LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The UMKC softball team (15-40, 2-13 WAC) took an early lead against New Mexico State (28-22, 11-4 WAC) in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Semifinals but were unable to keep the pace, falling by a final score of 14-3.
Senior pitcher Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) was given the starting nod in the circle for the second consecutive game and looked sharp early on. Conner struck out her first batter of the game and retired the side in order in the top of the first inning.
The senior lefty navigated through trouble in the second, allowing back to back hits to open up the frame before picking up a big second strikeout for the first out. A baserunning miscue by the Aggies on a ball hit in the right center gap led to cost NMSU a bases loaded opportunity and put a second out on the board. Conner escaped the jam unscathed setting down the next batter on a lineout to end the frame.
UMKC jumped on the board in their first at-bat, leading off the bottom of the first with a triple to right center by Sydney Garcia (Kansas City, Mo.), her fourth three-bagger of the season. Ashlin O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.) immediately followed up with an RBI single up the middle to take an early 1-0 advantage.
NMSU would shift the momentum with a two-run frame in the top of the third to jump out in front. After inducing a groundout to open the inning, Conner issued her first walk of the game and advanced to third on a fly out and stolen base. With two outs and the tying run on third, Conner located a pitch low in the zone to get another groundball but a UMKC error allowed the run to score. The Aggies added another run on an RBI single one batter later.
Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) entered the circle in relief of Conner to pick up the final out in the third with the Roos trailing 2-1. Fluehr set down the side in order in the fourth before NMSU extended their lead in the fifth. Back to back singles to open the frame preceded an RBI single from Glackin, with a runner being gunned down at third by center fielder Maegan Rollow (Broken Arrow, Okla.). A two-run home run and an RBI double capped off a four-run frame, stretching the Aggie lead to 6-1.
Andra O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.) replaced Fluehr in the circle to pick up the final two outs in the inning before UMKC clawed back for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. An RBI groundout from Faith Willis (Kearney, Mo.) and a solo home run off the bat of Garcia, her second of the season, cut the deficit to 6-3.
The NMSU offense proved to be too much to contain as a three-run sixth inning and five-run seventh put the game out of reach. After playing stellar defense in the first two WAC Tournament contests, two errors led to five unearned runs for NMSU. Garcia finished with three hits and O’Brien collected two to lead the Roos offensively.
UMKC will play again tonight at 8 p.m. CT to face the winner of Grand Canyon and Utah Valley in an elimination game, with a WAC Tournament Championship Game appearance on the line. The game will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge and will have Live Stats available.
– UMKC –