Erica Beach enters her fourth season at the helm of the New Mexico softball program in 2013-14.
Beach is coming off a roller coaster of a season for 2012-13 that saw the Lobos post a 21-35 record with a lineup that was consistently juggled due to multiple injuries.
Beach challenged her Lobos with a 56-game schedule - the most in the regular season of any Mountain West team and the most played by a UNM squad since 2004. The strength of schedule was probably one of the toughest in the league as well. The Lobos had eight games against top-25 opponents and 12 of the teams that made it to postseason play in 2013 were squads the Lobos faced during the regular season. Further testament to the challenging slate: four of the eight teams to play in the Women's College World Series- Oklahoma, Arizona State, Washington and Nebraska-- were teams UNM played during the regular season.
A key area of improvement for UNM in 2013 was seen in circle. The Lobo pitching staff had an ERA of 4.33 - the second-best in the past eight seasons - and an opponent batting average of .293 - the lowest in recent history. The Lobos struck out 234 batters, the most recorded by a UNM squad in at least the last eight seasons.
Other areas of strength for the 2012-13 Cherry & Silver was defense and stolen bases. The Lobos were second among Mountain West teams for double plays turned with 20 -- UNLV led the league with 27. The Lobos were also second in the league for stolen bases, nabbing 53 bags - Fresno State swiped 87.
The 2012 season was one for the history books, thanks in large part to second-year head coach Erica Beach and her staff.
Beach and her staff guided the Lobos to a 27-25 record - a drastic turnaround from the program's 11-37 mark of 2010 and the best record posted by the softball team in quite some time.
The Lobos set new team records, such as the program's mark for best start to a season, going 17-2 to surpass the previous best of 13-2 set by the 1984 team, and two Mountain West conference records for most home runs with 95, and best team slugging percentage with a .568. The Lobos also rank in the MW's top 10 for RBIs (319) and total bases (832). UNM also accomplished other important feats - the program's first winning season since 2001 and the first 20-plus win season since 2008.
The 2012 squad also reached the USAToday/National Fastpich Coaches Association top-25 poll for the first time since May 12, 1999--cracking into the ranks at No. 24 in the third week of the poll on Feb. 28. The Lobos made it as high as No. 23 in the poll for weeks #4 and #5.
Beach's `Bos ranked No. 1 among NCAA Div. I softball programs for home runs the entire regular season, ending with a total of 95--an average of 1.83 long balls per contest. UNM hit at least one homer in all but nine games and the Lobos had a game-high five home runs on Feb. 17 at home against Bryant.
According to statistics released by the NCAA for Division I softball for games through May 13, the Lobos ranked third for slugging percentage (.568), eighth in scoring (6.67 runs per game) and 20th in batting average (.311).
Beach coached two All-Region players in Stefanie Carramusa and Jessica Garcia, who were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's All-Region West Teams. Garcia also earned NFCA at-large third team All-America honors and Easton Fastpitch second team All-America honors. She became the first Lobo since 1990, and only the fifth in program history, to receive national honors.
In her first season, Beach compiled a record of 19-26. The Lobos were 9-8 at home, 5-14 on the road, 5-4 on neutral ground and 5-10 in Mountain West play.
The 2011 season record of 19-26 was a drastic improvement on New Mexico's 2010 performance of 11-37 overall (3-19 at home, 1-8 away, 7-10 neutral and 1-14 in conference play) and the Lobos' best record since 2008 (25-26 overall, 7-13 in conference play.
There's no doubt that Beach and Co. have instituted a positive change for Lobo softball and have breathed new life into the program.
Comparing the last three seasons...
Erica Beach Named Head Coach of New Mexico Softball, June 2010
Erica Beach was named the fourth head softball coach in school history on June 17, 2010. Beach came to UNM from Ohio State where she was a successful assistant for four seasons (2006-10). Beach is one of the top coaches nationally.
"We are excited to have a coach of Erica's caliber lead our softball program," said University of New Mexico Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs in June 2010. "She has had success at every level; as a player, as a professional and as an assistant coach. She also has strong ties to the southwest part of the country--including New Mexico--an area full of young softball talent."
A former All-American and Academic All-American softball player at Arizona State, Beach has spent the past eight years building her coaching resume and playing professionally.
"Joining the University of New Mexico Athletics Department is truly a fantastic opportunity," Beach said in June 2010. "I couldn't have asked for a more supportive administration and am ready to get this program to the top of the Mountain West and into the NCAA Tournament."
When asked about what drew her to UNM, Beach stated, "I feel the University of New Mexico offers so many things to both staff and student-athletes. There are amazing academic resources, top-notch facilities and a supportive local community. This institution has everything a student-athlete needs to be competitive on the field and successful in the classroom. All of these factors make me excited to be a New Mexico Lobo."
Beach joined the collegiate coaching ranks in the summer of 2006 when she made the move to Ohio State. She worked primarily with the Buckeyes pitchers and catchers, while coordinating other aspects of the game and daily team administration. The Buckeyes hosted and advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship game in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with the 2009 team moving on to the NCAA Super Regional. In her four years at OSU, pitchers and catchers earned three All-America selections, seven All-Region honors and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Under Beach's tutelage, pitcher Kim Reeder finished the Buckeyes' campaign in 2009 as a third-team All-American. As a senior, Reeder set Ohio State career records for wins (77) and innings pitched (763.2) while holding the No. 2 spot for strikeouts with 706. In 2009, she also set the season record for wins (26) and complete games (23).
As a group, Buckeyes pitchers tallied 159 wins with 56 shutouts in the four years Beach took over coaching duties. In addition to working with the pitching staff, she worked with the catchers and outfielders and coordinated all team travel throughout the season.
Beach began her coaching career at the same time as her professional playing career. She led a junior squad in the Netherlands to the Dutch Junior League championship, then spent the next three years as an assistant coach at high schools in the Phoenix, Ariz., area. On staff at two programs at the same time, Beach helped lead Phoenix Country Day High School and Chaparral High School to the state tournament twice (2003, 2004). She then served as an assistant coach at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, Ariz.
Beach played her college ball at Arizona State from 1999-2002. A pitcher and designated player, Beach led the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament all four seasons with two Women's College World Series appearances in 1999 and 2002. She was named to the 2002 WCWS All-Tournament Team as a pitcher and was a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree. Also strong in the classroom, Beach was a First Team Verizon Academic All-American in 2001. Beach earned her bachelor's degree in Broadcasting from ASU in 2003.
In the fall of 2003, Beach began her professional career in Europe playing for the Sparks Haarlem in The Netherlands. She led the team to the 2003 European Cup championship and was named the European Cup Most Outstanding Pitcher. In 2004 and 2005, she played for the Arizona Heat in the National Pro Fastpitch League and was an All-Star in 2004. From 2006-08, Beach helped lead the New England Riptide to the NPF championship.
"I'd like to thank Paul Krebs and Janice Ruggiero for putting their trust in me to steer the Lobo softball program in the right direction."
Team Season Year-by-Year Under Coach Beach