Softball murderer's row pounds New Mexico State
Junior Hallie Wilson smashes a four-run home run in the third inning as the Wildcats thrashed the New Mexico State Aggies 13-3 in the first game of a doubleheader at Hillenbrand Stadium on Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. So far, Arizona is 24-0 at home this season.
A mid-week home doubleheader proved to be exactly what the Arizona softball team needed after 10 days of rest. The Wildcats defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 13-3 in five innings in the first game and 13-7 in the second of the doubleheader at Hillenbrand Stadium.
“We came out today and saw the wind blowing out, so I knew it could be a high-scoring game, and it was,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “I was very pleased with the way we swung the bat.”
The two home wins extend Arizona’s undefeated home record to 24-0 and marked the last two nonconference games of the regular season.
Despite the continued explosive offensive performance from Arizona (36-9, 9-6), the story of the day was senior utility player Alex Lavine’s return from injury.
Lavine tore the ACL in her left knee on March 4 on a routine fly ball, and the team announced two days later she would be out for the season.
However, Lavine surprised the crowd at Hillenbrand Stadium and jump-started her teammates by suiting up for the doubleheader.
“Alex [Lavine] is such a leader on this team in every way possible,” junior utility player Hallie Wilson said. “Having her presence in the dugout and just having her in uniform is such a morale booster.
It’s so inspiring for the team, and we just really want to take it as far as we can for her.”
In game two of the doubleheader, the Wildcats jumped ahead of New Mexico State (26-21) in emphatic fashion. Combined with the return of Lavine, Arizona used nine first-inning runs to overpower the Aggies.
Leading the charge in the second game was the combined effort of the top half of the Arizona batting order. The first four Arizona hitters combined to hit .455 from the plate with one home run, five walks, six runs and six runs batted in.
This all against New Mexico State’s ace Karysta Donisthorpe, who entered the day with a respectable ERA of 4.03 and a team-leading 10 wins. Donisthorpe struggled mightily in her six innings of work and ended up allowing 13 runs on 11 hits.
To make matters worse for Donisthorpe, Arizona sophomore infielder Lauren Young added two home runs of her own.
“Our bats are hot this year, and it was great to see [the ball] fly,” Young said. “Compared to last year, we grew as a team … and everyone is stepping up.”
The first game of the doubleheader had several of the same storylines, as Arizona trailed early and used the long ball to pull ahead.
After a first-inning two-run home run by NMSU outfielder Staci Rodriguez, the Wildcats wasted no time cutting the lead in half as Wilson hit a lead-off home run in the bottom half of the first inning.
Shortly after that, the rest of the team decided to chip in, too.
Junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre and sophomore outfielder Courtney Rodriguez added home runs of their own. However, Wilson continued her recent hot streak by adding a grand slam in the third inning.
Against that offense combined with solid pitching, New Mexico State really struggled to string together hits. The bottom half of the NMSU batting order had only one hit for the entire game.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555