By Dave Wagner
On Friday, the Eastern New Mexico University softball team ended a homefield drought of nearly 22 months.
Unfortunately, Western New Mexico didn’t give the Zias have much of a chance to enjoy their success.
ENMU ended a 16-game home losing streak dating to April 25, 2003 by sweeping New Mexico Highlands 3-2 and 8-3 on Friday as junior second baseman Tracy Jordan got the winning hit in both games.
On Saturday, though, Western scored all but five of its 25 runs with two outs and posted 10-2 and 15-3 wins at Zia Softball Field, snapping ENMU’s four-game winning streak under graduate assistant and acting head coach Amber Daniel.
ENMU (5-6) and WNMU (6-4) complete their four-game series with a noon doubleheader today.
The Mustangs, who reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight last year, scored four runs in the first inning of the opener after ENMU’s Patricia Gonzales (1-3) retired the first two hitters.
Western built its lead to 10-0 before a single by Tina Whitt and Tori Picazo’s two-run homer put the Zias on the board in the bottom of the third. The game was called after five innings because of the eight-run rule.
Trailing 4-0 in the second game, ENMU got to within a run in the fifth on a one-out single by Kristin MacRunnels, a double by Adina Taul, a squeeze bunt by Courtney McClasky, Adriana Reyes’ RBI double and a run-scoring single by Whitt.
Then, with two on and two out in the sixth, pinch-hitter Dani Barnes gave WNMU some breathing room with a two-run double past third off Rosemary Moreno (1-2) before Melissa Lundwell followed with an RBI double.
In the seventh, with two out and two on, the Mustangs scored eight unearned runs off the tiring Moreno with eight consecutive hits.
“They’re a good team, but I don’t think they’re any better than we are,” Daniel said. “But I still believe in our team. I’m not going to lose faith.”
WNMU freshman Molly Yetman (2-3) gave up 10 hits but benefited from the heavy run support. Coach Freddy Flores said the Mustangs have a solid nucleus from last year but have had to replace three regulars, including workhorse pitcher Angela Slaugh.
“It was good to see us swing the bats so well; we’ve struggled at the plate our first few games,” Flores said. “It allows our pitchers to settle in. We have a good enough core; we just need to develop our pitchers.”
ENMU-NMHU — Eastern’s last home win was over Texas A&M-Kingsville 6-4 in the second game of a 2003 doubleheader. The Zias lost twice to the Javelinas the next day, then suffered through an 0-14 home mark last season.
Jordan’s hits against Highlands, though, put an end to the long home losing streak. Her one-out single through the middle in the sixth scored Jessica Nocas from second to break a 2-2 tie in the opener, and she slammed an RBI double to center in the bottom of the seventh after Elizabeth Whipkey reached on a two-out error and took second on a passed ball.
Tina Whitt’s two-run homer in the third put the Zias in front in the opener and ENMU broke a scoreless tie with a four-run third in Game 2. But Highlands (1-5), which lost three of four in a series at WNMU last weekend, rallied back both times, tying the second game on a two-out, three-run homer to left-center by Pam Maestas in the fifth.
“The team just needed a hit,” Jordan said. “It comes down to executing.
“It shows our character. They came back and tied it up, but we didn’t give up.”
Moreno and junior Amanda Nightingale (3-0) earned complete-game wins.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Daniel said. “It’s an awesome feeling to see them come through like that. As a coach, it’s worth it to watch that happen.”
ENMU 3, New Mexico Highlands 2
Highlands 000 110 0 — 2 9 0
ENMU 002 001 x — 3 8 2
Kari Evans and Jamie Ruhland; Rosemary Moreno and Tina Whitt. W — Moreno (1-1). L — Evans (0-2). DP — Eastern New Mexico 1. LOB — New Mexico Highlands 8, Eastern New Mexico 8. 2B — New Mexico Highlands: Andrea Reyes. Eastern New Mexico: Jessica Nocas. HR — Eastern New Mexico: Tina Whitt (1). T — 1:47. A — 30.
ENMU 5, New Mexico Highlands 4
Highlands 000 130 0 — 4 4 2
ENMU 004 000 1 — 5 11 1
Lynette Hicks and Ruhland; Amanda Nightingale and Courtney McClasky. W — Nightingale (3-0). L — Hicks (1-2). LOB — New Mexico Highlands 4, Eastern New Mexico 9. 2B — Eastern New Mexico: McClasky, Nocas, Tracy Jordan. HR — New Mexico Highlands: Pam Maestas (2). T — 2:05. A — 30.
Western New Mexico 10, ENMU 2
WNMU 433 00 —10 15 1
ENMU 002 00 — 2 3 0
Megan Gross and Tiffany Devaurs; Patricia Gonzales, Natasha Lindsey (3) and Whitt. W — Gross (4-1). L — Gonzales (1-3). DP — Western New Mexico 2. LOB — Western New Mexico 11, Eastern New Mexico 3. 2B — Western New Mexico: Stephanie Kirkpatrick, Cassidi Caringi, Meredith Drahota, Shaunna York, Melissa Lundwell. Eastern New Mexico: Elizabeth Whipkey. 3B — Western New Mexico: Jessica Garcia. HR — Eastern New Mexico: Tori Picazo (1). T — 1:45. A — 50.
Western New Mexico 15, ENMU 3
WNMU 012 013 8 —15 18 1
ENMU 000 030 0 — 3 10 2
Molly Yetman and Devaurs; Moreno and Courtney McClasky. W — Yetman (2-3). L — Moreno (1-2). DP — Western New Mexico 1. LOB — Western New Mexico 5, Eastern New Mexico 6. 2B — Western New Mexico: Garcia 2, York 2, Dani Barnes, Lundwell. Eastern New Mexico: Adriana Reyes, Jordan, Adina Taul. HR — Western New Mexico: Kirkpatrick (1). T — 1:58. A — 63.