Highlands deals ENMU first softball loss

Feb. 6—LOS LUNAS — What was otherwise a dominating opening weekend for Eastern New Mexico University's softball squad came to an end on Sunday with a loss to an in-state rival.

New Mexico Highlands scored one for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, breaking open a tight game with a four-run seventh to hand the Greyhounds a 7-2 setback in the finale of a South Central Region crossover tournament. Both teams went 4-1 in the three-day event, hosted by Western New Mexico, which pitted Lone Star Conference teams against the RMAC.

ENMU outscored its five RMAC opponents 55-19.

"I believe (it) was a great start to build off of," third-year ENMU coach Amanda Fefel said. "We have a lot of pieces to our puzzle, and I look forward to seeing them fall into place at the right time this season."

After thumping Colorado State-Pueblo (15-8) and Colorado-Colorado Springs (11-3) on Friday, ENMU was even more dominant on Saturday with wins over Fort Lewis 8-0 and Adams State 19-1.

On Sunday, though, Cowgirls freshman right-hander Maya Milano (3-0) allowed only six hits and two unearned runs in her third complete-game outing of the weekend. ENMU pulled to 3-2 in the sixth when it loaded the bases with two outs and two runs scored on an error by the NMHU right fielder on a ball hit by junior first basemen Grace Roffi.

Sophomore righty Melissa Rodriguez (1-1) took the loss, working 4 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits.

Freshman shortstop Dioni Lincoln led Highlands' nine-hit attack, going 3-for 5 with a run-scoring double in the fourth and a two-run single in the seventh.

This weekend, the Hounds return to action with five more games against RMAC foes, including two each against Colorado Springs and Fort Lewis, in the West Texas A&M Invitational at Canyon.

In Saturday's contests:

ENMU 8, Fort Lewis 0 — Sophomore right-hander Jordan Skyler tossed four no-hit innings in a game shortened to five by the eight-run rule. The Skyhawks, who finished 2-3 in the event after stunning fourth-ranked West Texas A&M 5-2 on Sunday, got their only hit against the Hounds on junior catcher Stacia Raley's one-out single up the middle in the fifth off reliever Maggie Smith.

Senior catcher Alondra Vasquez and senior first baseman Taighen Whitzel both went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Vasquez hit a two-run single in the first and an RBI infield single during a four-run third, while Whitzel tripled home a run in the third and capped the scoring with a two-run single in the fourth.

ENMU 19, Adams State 1 — In another run-rule-shortened tilt, the Hounds scored at least two runs in all five turns at bat against the Grizzlies. Junior right-hander Emma Southerland worked four innings of three-hit ball for the win, allowing one run with two walks and four punchouts.

Meantime, Vasquez started the game at first base and hit a three-run double in ENMU's seven-run second. She was later replaced by Roffi, who went 2-for-2 and drove in five runs with a two-run double in the fourth and a three-run homer in the top of the fifth to cap the scoring.

Seven of ENMU's 11 hits in the match went for extra bases.

Whitzel was the only Hounds player to hit safely in all five games, finishing 10-for-15 and driving in 11 runs. Vasquez was 7-for-17 and knocked in 12 runs, while senior outfielder Aylene Lucero posted a 7-for-15 weekend while drawing five walks and a hit-by-pitch and scoring 13 runs.

Southerland emerged from the event 2-0 in three appearances in the circle.