Zias settle for Sunday split

CNJ staff

PHOENIX — Facing a struggling Western New Mexico squad, the Eastern
New Mexico University softball team was set to close out a 4-1 run
through the Schutt Sports Division II Leadoff Classic on Sunday.

Then the roof fell in.

With ENMU leading 10-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh,
Western then loaded the bases with one out. A fielder’s choice scored a
run but produced the second out.

A walk and six consecutive hits followed, and the stunning eight-run rally lifted Western (2-6) to an 11-10 victory.

Earlier, ENMU (5-5) run-ruled Lacey, Wash.-based St. Martin’s 9-1.

Junior pitcher-first baseman Kristen Cruickshank had a huge weekend.
She earned the pitching victory in two games, including Sunday’s
five-inning opener against the Saints, and also homered in each of the
five games — six in all, giving her seven roundtrippers for the season.

Alex Mayo Otis and Cruickshank hit back-to-back, one-out homers in
the bottom of the seventh on Saturday as the Zias edged Montana
State-Billings 6-5. Then Cruickshank, who is batting .514 (18-for-35),
went deep twice to drive in four runs in a 5-3 victory over previously
unbeaten Dixie State later Saturday.

In Sunday’s first game against St. Martin’s, ENMU nursed a 1-0 lead
on Mayo Otis’ first-inning RBI single into the top of the fifth. The
Zias erupted for eight runs on seven hits, highlighted by a two-run
double to right-center by Josette Aguirre, a two-run single by Michelle
Williams and Cruickshank’s two-run homer to left-center.

Cruickshank carried a three-hit shutout into the bottom of the
inning, but gave up a leadoff homer to senior catcher Kaci Hernandez
and two singles before finishing it off.

Cruickshank then posted her second six-RBI game of the season,
raising her total to 23 so far, with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate
against Western. She gave the Zias a 3-1 lead with a three-run homer in
the third, doubled home two more in a six-run fourth that made it 9-2
and added an RBI single in the sixth.

Kimberly Crouse (2-4) relieved starter Brittany Regalado in the
third and allowed four hits and a run over the next four innings.

The Zias open the home portion of their schedule with noon
doubleheaders against Texas-Permian Basin on Thursday and Oklahoma
Panhandle State on Friday.