Zias win under interim coach

CNJ staff

HOBBS — Eastern New Mexico University’s softball team dominated early in the opener and late in the nightcap en route to a doubleheader sweep of College of the Southwest on Wednesday.

The Zias scored six runs in the first and cruised to a 9-2 first-game win, then overcame a 4-0 first-inning deficit to take the second game 8-5 with three runs in the top of the 10th.

It was the season debut of interim coach Amber Daniel, who will direct the Zias (15-16) for the rest of the season after coach Armando Quiroz resigned over the weekend, citing family issues in Arizona.

Daniel spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons at ENMU and led the team to a 22-27 record the first year after Quiroz was sidelined early in the campaign with a fractured ankle and returned to Arizona to recuperate.

“Under the circumstances, they played really well,” Daniel said of the Zias. “They fought really hard. College of the Southwest was a much improved team from last year.”

CSW (12-8) is coached by Ron Landschoot, who served as the Zias’ head coach in 2003.

Junior right-hander Nicole Dickson (10-3) benefited from the early outburst in the opener, allowing three hits over five innings. Meantime, freshman Kristen Cruickshank went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.

The Zias’ first-inning outburst included a two-run single by Michelle Anderson, an RBI double by Cruickshank, a run-scoring single by Casandra McCommons and a two-run double by Dickson. McCommons finished 2-for-4 and was involved in all three double plays turned by the ENMU infield.

Down 4-0 in Game 2, Cruickshank blasted a leadoff homer and freshman Rebecca Quinones added a three-run double to tie the game in the second. The home run was Cruickshank’s eighth of the season and fifth in the last six games.

Neither team scored again until the eighth when Kristina Goodman singled home Cruickshank. CSW tied the game in the bottom of the inning, but the Zias went in front for good when Cruickshank hit an RBI single.

Freshman Alex Mayo-Otis extended her hitting streak to nine games by driving in Cruickshank with a double, and she later scored on a squeeze bunt by McCommons.

Cruickshank (3-6) went the 10-inning distance in the circle, throwing 147 pitches. Quinones was 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, while Goodman finished 3-for-6.