Speed helps Zias in sweep

Freedom New Mexico: Karl Terry Eastern New Mexico University’s Tawna Lei Tagaloa narrowly misses the tag on a Texas Woman’s runner during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Zia Softball Field.

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Laura Thompson made her speed pay off Saturday.

The Eastern New Mexico University junior center fielder and leadoff hitter accounted for the winning run in both games after stealing third and continuing home on errors as the Zias finished their season with a 1-0, 6-5 Lone Star Conference South Division sweep of Texas Woman’s at Zia Softball Field.

Senior Nicole Dickson (6-5) pitched a four-hit shutout in the opener and made Thompson’s first-inning run stand up. It came after she led off the inning with a single up the middle, took second on Jessica Pacheco’s sacrifice bunt, stole third and then scored when Pioneers third baseman Meagan Peiser couldn’t handle the throw.

The Zias (28-28, 6-12 South), who went 5-0 for the week to reach the .500 mark for the season, managed only three hits in the game off Texas Woman’s right-hander Allie Packer (4-19).

Dickson pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first, but the Pioneers (16-42, 2-16) never got a runner past second base after that.

In the second game, junior Natalie Woodside (9-13) pitched six innings in relief, allowing eight hits and two runs (one earned), after the Pioneers jumped on starter Kristen Cruickshank for three runs in the top of the first.

ENMU took a 5-3 lead with a four-run second that chased Packer. Thompson had a run-scoring triple in the inning, while Alex Mayo Otis capped the rally with a two-run single.

Pioneers shortstop Rachel Johnson, who hit a two-run homer in the first, pulled Texas Woman’s to 5-4 with a leadoff homer in the fifth. The Pioneers tied it in the sixth when Tiffani Boone singled and eventually scored on an error by ENMU shortstop Casandra McCommons.

In the bottom half, Thompson walked with one out, stole second, took third on a sacrifice and scored when first baseman Ashley Martin’s return throw to third was wild.

Thompson went 2-for-3 with three runs scored for the Zias. Johnson finished 3-for-4 for Texas Woman’s, which lost despite outhitting ENMU 13-7.

Five of the Zias’ runs in the nightcap were unearned, the result of four Pioneers errors.