Zias post second split with Wildcats

PNT staff

ABILENE, Texas — Armando Quiroz wanted to be greedy, but in the end he was more than satisfied.

His Eastern New Mexico University softball team earned a second consecutive split with Lone Star Conference South Division-leading Abilene Christian on Saturday, losing 5-1 and winning 6-2. The results keep the Zias (27-13, 8-4 South) solidly entrenched in second place in the division.

“They’re a very good team, and we played them to a standstill,” Quiroz said.

“We went in (to the series) thinking bigger than that. We said, ‘If we’re going to have goals, let’s go for it.’ But realistically they’re a very good team, and we’re happy to split.”

Quiroz said the Zias would still like to overtake the Wildcats (29-10, 11-3) and win the division if possible, but they’re not thinking about that right now.

“I’m not smart enough to do the math,” he said of his team’s chances. “All I know is if we keep winning we’ll be in good shape.”

Senior Rosemary Moreno (15-5) earned her second win in the series in Saturday’s nightcap, blanking the Wildcats (29-10, 11-3) until the sixth and finishing with a four-hitter. She walked one and struck out four.

“Rose pitched a couple of great games this weekend,” Quiroz said. “She’s certainly been our money pitcher.”

The Zias jumped in front on Tina Whitt’s 11th home run of the season leading off the third. They went in front 4-0 in the fourth on a two-run homer by Kelsey Kubik, her seventh, and Whitt’s sacrifice fly.

First baseman Elizabeth Whipkey made it 6-1 with a two-run single in the seventh.

The Zias collected 10 hits off ACU’s Sarah Vidalin (7-6) and Melanie Smith.

In the opener, Wildcats ace Jennifer Leal (17-2) notched her second win of the series with a six-hitter. Abilene Christian broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the third, capped by third baseman Nicole Deel’s nine home run of the season, a three-run shot.

Deel singled home the game’s first run in the first inning off ENMU’s Natasha Lindsey (1-1). The Zias promptly tied it in the second when Whitt reached on an error, took second on a passed ball and scored on Kelsey Kubik’s double.

Leal, who lost Friday’s second game in relief when the Zias scored three times in the seventh for a 7-6 win, walked one and struck out three in Saturday’s opener. Senior Amanda Nightingale pitched three innings of two-hit relief for the Zias, striking out four.