MWC Play Finally Begins For Lobos
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/07/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 7, 2004

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN (AGAIN!): After their conference season opener was cancelled twice due to poor field conditions caused by heavy rain, the Lobos are ready to take on the conference again. They will now open at UNLV with a doubleheader on Friday, April 9 at 5 p.m. New Mexico will then take on the reigning conference champions, San Diego State, on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. San Diego State and UNLV are currently in a four-way tie for the conference lead with BYU and Utah.

UNLV will be no surprise to the Lobos, having already played them once this season. The two met at the Arizona Pepsi Classic in Tucson, Ariz. in the beginning of February. UNLV won the contest, 3-2 in eight innings.

New Mexico edges out the Rebels for the series lead, 16-14. UNLV grabbed the 3-1 win over the Lobos in the conference tournament, eliminating them from competition. In the regular season, New Mexico won three of four games against the Rebels, including two wins in Las Vegas.

It will be the first time the Lobos have seen San Diego State since the tournament last year when the fifth-seeded Lobos took the first-seeded Aztecs to 14 innings before losing 4-3. SDSU held a 3-1 regular season series lead. New Mexico's lone win came in San Diego from Amy Dumas. San Diego State has the advantage in the all-time series with 34 wins and 21 losses.

WEEKEND RECAP: The Lobos did not get to start their conference season at home due to poor field conditions caused by heavy rain that was dumped on Albuquerque. Fortunately, the rain held off on Tuesday, April 6, allowing the Lobos to get one game in against Eastern New Mexico. The Lobos gave a three-hit, shutout performance for a 1-0 win. Freshman Robyn Huston scored the game-winning run on an error. Only two other Lobos, senior Ora Hensley and junior Cassie Chavez had hits in the game. Sophomore Iraina Ogas got the start, senior Amy Dumas earned the win and junior Ashley Perkins picked up her first save of the season.

Senior Sabrina Sandberg has been red hot at the plate.

SLAMMIN' SANDBERG: Senior Sabrina Sandberg has been on fire at the plate. She hit .333 over six games in March, but that was not the most impressive stat from her weekend. Sandberg hit three home runs, which ties the number she has compiled in her entire career. She now has six home runs this season, double that of the past three years combined. Two of her home runs came in game one of the tournament against Harvard. She hit a grand slam in the seventh inning and a full count, solo home run in the second. Her other home run came on Saturday against North Texas. It was the only run scored that entire day by the Lobos and one of just seven hits.

Sandberg also had eight RBI this weekend which pushed her well over her career average. In her first three year, she compiled 5, 10 and 13 RBI, respectively. Her eight this weekend give her a total of 18. She led the team this weekend in home runs and RBI and is now tied for the season team lead in home runs and is second in RBI.

Sandberg is also hitting well above her norm. She has a career average of .168 and the highest season average she has ever maintained was last year's .247. This year she is hitting .271, the fourth best on the team.

She leads the team in runs scored (21) and is tied for the lead in home runs (6) with junior Cassie Chavez. She is tied for second in at bats (118) with junior Ashley Shartzer, RBI (18) with sophomore Iraina Ogas, and stolen bases (4) with freshman Ryanne Hodgins. Chavez leads the team in at bats (27) and RBI (20) while senior Jen Sena holds the top spot in stolen bases with six.

REVIEWING THE REBELS: UNLV is 19-23 overall and 2-2 in the MWC but its record does not reflect the tough schedule they have played. The Rebels have played 13 games against ranked opponents including eight against the top five in the nation.

At the plate, the Rebels are very solid, hitting .267 as a team. They do not hit with enormous power, compiling only five triples and five home runs. Individually, Bridget Byrne is leading the team in almost every category. She reigns supreme with her .452 average, 135 at bats, 23 runs scored, 61 hits, seven doubles and nine stolen bases. Brittany Freight and Lisa Sampson rank second and third on the team in batting average, hitting .323 and .302, respectively. Kacey Ellis leads the team in RBI wih 22.

The Rebels rely heavily on ace Jacquelyn Kerrigan for their pitching. Kerrigan is 16-14 overall with a 1.85 ERA. She has started all but 10 games, throwing 19 complete games and six shutouts. She has tossed 185.2 innings which is more than three times that of her teammates combined. Kerrigan has struck out 179 batters and walked 54. She leads the conference in strikeouts, innings pitched, wins and appearances. Also pitching for UNLV is Ellis and Becky McDonald. Ellis is 2-6 with a 4.73 ERA while McDonald is 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA.

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs come into the weekend with a 23-18 overall record and are 2-2 in the conference. As a team, they are hitting .250 and can attribute most of their wins to their amazing pitching staff which has a 1.47 ERA. The pitching staff has struck out 172 batters while walking just 40. Of the 94 runs scored on the Aztecs, only 59 were earned.

Meagan Hartung leads the SDSU offense, hitting .374 with 46 hits and 25 runs scored. She was only 2-for-20 all of last year. Janna Kovensky and Kelcy Murphy are also hitting well, with .336 and .292 averages, respectively.

Cori Janelli has a team-low 1.19 ERA but Celena Velasquez had the best record at 9-4. Janelli is 7-8 over 16 appearances while Velasquez has a 1.56 ERA over 22 appearances. Deanna Richards completes the rotation with her 1.60 ERA and 7-6 record.