UNM Softball Opens The 2007 Season This Weekend In Arizona
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/06/2007
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 6, 2007

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The 2007 New Mexico softball team enters a new era this spring under the leadership of new head coach Ty Singleton. After making four NCAA appearances in six years as a head coach, Singleton takes over a program that went 23-31 last year and 4-16 in the Mountain West Conference. Since joining the program, Singleton and his staff have worked diligently to revamp the Lobo program and steadily improve.

UNM returns 13 student-athletes from last year's squad and welcomes eight newcomers. The Lobos are experienced at the plate and look to provide power along with a balanced attack. In the field, UNM has the tools defensively to compete against one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Lobos will rely on five healthy arms to battle for the top spots in the rotation. UNM remains focused and determined to bring an exciting new style of softball into the 2007 season.

Infield: The infield will be led by returning junior Lindsey Elcess and sophomore Analise Rubalcava at the corners with senior Jennifer Deitrich, junior Ashley Allen and newcomers Kim Holyfield handling the duties up the middle. Rubalcava is very strong with the glove and is a defensive strength at the hot corner. Her ability to make plays will be a guiding force for the Lobos. Elcess is a dependable first baseman, who will make a difference at the plate with power and her aggressive hitting style. Freshman Katie Gilmore has proven to be a tough defender who could see time at first and third. Deitrich brings experience and a strong work ethic into the season and will be vying for either the shortstop or second base spots. Holyfield has seen a lot of time at the shortstop position and has the tools to compete at the Division I level. It will clearly be a healthy competition for the starting role. Allen is battling for the second base job and regardless of the outcome all three will earn playing time this spring.

Outfield: The Lobos enter the season with a wealth of valuable outfielders. Seniors Becky Dover, Amy Ray and Ryanne Hodgins bring the most experience into the spring. Sophomore Samantha Hughes returns after a stellar freshman campaign and will compete for one of the three jobs. Sophomores Heather Carter, Marsha Taylor and freshman Sara Loeffelholz, who has proven to have power at the plate, have experience in the outfield and control their own destiny as far as starting and playing time. All the outfielders have speed and the arms to make plays defensively.

Catching: UNM will break camp with three primary catchers in sophomore transfer Rachel Balkovec, sophomore Marsha Taylor and freshman Erin Brandow after the loss of senior Liz Young in the fall. Balkovec spent last season with the Creighton Bluejays and will be looked upon as a leader. Her hustle and work ethic has helped to define her as a softball player. Brandow enters her first season at the collegiate level and has the skills to compete. Both will see time behind the dish and will play a major role in the teams success. Taylor recently made the adjustment to catcher but has show skills to play the position.

Pitching: The Lobos have five pitchers in the circle this season, including senior Caley Peterson. Peterson brings three years of collegiate experience to the rotation and is joined by junior college transfer Kelly Ninemire, sophomore Brittany Crail and newcomers Tori Rogers and Gabriella Parra. The pitching staff has improved over the last six months under the direction of coach Tom Royder and will continue to get better as the year progresses. The Lobos have good speed and movement to go along with the mental aspect of the game. As the season goes it will define the rotation.

Coaching Staff: Ty Singleton enters his first season with the Lobos and his seventh as a Division I head coach. He is one of the nation's top young coaches with an aggressive style and the ability to rebuild the UNM softball program. After spending the previous four years at the University of Missouri, Singleton has tried, with the help of an experienced staff, to groom the Lobos into a conference contender.

Tom Royder will handle the pitching staff this year and has a reputation as one of the best in the business. While working at Missouri under Singleton, Royder guided his pitching staff to 130 wins and averaged 32.5 wins per year. During his stint at Mizzou, Royder and the Tigers set numerous school records. Lacey Schanz enters her first year at UNM and will be the recruiting coordinator. Schanz brings experience as both a player and former head coach. Prior to join Singleton's staff, Schanz was the head coach at Truman State for four years, helping guide the Bulldogs to their fifth straight appearances at the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2005. Schanz was a three-year catcher and designated hitter for Georgia Tech from 1998-2000. Lindsey Leftwich is the graduate assistant on the staff and will be in charge of softball operations, while Elizabeth Economon is volunteering and will assist with the day-to-day duties.

Schedule: The 2007 New Mexico softball schedule is not only one of the best in school history but one of the nation's most difficult. The Lobos are slated to face 11 NCAA tournament teams from last year, including national powers UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Florida and Ohio State. UNM opens the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., against the Buckeyes, Sun Devils, Bruins, Fresno State and Gators. The Lobos have three non-conference tournaments, including the Kajikawa Classic, the Buzz Classic hosted by Georgia Tech and the Jayhawk Classic held in Lawrence, Kan., by Kansas. The remaining non-conference schedule includes the defending national champions Arizona, plus New Mexico State, Utah Valley State and Eastern New Mexico.

UNM faces a tough conference schedule with San Diego State, BYU and Utah all coming off NCAA appearances. The Lobos will play 20 MWC games with half of those being played at Lobo Field. The winner of the regular season will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.