Zias split twin bill at Highlands

CNJ staff

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Freshman left-hander Melissa Martinez threw a no-hitter, allowing only two baserunners and striking out 10, as New Mexico Highlands blanked Eastern New Mexico University 7-0 Tuesday to salvage a split of their season-opening softball doubleheader.

Four Zias drove in two runs apiece as ENMU took the opener 15-6. The games, originally scheduled for Portales, were moved because of heavy snow which made Zia Softball Field unplayable.

ENMU will now host the return twin bill against the Cowgirls on April 21.

In the nightcap, Martinez hit ENMU reliever Brittany Widner with a pitch leading off the fourth inning, ending a string of nine consecutive batters retired. The Zias’ other baserunner came when left fielder Kassandra Sanchez reached on a two-out error in the fifth by first baseman Kelsey Groff.

Highlands jumped in front on a two-run single by Tanya Groff in the first, added an unearned run on a passed ball in the second and broke it open with four in the fifth, highlighted by catcher Roxanne Avalos’ two-run triple.

The Zias dominated the opener, shortened to five-innings by the eight-run rule. They scored nine runs in the top of the fourth for a 15-2 lead, highlighted by a two-run single from Sanchez and a two-run double by winning pitcher Kristen Cruickshank.

ENMU got a two-run single from center fielder Josette Aguirre to key a four-run second against Tanya Groff, who lasted 2 2/3 innings as the starter. Kelsey Groff relieved her and allowed nine runs in 2 1/3 innings, issuing seven walks.

Catcher Michelle Anderson and Sanchez each had two hits and two RBIs for the Zias, who finished with 10 hits.

Cruickshank worked four innings, allowing three hits and three runs with one walk and two strikeouts. Amanda Lale pitched the fifth.

The Zias return to action in the St. Mary’s Classic at San Antonio, playing five games in three days. Their first outing is at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday against Texas A&M-International.