Cowgirls finish strong, split

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Ashley Paiz’s steady pitching effort, backed by pretty good hitting from her teammates, ensured that Western New Mexico would not go home with a sweep.

The New Mexico Highlands softball team won 10-2 in Sunday’s finale of a four-game series at Cowgirl Field.

Paiz, who pitched a complete six innings in a game ended by the eight-run rule, had one of her better performances of the season. She held the Mustangs to two earned runs on four hits and no walks, striking out two.

Highlands led 7-0 going into the sixth inning, and Western averted a shutout with Ashley Gonzales’ solo home run to lead off the top half of the frame. Kaitlynn Barnes’ RBI single to score Brittney Batten made it 7-2.

But the Cowgirls did one better in their half of the inning. Shelby Hoffman drilled a triple to right center field to score Britny Cottrell and Samantha Butler. And Melissa Martinez’s base hit on the next at-bat got Hoffman to the plate. That pushed the margin to eight runs and ended the game early with two outs and Martinez on first.

Roxanne Avalos led the Cowgirls with a 3-for-4, three-RBI, one-run effort.

Avalos rocked a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, scoring herself and Butler and making it a 7-0 spread.

Highlands led 1-0 after Avalos singled to score Butler with two outs in the bottom of the first.

The Cowgirls’ lead grew by four runs in the second inning. Paiz drove in the first run, singling to score Hoffman, who’d reached on an error. Up next, Butler drove in Martinez. Then Kristy Partridge roped a triple to left center, allowing Paiz and Butler to make it home.

Martinez finished 3 of 4 with one RBI and one run. Butler and Hoffman each collected two hits.

NMHU outhit Western 13-4 and took advantage of three Mustang errors in improving to 8-35 overall and 5-27 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

In Sunday’s first game, WNMU’s Bri Robles again outdueled Martinez in a competitive pitchers’ standoff as the Mustangs prevailed 2-0.

Robles (10-14) struck out four and allowed just four hits and three walks with no runs in a seven-inning shutout.

Martinez (5-22) held WNMU to five hits, one walk and two earned runs, fanning three, while also going seven innings.

Western scored the game’s only runs in the top of the fifth. Jessica Jayo got home from third on a wild pitch by Martinez. Then Ashley Gonzales scored from third on a foul-out pop-up by Aimee Vasquez.

After a scheduled Tuesday game with non-league rival Eastern New Mexico, the Cowgirls and head coach Shellie Broyles host Nebraska-Kearney in doubleheaders Friday and Saturday at Cowgirl Field.