The New Mexico State softball team faced some stiff competition at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California. The Aggies played a total of five games from Feb. 21–24 against No. 17 Oregon, North Carolina, California, Missouri and Ohio State.
To open the tournament, the Aggies went up against the No. 17 Oregon Ducks. The Aggies and the Ducks were scoreless after the first two innings. Aggie starting pitcher Samaria Diaz allowed a couple runners on in the bottom of the third and then got replaced by Kayla Green. Green was able to limit the damage to one run.
The Aggies entered the fourth inning down one run and got their first two batters on base in the top of the fourth. The Aggies tied the game at one run apiece on a wild pitch that scored Mya Felder. The Aggies allowed one run in each of the next two innings and could not rally in their final at-bats. They dropped their first game of the tournament 3-1.
The Aggies’ next game was against the North Carolina Tar Heels, a team that received votes in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. The Aggies came out of the gate strong. They scored in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead when Kelsey Horton scored on a Tar Heel error.
The Aggies would lose their lead after they allowed one run in each of the following two innings to trail 2-1 after the third inning. The game would remain a pitching duel until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Aggie bats came alive for five runs. The Aggies had a 6-2 lead heading into the final inning of play. Annalise De La Roca pitched a complete game and earned the win as she didn’t allow the Tar Heels to make a late push. The Aggies defeated North Carolina 6-2.
The Aggies then went up against the California Golden Bears. Samaria Diaz started the game in the circle for the Aggies and held the Bears to zero runs in the first inning, but the deadlock was broken up in the third inning as the Bears were able to get a run and take a 1-0 lead.
The Aggies answered in their next at-bats scoring a pair of runs to take the lead 2-1 after the fourth inning. New Mexico State was able to get some insurance runs in the sixth inning as they headed into the final inning up by three.
The Aggies had a few errors in the bottom half of the seventh inning to allow the Bears to tie the game at four and extend the game into extra innings. Each team scored one run in the eighth inning to extend the game even further.
Samaria Diaz remained in the circle for the Aggies for the entire game, with the exception of one batter in the seventh inning. The game lasted ten innings, but the Aggies prevailed by a final score of 6-5.
Following the game against the Bears, the Aggies went up against the Missouri Tigers. The Aggies may have had tired legs as the Tigers overpowered them 15-0, scoring all their runs in the third inning.
The final game of the tournament for the Aggies was against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Aggies gave up a first-inning home run to fall behind 1-0. A couple scoreless innings followed before the Aggies ran into some trouble in the top of the fourth and allowed the Buckeyes to score three more runs and gain a four-run lead heading into the fifth inning.
The Aggies allowed one more run to come across the plate in the fifth. New Mexico State tried to make a late comeback. The Aggies scored one run in the final inning, but couldn’t produce anything else and were defeated in their final game of the tournament, 5-1.
The Aggies have over a week off before they are back in action for a doubleheader against the University of Arizona on Tuesday, March 5, at the New Mexico State Softball Complex. The first game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.