By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Eastern New Mexico University junior Valerie Villela went 4-for-8 from the plate and scored two runs as the Zias split a Saturday Lone Star Conference South doubleheader with Tarleton State at Zia Softball Field.
The Zias (13-16, 2-6 LSC South) won the first game 3-1. Tartleton State, as the TexAnns (15-7, 2-2) earn the split. took the second game 6-5.
“We’re disappointed we lost the second game,” said ENMU coach Armando Quiroz, who said after the game he was resigning effectively immediately to return to his family in Pima, Aroz. “But I’m not disappointed because I thought we competed and played well in both games.”
The Zias and TexAnns both posted one run in the first inning of the opening game before Villela scored on a wild pitch in the third inning to hand the Zias the go-ahead run.
Senior Kristina Goodman’s RBI ground out in the sixth inning scored freshman Casandra McCommons to help the Zias to a 3-1 lead.
Junior pitcher Nicole Dickson pitched a complete game for the Zias, allowing one run on four hits.
“Nicole was really outstanding on the mound in the first game,” Quiroz said.
Dickson wasn’t nearly as impressed.
“I struggled until the fifth inning,” Dickson said. “Our catcher had to dig so much out of the dirt. I wasn’t even throwing strikes until the sixth inning.”
ENMU freshman pitcher Kristen Cruickshank got the scoring started in the second game connecting on a two-run blast to deep left field in the second inning.
Tarleton State junior Kelli Gayle capped a four-run fifth inning for the TexAnns with a two-run scoring triple to left field, before Goodman singled home two runs to tie the game at 4-4 in the Zias half of the fifth inning.
Tarleton State sophomore Tamra Bradley hit a two-run game winning home run in the top of the sixth inning. Cruickshank hit her second home run of the day in the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn’t enough.
Cruickshank went 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits in Game 2.
“(Kristen) is an All-American waiting to happen, she’s still very young,” Quiroz said.