when she doubled to left-center to score Garcia.
UTPB regained the lead scoring a run in the home half on an error for a 6-5 lead after three. In the fourth, WNMU jumped in front for the first time in the game. Gutierrez walked, stole second and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Coplan. She wouldn’t have to wait long to come home when Maldonado smashed her second homer of the day when it sailed over the left-center field fence to move WNMU out to a 7-6 lead.
It stayed that way into the fifth when UTPB scored six runs on seven hits to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish at 12-7.
UTPB held a 17-9 edge on hits with Maldonado, Garcia and Castillo tallying two hits apiece for WNMU. Maldonado drove in three more runs, while Castillo and Moreno added two apiece. Souza, Ashlynn Williams and Alonzo had three hits to lead UTPB. Souza, Williams, Jessica Gonzalez and April Arellano drove in two each.
In the circle, Gutierrez grinded it out for WNMU and went all six innings in allowing 11 earned runs to take the loss (0-4). Sloan Springfield started for UTPB and went the first three innings allowing five earned runs. Avila came on in relief to get the win (3-2) as she went the final four innings and allowed just two earned runs.
WNMU will return home this coming week when they will host nationally ranked Texas A&M-Commerce starting with a doubleheader on Friday at 1 p.m.