Ag softball rolls to NCAA tourney

Ag softball rolls to NCAA tourney

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Bulletin Staff Report Regular season Western Athletic Conference title? Check. WAC tournament championship? Check. Invitation to NCAA Softball Championship tourney? Check. The New Mexico State University softball team has checked off a variety of goals so far this season. Next on the list is success in the NCAA Tournament and even a shot at the national championship. The Aggies have already won a school-record 46 games this season and hopes add more, starting Friday, May 15 with a clash with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the regional at Tucson, Ariz. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (MDT). The double-elimination format regional will be played Friday to Sunday, May 15-17. Joining the Aggies (46-14) in Tucson is host and 12th-seeded Arizona (38-17), St. John’s (28-17) and Minnesota (46-9). The winner of the Aggies-Golden Gophers game will play the winner of the Arizona-St. John’s matchup Saturday while the two losing teams will meet in an elimination game. The regional final will take place on Sunday. NMSU and Minnesota played each other earlier this year, Feb. 20, in the Diamond Devil Invitational. The Aggies lost 6-1. NMSU is 8-9 all time against Minnesota. NMSU also played Arizona this season. The Aggies dropped both games of a double header to fall to 9-60 all time against the Wildcats. The Aggies have never faced St. John’s in the diamond. NMSU is led by WAC Player of the Year Staci Rodriguez, who has a .408 batting average, a .769 slugging percentage and a .535 on-base percentage. She has 16 doubles, 15 home runs and 56 RBIs on the season. Teammate Fiana Finau tied the program record with her 24 home runs. Minnesota counters with pitcher and current finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Sara Groenewegen who recorded the win when the Aggies and Golden Gophers met in February. She is 28-5 with a 1.54 ERA, and 344 strikeouts. Danielle Parlich, a finalist for the NFCA Freshman of the Year, leads Minnesota with a .409 batting average and has a team-best 72 hits. The New Mexico State University softball team celebrates after defeating Cal-Bakersfield to win the Western Athletic Conference championship Saturday, May 2, at the NM State Softball Complex. The Aggies now play in the NCAA Tournament in Tucson. LAS CRUCES BULLETIN PHOTO BY ORLANDO SANTANA

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