Zias drop two games in tourney

AMARILLO — The Eastern New Mexico University softball team got solid pitching but its offense was held in check Friday as the Zias dropped two games in pool play of West Texas A&M’s Lady Buff Classic.

Nebraska-Kearney, playing its season opener, got a fifth-inning home run from third baseman Cassie Keck and shutout pitching from senior right-hander Amanda Bell in a 1-0 victory over ENMU. Then Lone Star Conference North Division member Southeastern Oklahoma scored early and held on for a 3-1 win over the Zias.

ENMU (11-8) will play twice in the Bronze Bracket today to finish out the event. The Zias face defending NAIA champion Oklahoma City University at noon (MST), then play either the winner or loser of a game between New Mexico Highlands and Oklahoma Panhandle State at 2 p.m. (MST).

Keck’s home run was the only extra base hit for either team in Friday’s first contest. Six Zias had one single each against Bell, who walked one and struck out three.

Junior left-hander Natalie Woodside (5-3), who came into Friday with an earned run average of 1.86, did nothing to hurt that. She allowed only four hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.

Southeastern (12-3) jumped on sophomore Kristen Cruickshank (4-3) for two runs in the first and one in the second. The Zias got their lone run in the third on a one-out single by Laura Thompson, a stolen base, and junior Alex Mayo Otis’ run-scoring single up the middle.

ENMU managed only two more baserunners — a one-out double by Jessica Pacheco in the fifth and a one-out triple by Mayo Otis in the sixth, chasing starter Jami McAdoo (5-2). Reliever Marjorie Johnson got Michelle Anderson on a popup, then struck out Cruickshank looking to end the sixth and fanned the side in the seventh to earn a save.

Cruickshank, who had a 1.86 ERA when the day started, scattered 10 hits, including eight singles. Southeastern center fielder Rachel Lynn went 3-for-3, hitting a leadoff single to start a two-run first and then adding a two-out single in the second to drive in pinch-runner Brittanie Swift with the Savage Storm’s final run in the second.