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Jennings Rips Walk-Off Grand Slam to Humble UTEP

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Feb. 14) – New Mexico State softball senior Tiare Jennings ripped a two-out, walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth to put her stamp on the Aggies’ 13-3 victory over previously unbeaten UTEP to clinch the Hotel Encanto Invitational championship at the NM State Softball Complex Tuesday night.

Jennings set an NM State single-game record with eight RBI on the evening. The senior went 3-for-3 at the plate and reached base in all five of her at-bats with two walks, a single and a double to go along with the game-ending slam. The slam also moved Jennings past departed senior Ashley Maroda for second on the all-time NM State home run list with 44 career round trippers.

Junior Alex Newman was also solid in the circle for the Aggies, recording her fourth win of the year to improve to 4-0. The right-hander gave up three solo home runs on five hits to account for the Miner scoring. Newman struck out six and did not allow the walk in a six-inning complete game win.

The win is the third straight for NM State (5-0) in their annual two-game series with UTEP (4-1).

“I thought we played really well tonight,” said head coach Kathy Rodolph. “We continue to get contributions from multiple players. Obviously, Tiare (Jennings) really stepped up for us tonight.”

The Aggies retired the first six UTEP batters of the game on defense while posting three runs apiece in each of the first two frames.

A double by sophomore Valerie Swedberg brought across two runs in the bottom of the first. Jennings scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman Briana Tovio-Asato to give NM State a 3-0 lead after one.

Jennings’ one-out single in the bottom of the second scored two runs. A Miner error helped score a third run, unearned to put NM State up 6-0. Miner starter Cynthia Villastrigo left the game after one and a third as Colleen Hohman came on in relief.

UTEP hit two solo homers off of Newman in the top of the third to cut the lead to 6-2 after three.

Neither team would score until the bottom of the fifth. A double by Jennings scored two Aggie runs. She would later score on a single by junior Teresa Conrad to give NM State a 9-2 advantage heading into the sixth inning.

The Miners scored on another solo shot over the fence to make it 9-3 in the top of the sixth.

UTEP retired the first pair of Aggie batters in the sixth but NM State loaded the bases for Jennings’ game-winning grand slam.

Three Aggies joined Jennings with multiple hits in the game including two apiece from junior Amber Olive, junior Tehani Kaaihue and freshman Staci Rodriguez.

The Aggies host the Troy Cox Classic this weekend. NM State battles Weber State Friday, Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Complex. Joining the Aggies and WSU on the diamond this weekend are No. 24 Nebraska, Colorado State and Stephen F. Austin.

Source: NMSU Athletics

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