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Zias Sweep New Mexico Highlands, Extend Winning Streak to Seven Games

Box Score - Game 1 - ENMU 8, NMHU 0
Box Score - Game 2 - ENMU 5, NMHU 4

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — A three-hit shutout by Amanda Nightingale (Sr., RHP, Mesquite, TX/North Central Texas College) gave Eastern New Mexico University an 8-0 win in the opener and Jessica Nocas’ (Sr., SS, Riverside, CA/Midland College) RBI single in the ninth provided a 5-4 win for the sweep over New Mexico Highlands University on Tuesday, Mar. 7. Rosemary Moreno (Sr., RHP, Midland, TX/Midland HS) pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for the second game victory, as the Zias improved their record to 18-10 and have won seven consecutive games. The Cowgirls compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and dropped their record to 1-14 overall.

Nightingale dominated in the first game to record her fourth win in a row and improved her record to 5-2 this season. In the streak, Nightingale has not given up any earned runs and has recorded 29 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched. By giving up only 10 hits in the four games combined, Nightingale is holding the opposition to a .189 batting average.

Eastern arrived to the NMHU Softball Field with a .364 team batting average, tops in the Lone Star Conference. Highland’s starter Dominique Montoya had a rude awakening in the first inning as she was pulled after giving up a double to Christina Helland (So., RF, Albuquerque, NM/Rio Rancho HS) and a bases loaded RBI single to Elizabeth Whipkey (So., 1B, Orange, CA/Villa Park HS). Reliever Selena Hernandez did not fare much better, giving up a two RBI double to Tracy Jordan (Sr., 2B, Rosamond, CA/Desert HS) for a 4-0 Zia lead.

In the second, Helland hit her second double of the game to drive in Brianna Darnell (Fr. 3B, Farmington, NM/Piedra Vista HS) from second base. Back to back RBI singles by Whipkey and Jordan gave the Zias a 7-0 advantage. Tina Whitt’s (Sr., C, Riverside, CA/Midland College) double in the fourth drove in Nocas for an 8-0 lead, which allowed for the five inning run-rule ENMU victory.

With the win in the second game, Moreno improved her record to 8-5 and has won three consecutive games. She has given up only two earned runs in the three game winning streak, including two shutouts. Moreno has struck out 18 batters and walked only two in the 21 inning streak.

Through the first two innings of the second game, Moreno gave up only one hit, while Highlands’ starter Michelle Sayen allowed two hits. Eastern got on the scoreboard in the third, taking a 1-0 lead as Nocas singled in Darnell. The Cowgirls scored three runs in the third, taking advantage of two Zia errors and five singles to take their first lead of the day, 3-1. NMHU added a run to its lead in the fourth, as Karina Hernandez hit a two out RBI single for a 4-1 advantage.

The Zias began their rally in the sixth, as Whitt hammered the ball out of the park for two runs to get Eastern to within one, 4-3. ENMU, down to its last at bat, caught Highlands in the seventh, as Nocas hit her second RBI single of the game to knock in Goodman, who had stolen second. Goodman is in the top five in the LSC in steals with 16 swipes in 16 attempts. In the ninth, Nocas provided the winning run with her third RBI single of the game for the Zia lead and Moreno’s 1-2-3 final inning.

Whitt’s homer was her eighth of the year, good enough to lead the Zias and the LSC in the category. She leads the team with a .449 batting average and 13 doubles. In the double header, she batted .750 with three RBIs and one run scored. Nocas is second on the Zias with a .429 batting average, 30 RBIs and seven homeruns. Jordan leads the Zias with 32 RBIs and has recorded a .394 batting average.

ENMU will open up play in the very tough LSC South with a weekend series against Tarleton State University. The series will begin in Stephenville, TX , on Friday, Mar. 10 at 12 p.m. MST and conclude with another double header on Saturday, Mar. 11 at 11 a.m. MST.