SEATTLE —New Mexico State got a first-inning, three-run home run from catcher Nikki Butler on Friday night and held on to beat Utah Valley, 4-3, to gain a spot in the Western Athletic Conference softball tournament’s championship round for the 10th consecutive time.
The Aggies (31-20) will face second-seeded Seattle on Saturday afternoon.
One day after being knocked off by fourth-seeded Utah Valley, the top-seeded Aggies bounced back earlier Friday to beat Grand Canyon 6-2 to advance in the four-team, double-elimination tournament.
■ New Mexico has had a miserable season but is finishing strong. Behind a three-homer day by Albuquerque’s Andrea Howard, the Lobos (10-35) swept a doubleheader Friday at Utah State (13-30), winning 9-4 and 9-3. The series and season finale is Saturday at noon in Logan, Utah.
In the opener, Howard went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs in the opener. Pitcher Emma Guindon overcame nine Utah State hits and her own team’s shaky defense, which committed four errors.
In the nightcap, the Lobos’ fourth consecutive victory, Cameryn O’Grady doubled home two runs and Howard homered in two more in a five-run seventh inning to break it open. All five runs were unearned. Ashlyn Roberts (2-2) earned the complete-game victory.
TRACK AND FIELD: At the Mountain West Conference championships in Clovis, Calif., Charlotte Prouse and Amelia Mazza-Downie got New Mexico off to a blistering start on Thursday. Prouse won the women’s 10 kilometers in 32 minutes, 38.81 seconds, the third-fastest time in Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championship history and third-best nationally in 2021. Mazza-Downie finished second in 33:05.71, the fifth-best time in league championship history and 10th fastest in the country in 2021.
Friday, UNM’s Camillo Dunninger won the men’s decathlon with 7,481 points. Dunninger placed first by wide margins in the pole vault (16-0¾) and the javelin (193-11) en route to the title.
■ In Edinburg, Texas, New Mexico State’s Yemisi Oroyinyin put forth the best shot-put throw — 51 feet, 11 inches — ever recorded at the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex en route to an individual title on Friday’s day two of the WAC women’s outdoor championships..
NMSU sits in second place with 61.5 points, trailing Grand Canyon’s 105.5 points through the first two days of action. The meet concludes Saturday and streams in ESPN+.
BASEBALL: At Santa Ana Star Field, Willie Cano went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs and the University of New Mexico (10-23) defeated Utah Valley (9-40) in the opener of a three-game series. Game two is Saturday at 6 p.m.
Connor Mang was 2-for-2 and drove in two runs the Lobos’ pivotal six-run sixth inning. Isaiah Campa (2-2) got the victory in relief as UNM snapped an eight-game losing streak.
■ In Las Cruces, Cal Baptist (32-13, 24-5) defeated New Mexico State (19-28, 16-17) 10-4 in the opener of a three-game WAC set. Game two is Saturday.