The New Mexico Softball team started their season off at the New Mexico State Classic in Las Cruces this weekend, playing three games over two days and recording a 2-1 record to start the season.
Victories over UTEP and Creighton were followed by a one-run defeat to the Aggies on Saturday afternoon.
The tournament began against UTEP on Friday in a game that saw the debut of Wichita State transfer Bailey Klitzke in the circle. Klitzke pitched five innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits, walking seven and striking out eight in the Lobos 16-5 victory over the Miners. The nine run margin was the Lobos largest margin of victory in season opener since a 2011 victory over Utah Valley.
These two teams also met last season, with that one going in favor of UTEP by an 8-0 margin.
"It was nice to get our first win on opening day," head coach Paula Congleton said in a release. "We did a lot of good things, mainly nine hits and 15 RBI."
The Lobos shared the scoring, with five different players driving in multiple runs. Monica Salas and Klitzke, who served as the Lobos designated player in addition to pitching, shared the team lead with four RBIs each. Cameryn O’Grady, Lauren Wilmert and Maggie Buckholz also recorded multiple RBIs.
Andrea Howard joined O’Grady and Wilmert in scoring three times. She walked three times and recorded one hit.
In the first of the two games for the Lobos on Saturday, UNM recorded a run rule victory over Creighton, winning 8-0 in five innings. The Bluejays were picked to finish first in the Big East in the preseason coaches poll.
Camryn O’Grady and D’Andra DeFlora lead the offense for the Lobos, combining to drive in seven of the eight total runs for UNM. O’Grady finished the game with a team high four RBI and was a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with a two-run homerun.
Transfer Kianna Spencer made her debut for the Lobos in the circle and pitched a complete game, giving up three hits, walking five and striking out two but kept the shutout intact.
In the final game of the weekend, the Lobos took on their in-state rivals in a close affair that ultimately went the way of the hosts in a 9-8 decision. Freshman Kennedy Ferguson was given the start, and pitched four innings, giving up four runs, three hits and striking out three.
UNM took a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth behind a three-run home run from Howard, but Klitzke, who was brought in an attempt to closeout the game, gave up a leadoff walk and then a home run to Kelsey Horton to give NMSU a 8-7 lead. That ended the day for Klitzke, who was charged with the loss, and Spencer was brought in limit the damage, but she gave up another run before getting out of the inning.
O’Grady hit a leadoff bomb in the bottom half of the seventh to cut the deficit back to one, but the Lobos were unable to get anything going behind her, stranding Klitzke, who walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
The Lobos return to action with a single game on Thursday, Feb. 14 against Arizona before the start of the five game Hillenbrand Invitational on Friday in Tucson.