Softball rallies to a 5-4 victory over New Mexico State

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Freshman Whitney Balch singled home a pair of runs to cap a wild seventh-inning rally and UTSA scored three in its final at-bat for a 5-4 victory at New Mexico State on Sunday in the final day of the Hotel Encanto Invitational.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, UTSA (3-4) loaded the bases with no outs. Sophomore Rudi Cantu reached on an error and freshman Danyé Holmes and sophomore Krista Sitka followed with back-to-back walks. Freshman Kristin Kappler then slapped a single to right field to plate Cantu and pull UTSA within one run. Pinch runner sophomore Mercedes Hessel was caught in a rundown on the play between third and home to give the Aggies (2-7) their first out.

After a pitching change, Kappler and Sitka moved up a base on a passed ball, forcing a change at catcher. That set the stage for Balch’s heroics. She lined a single to center field, which was booted, allowing Kappler to tie it and Sitka to cross the plate with the game-clincher.

Balch was 1-for-4 and finished the four-game tournament by going 8-for-12 (.667) with two home runs and five RBIs. She joined Holmes, who batted .333 and made two pitching appearances, on the all-tournament team.

Senior right-hander Amanda Nikolenko (1-1) picked up her first win of the season in the circle, striking out six and allowing just two earned runs on eight hits in the complete-game effort.New Mexico State, the host school but playing as the visitors, struck first with a run in the top of the third inning. Stephanie Herrera singled on the infield, stole second and scored on a two-out base hit by Stacey Lien.

UTSA answered in the bottom of the frame when Risberg lifted a one-out double to deep right and scored on a Sitka single up the middle with two down.

The Aggies tacked on a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, including a home run by Hoku Nohara, while the Roadrunners plated a run on another Sitka base hit in the fifth to set up the seventh-inning rally.