By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico University’s softball team couldn’t keep Tarleton State in the yard on Friday.
The TexAnns, who came in averaging a modest four runs a game, belted six home runs and posted two of their top three run totals this season in rolling to a 12-5, 9-0 Lone Star Conference South Division sweep at Zia Softball Field.
The teams complete their series with a 1 p.m. single game today.
Junior third baseman Brittany Terry homered three times for the TexAnns (19-15, 4-4 South), whose only previous game with more than eight runs came in a 12-6 shellacking of top-ranked Angelo State on March 6.
Sophomore right-hander Lauren Zearfoss (11-10) pitched a two-hitter for her third shutout of the season in the nightcap, shortened to six innings by the eight-run rule.
Meantime, the shellshocked Zias (17-15, 2-9) fell deeper into the division cellar.
“The wind was blowing out, our pitchers didn’t throw well and we didn’t hit at all in the second game,” Zias coach Amber Daniel said. “We have to outhit everybody this year, and we knew that (going in).”
Terry put Tarleton State in front with a two-run shot in the second inning of the opener, but the Zias took a 3-2 lead with a three-run third capped by Kimberly Crouse’s second homer of the season.
ENMU nearly got out of the fourth, but Tarleton’s Samantha Canfield legged out an infield squibber to put runners at the corners with two out. Catcher April Gonzalez followed with a three-run homer to left off junior Kristen Cruickshank (9-7) for a 5-3 Tarleton lead.
The TexAnns added seven runs on five hits in the top of the sixth to blow it open. ENMU avoided the eight-run rule with two in the bottom half, but that was it.
Junior Julie Norris (8-3) went the distance for the win, spacing 10 hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“Kristen’s stuff wasn’t working as well today as usual,” Daniel said. “It’s the Lone Star, and that’s what happens when you don’t compete as well as you need to.”
Terry and first baseman Tamra Bradley each homered twice in the second game. Norris had a two-run single to cap a three-run second, and Tarleton’s other runs all came on the homers.
“They’ve always been the best-hitting team in the conference, and I still think they are,” TexAnns coach Julie Mata said of the Zias. “I think we just got lucky on a few today, and our pitchers did a good job.
“Our (hitting) stats are a little deceptive. Errors have been a little bit of our downfall, but today we did a better job.”
Zearfoss issued four walks, working around two of them in the first inning. She allowed only an infield single by Rebecca Quinones in the fourth and a two-out, pinch-hit single by Amanda Terry in the sixth.