By Dave Wagner
Getting to play at home for the first time more than six weeks wasn’t enough to help Eastern New Mexico University’s softball team Friday.
The Zias hung tough through a near-four-hour marathon in the opener before losing to Lone Star Conference South Division pre-season favorite Angelo State 9-8 on catcher Julia Monsivais’ two-run homer in the top of the 11th. The Zias went down meekly 10-2 in the second game, called after five because of the eight-run rule.
Angelo State completed a four-game weekend sweep by thumping the Zias 6-0 and 11-1 in Saturday’s doubleheader.
It was Eastern’s first appearance at Zia Softball Field since losing a season-opening twin bill to Colorado State-Pueblo on Feb. 4, but first-year Zias coach Kevin Blaskowski wasn’t in the mood to hear any “almost” about Friday’s marathon first game.
“Being at home or on the road doesn’t matter that much,” he said. “Sometimes it’s nice to play on the road because it’s easier to stay focused.
“I’m really disappointed with our effort in the second game. Good teams come back from (tough losses).”
ENMU (9-19, 0-4 South) rallied twice in extra innings to keep the first game going — including four runs in the bottom of the eighth. But the Zias left the potential winning run in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and 10th innings.
ASU senior pitcher Claudia Lopez struck out 15 of the 31 batters she faced in the opener, but couldn’t get ENMU out in the eighth with a 6-2 lead. The Zias’ Stacy Gonzales bounced a two-run single up the middle off reliever Arin Spence to tie the game.
Monsivais hit her second home run of the season in the 11th off Maegan Rhoten, and the Rambelles (20-5, 4-0 South) held on for the win.
“It was a heck of a way to open Lone Star Conference (South) play,” first-year ASU coach Travis Scott said. “You’ve got to give Eastern New Mexico credit for that first game.”
Lopez (9-3) returned to the circle in the nightcap and pitched four strong innings. She gave up a two-run double to the Zias’ Cassandra Gonzales in the fourth.
Meantime, the Rambelles got home runs from Lori Hernandez, Cat Moreno and Jessica Stroud.
ENMU sophomore second baseman Tracy Jordan went 5-for-7 for the day, driving in three runs with three hits in the opener.
Rhoten tied the first game 2-2 in the fifth with her second home run of the season, a drive off the scoreboard in left-center field.
In Saturday’s opener, Spence (10-2) pitched a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Left fielder Stacy Broman led ASU’s nine-hit attack with a double and a triple. Left fielder Dani Flores had two of Eastern’s hits.
ENMU took a 1-0 lead in the nightcap on Cassandra Gonzales’ first-inning RBI single, but managed only one hit the rest of the way — another single by Gonzales — in a game called after five because of the eight-run rule.