Highlands rallies for series split

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Coming off two eight-inning losses on Saturday, it would’ve been hard to blame New Mexico Highlands’ softball team for feeling snake-bit when Michelle Anderson’s two-run homer in the seventh forced an extra frame again on Sunday.

The Cowgirls recovered, though, scoring three times in the eighth for a 10-7 win over Eastern New Mexico University in the opener of a doubleheader. Highlands earned a sweep and a series split with a 12-4 rout in the nightcap.

Freshman third baseman Natasha Reyes led a Highlands’ attack that sprayed 28 hits around Zia Softball Field in the twin bill, going 7-for-8 with a home run, four runs scored and four RBIs.

“Breaking the ice (with the first-game win) was important,” Highlands coach Mark Roberts said. “It’s tough when you keep going extra innings and don’t get it.

“We did a good job of hitting today.”

The Zias (8-4) struggled with their pitching and defense.

Highlands junior pitcher Michelle Sayen shook off a line drive off her leg in the second to pitch a complete game.

Highlands jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the nightcap, getting second-inning homers from Pulido and Nelson, and junior Karlee Trione (1-1) weathered some rough moments in the middle for a complete game.

Senior right fielder Kelsey Kubik ignited a three-run ENMU fourth with a leadoff home run.

“Hats off to Highlands,” ENMU coach Armano Quiroz said. “they’re a bunch of good hitters. We had trouble keeping them off the bases this weekend.

“Our pitchers were a little ‘toasted’ today, but Highlands did that to us.”

Anderson went 2-for-4 for the Zias in both games and is hitting .444 through 12 games. Meantime, second baseman Rebecca Quinones went 4-for-8 in the twin bill and is at .500.

The Zias are slated to face Hawaii-Hilo in a doubleheader on Wednesday to begin play in the Schutt Sports Leadoff Classic in Phoenix. ENMU will play a minimum of seven games in the four-day event.