Zias use long ball to notch sweep over Lady Buffs

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

Apparently, Kelsey Kubik’s teammates weren’t that impressed when her second-inning line drive skimmed the right-center field fence at Zia Softball Field and fell over for a three-run homer.

“They told me to hit (the ball) harder the next time, so I did,” the Eastern New Mexico University junior said Friday.

She laced a drive off the windshield of an ENMU van parked behind the left field fence in the sixth inning to cap the scoring in the Zias’ 14-7 victory of Friday’s Lone Star Conference South Division softball opener against West Texas A&M

In the nightcap, Elizabeth Whipkey two homers and Tina Whitt added another to back senior right-hander Rosemary Moreno’s four-hitter in an 8-0 ENMU win. The teams finish the series with a noon doubleheader today.

“I was in a slump, but I broke out of it,” said Kubik, who came to ENMU at the semester and hadn’t played softball since 2004 at Pima Community College in Arizona.

She went 3-for-3 in the opener with five RBIs as the Zias (22-12, 4-2 South) passed their win total from last season. ENMU’s five home runs raised its LSC-leading season total to 38.

“That’s the way the year’s been going,” ENMU coach Armando Quiroz said. “They just crank the ball.

“I’ve never been on a team where we bunt the ball so little, but this team doesn’t have to. They’re an amazing group.”

WT coach Kevin Blaskowski, who coached ENMU in 2004, said his youth-laden first-year squad is simply overwhelmed.

“Our roster’s depleted and we’re just giving up too many runs,” he said. “We’re missing six starters (to injury, illness and suspension) and it makes it tough to play.

“We’re very talented; we’ll be good in time. It’s not our goal to win the (South) this year. Our goal is to build a program and get it done right.”

The Lady Buffs (10-28, 1-9) chased Zias first-game starter Amanda Nightingale with three runs in the first inning, and regained leads of 5-4 and 7-6 later in the game. But ENMU kept scoring, and senior Natasha Lindsey (6-4) went 6 1/3 innings in relief for the win.

Leading 8-7, the Zias put the game away with a five-run fifth capped by Whitt’s two-run single.

“The girls always play with confidence; it’s a great quality to have,” Quiroz said. “I never see panic in their eyes.”

Whitt broke up a scoreless tie in the third inning of Game 2 with a two-out, three-run homer just inside the foul pole in left. It was her team-leading ninth of the season. The other runs scored on Whipkey’s blasts — a three-run homer in the fourth and a game-ending, two-run shot in the sixth, both also with two out.

Moreno (11-5) pitched in her fifth shutout of the season, including her third in division play.