CANYON, Texas — Sophomore Kristen Cruickshank threw what is believed to be the fourth no-hitter in Eastern New Mexico University softball history Saturday as the Zias blanked New Mexico Highlands 9-0 in the Bronze Bracket championship game of West Texas A&M’s Lady Buff Classic.
ENMU (13-8) beat defending NAIA champion Oklahoma City University 7-2 in Saturday’s semifinal round, scoring all its runs in the fourth inning to break open a scoreless game.
The Zias continued to get strong early-season pitching from Cruickshank (5-3) and junior Natalie Woodside (6-4), who gave up 13 Oklahoma City hits but kept them scattered in blanking the Stars (1-2) until the fifth inning.
First baseman Anna Hershkowitz went 4-for-4 against Oklahoma City while left fielder Alex Mayo Otis was 3-for-4, including a bases-loaded triple to key the fourth-inning eruption.
Woodside walked one and struck out six, stranding 11 OCU runners in her seven-inning complete game.
Cruickshank was particularly sharp against Highlands, retiring the first nine hitters before center fielder Pam Apodaca reached on an error leading off the fourth. Cruickshank then set down the final six hitters in a game ending after 4 1/2 innings on the eight-run rule.
ENMU also used a big inning against the Cowgirls, scoring eight times in the bottom of the first. Cruickshank followed three consecutive walks with a two-run single while second baseman Haley Hays added a two-run single later in the frame.
The Zias had only four hits in the contest, but benefited from 11 walks and two Cowgirls errors.
ENMU sports information director Adam Pitterman said that while no records are available for the program’s first two seasons, 1998 and 1999, the previous three Zias no-hitters all occurred during the 2000 season. The last one was by Jennifer Harrer against Texas-Permian Basin on April 11, 2000.