Zias hold on in opener, gain split

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks ENMU’s Taylor Howard stretches at first base to put out Incarnate Word’s Lea Padilla during the first inning of the second game of Friday’s Lone Star Conference softball doubleheader at Zia Field.

Dave Wagner

PORTALES — It’s been a tough season for Eastern New Mexico University’s softball team and pitcher Erin Roufosse.

Not many breaks have gone their way, but enough did Friday that the Zias and Roufosse upended Incarnate Word 8-7 in the opener of a Lone Star Conference South Division doubleheader at Zia Field, coming from behind three times to win it.

The Cardinals (28-21, 12-6 South), second in the division behind nationally ranked Angelo State, took the second game 11-0 on a one-hitter by sophomore right-hander Briana Sanchez. Still, the first-game loss cost UIW a game in the standings to ASU (39-8, 14-4) with three games left.

Roufosse (7-27), whose record might be considerably better except for a whopping 80 unearned runs against her, survived another shaky defensive showing. She easily could have had a shutout heading into the sixth inning, but a third-strike passed ball cost her two runs in the first while an error and a misplayed pop-fly single in the fourth led to three more.

“That’s happened quite a bit this year,” ENMU coach Lauren Sigwing said. “She pitched a really good game (Thursday, in a 7-3 loss in the series opener), but the score didn’t reflect it.”

UIW catcher Kaylen Skinner belted a one-out homer in the sixth to give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead, but ENMU rallied for three two-out runs in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded walk to Melanie Alderette and a two-run single by Tessa Fiorriti.

Roufosse gave up a one-out walk, a wild pitch, an RBI single by Monica Acuna and a two-out double by Kim Hansen in the seventh to make it 8-7. But she got Skinner on a foul pop to third to end it.

“I feel like I’ve pitched pretty well,” said Roufosse, a junior from British Columbia who transferred to ENMU from Seward County (Kan.) Community College. “I was a little shaky at the beginning of the year, but it’s been getting better. Today was pretty good.

“We made key plays today when we needed to, and got the hits when we needed them.”

Fiorriti, who had four RBIs, pulled the Zias (13-37, 3-14) to 5-4 in the fifth with a two-out, two-run double and scored on a double by Paige Colburn. In the first, freshman second baseman Samantha Emms followed a pair of walks by losing pitcher Whitney Waltrip (8-9) with a two-out, two-run double.

“Rocky’s been coming through for us lately,” Sigwing said of Emms, who is filling in for the injured Kate Medrano at second. “Tessa’s been in a slump, but she’s been coming out of it.”

Sanchez (19-9) made short work of the Zias in the nightcap, retiring the first 13 hitters before senior first baseman Taylor Howard lined a clean single past second. The game ended in five innings on the run rule.

“We came here to win three games, and obviously that didn’t happen,” UIW coach Todd Bradley said. “We knew we probably needed to win our last six games (to try to catch Angelo), so we’re a little disappointed. But that’s why you play the game.”