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First-Ever CUSA Battle of I-10 Series Goes to NM State

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Around midday on Saturday, the coaching staffs of NM State and UTEP looked at the upcoming weather forecast. Sunday showed anticipated wind gusts of 60-plus miles per hour, prompting the two schools to schedule a doubleheader on Saturday. Both games were played, with the Miners and Aggies splitting on the day. NM State took the series win 2-1, highlighted by a masterful two-way performance in the second outing from Desirae Spearman. The Aggies are now 16-12 with a 6-3 mark in Conference USA action. 


The two sides traded runs across the first three half innings, led by a Devin Elam sacrifice fly to put the Aggies on the board. Still, UTEP held a 2-1 advantage after the top of the second. The score would remain locked until the visitors poured in four runs in the fifth frame. The first Miner to cross was the only earned run in the inning, but the Aggies would never take the lead, ultimately landing Emily Dix with the loss. The senior from Albuquerque struck out three batters across 4.2 innings and fell to 7-7 on the season.

The Aggies got their offense going as the game went on, notching nine of 10 runs in the final 3 innings. Jillian Taylor and Dezianna Patmon each drove in a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Taylor singled with one out, freeing up Desirae Spearman and Jessica Carreon to come home. In the next at-bat, Patmon sent a pitch the opposite way, landing just past the right-field foul pole to add on two more runs. After five innings, NM State trailed 6-5. 

UTEP poured in four more sixth-inning runs, propelled by an Ajia Richard 3-run home run. Kayla Lunar answered in the bottom of the frame, absolutely crushing her first home run of her Aggie career. The senior third baseman left no doubt, sending the pitch well beyond the left-field wall, cutting the lead to three. Later in the inning, a UTEP wild pitch would score Savannah Bejarano to pull within two runs (10-8). 

Richard produced another pair of runs, sending a double to dead center, expanding the road lead to 12-8. In the home team's last chance, Kayla Lunar drove in her third and final RBI of the game on a sac fly. Later, with the bases loaded, the Miners intentionally walked Spearman, conceding a run, pushing the game to 12-10. Jillian Taylor struck out swinging, ending the first game and granting UTEP its lone win of the series. 


After missing 13 games due to injury, freshman standout Desirae Spearman had been held out of the circle since Feb.17 against Montana. In game two, Spearman pitched once again, delivering one of her most dominant performances yet. The Miners' offense did get going again in the first inning, taking an early 2-0 lead, but neither run was earned due to a costly Aggie error. UTEP would not score again.

In the bottom of the third, Spearman followed up her team's aggressive baserunning and plate discipline with a groundout, bringing Jessica Carreon across the plate to open the scoring for the home side. In the next inning, Jayleen Burton sent a sac fly into left field, scoring Devin Elam to tie the game at two runs apiece. 

While the Aggies were clawing back to draw even, Spearman was exceptional in the circle. The El Paso freshman recorded strikeouts on seven consecutive outs, including three straight in the third inning.

In the home half of the fifth inning, Spearman came up to the plate with the game still knotted at 2-2. Facing an 0-2 count, she sent a ball down the right-field line and past the out-stretched glove of the UTEP right fielder. The ball trickled into the deep right field corner, and Spearman never stopped. Assistant Coach Cat Heifner waved the freshman home, and she slid in ahead of the tag. 

The inside-the-park home run gave the Aggies a 3-2 lead, in what would be the final score. Spearman's offensive heroics not only gave the team the final lead, but earned her the run needed to secure a win in the circle. Spearman is now 4-0 on the season, boasting 37 strikeouts and a stunning 0.23 ERA. 

The freshman phenom followed up the all-important at-bat with another three-strikeout inning in the sixth, setting up a do-or-die top of the seventh for UTEP. The Miners sent a runner to first after a walk with two outs. The next batter struck out looking, securing Spearman's 12th punch-out of the game in what is her new-career high.


NM State will stay home in its one week off from CUSA play. The Aggies will welcome New Mexico to town on Tuesday, March 26 for another rivalry doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 PM MT from the NM State Softball Complex. The doubleheader will be streamed on ESPN+ and available to follow via

For complete coverage of NM State Softball during the 2024 season, visit – the official home of the Aggies – and follow the Aggies on Facebook (NM State Softball), Twitter (@NMStateSoftball) and Instagram (@NMStateSoftball).

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Bea Martinez

NMSU Athletics


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