Grand slams stun Zias

CNJ staff

PORTALES — There are tough ways to lose softball games, and then there’s Saturday’s Tarleton State-Eastern New Mexico University matchup at Zia Field.

ENMU outplayed the TexAnns for much of the game, but Tarleton got grand slam home runs from Samantha Swanda in the fifth inning and Katie Welborn in the sixth to stun the Zias 10-9 and complete a three-game series sweep.

ENMU (11-35, 2-13 South), which hasn’t had much go right this spring, took a 4-2 lead through three innings when senior first baseman Taylor Howard hit a pair of two-run homers, her ninth and 10th of the season.

But a one-out error by Howard helped open the door for the TexAnns (20-21-1, 8-7) in the fifth. A walk and a single loaded the bases, and Swanda promptly unloaded them with her 11th home run of the season on an 0-1 pitch from Erin Roufosse.

The Zias pulled even in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded walk to Amanda Lale and an RBI infield single by Tonya Crockett. TSU loaded the bases in the sixth on another boot by Howard, an infield hit and a walk, and this time Welborn crashed her sixth homer of the year off Brittany Winder (5-8) over the right-center field barrier.

ENMU got a run-scoring single from Crockett and a two-out, two-run single from Tessa Fiorrriti in the bottom of the seventh, then loaded the bases again. Swanda relieved starter Kate Smith, who was chased in the first inning but had re-entered in the seventh, and got Samantha Emms on strikes on a 3-2 pitch to end it.

Crockett went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Zias, who outfit Tarleton 14-9, while Howard, Melanie Alderette, Emms and Emily Livingston all had two hits. ENMU stranded 11 baserunners, including eight in the final three innings.

First baseman Arianna Rodriguez hit a two-run homer for the TexAnns with two out in the third, tying the score 2-2. Randi Fentress (4-4) earned her second win in the series, going 5 1/3 innings after relieving Smith with two on, two out and two in in the first.