MWC Softball Starts At Home With UNLV, San Diego State This Weekend
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/31/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 31, 2005

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The Lobos kick off Mountain West Conference action on Friday, hosting UNLV for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. On Sunday, San Diego State will come to Lobo Field for a twin bill also starting at 1 p.m. Following this weekend, New Mexico will head out on the road for two weeks, before returning home on April 23.

Having lost three straight to New Mexico at Lobo Field, New Mexico State took full advantage of its home field on Tuesday, getting revenge by sweeping the doubleheader in Las Cruces, N.M. The Aggies took game one, 4-1, and came from behind to take game two, 6-5.

Freshman Lindsey Elcess hit two home runs, one in each game, while junior Cassie Chavez hit her third home run of the season. Schmallen led UNM in game two, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Chavez was 2-for-4 with a double and a home run.

The losses end UNM's five-game win streak, dropping them to 10-17 overall.

However, the Lobos are on a five-game win streak at home. New Mexico has outscored its opponents 21-4 during the streak, while the UNM pitching staff has shut out the opposition in 28 of the last 29 innings.

Sophomore Ryanne Hodgins continues to lead the Lobos in batting average (.365), hits (35), runs scored (14), triples (two) and stolen bases (five)...She is one of five Lobos to start all 27 games this year and the only one to hold a perfect fielding percentage.

UNLV went 4-1 last week, including a 2-1 upset victory over then-No. 20 Northwestern. The Rebels have three wins vs. ranked opponents so far this season. The Rebels' performance at the Stanford Invitational helped them receive 11 votes in this week's USA Today/NFCA Top-25 poll. Through 35 games this season, the Rebels have 23 wins while the 2004 squad had 25 wins in 60 games.

Marissa Nichols and Jacque Kerrigan were chosen as this week's Mountain West Conference Player and Pitcher of the Week for their play at the Stanford Invitational. This is the second instance this season that both have been chosen as the recipients of the awards in the same week. Kerrigan's selection is the sixth of the senior's career, while Nichols, a freshman, has four total on the season.

Nichols hit a team-high .714 (10-for-14) with seven extra base hits (three home runs, three doubles and one triple). She plated eight RBI, while crossing home seven times herself. She amassed 24 total bases and held a slugging percentage of 1.714 with an on-base percentage of .778. She stole two bases on the weekend to give her a perfect 22-for-22 on the base paths this season. With hits in all five games, she lengthened her team-best hitting streak to 10 games.

In UNLV's first game of the Invitational against Illinois, Nichols went 4-for-4 with a double and a home run. She plated five RBI and scored two runs, as well. Against #24 Northwestern, she went 1-for-2 at the plate with her lone hit clearing the right field fence. She walked once and proceeded to hurt the Wildcats by stealing second and eventually scoring the winning run in a 2-1 contest. Nichols was responsible for UNLV's first two runs against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine in a 2-for-3 (double and triple) performance. She plated the Rebels' first run to tie the game at one with a triple. She scored the go-ahead run on an errant throw by UH's catcher. She got the Rebels off to a good start with the first run of the game after leading off with a double versus Saint Mary's. She knocked her third ball out of Smith Family Stadium with solo shot in the third. After the home run, she was walked twice and stole a base, as well. In the finale of the Invitational, against the #6 Cardinal, she recorded a single to extend her hitting streak to 10 games. Nichols currently leads the MWC in batting average (.475), slugging percentage (.907), on-base percentage (.533), runs scored (38), hits (56), RBI (29), triples (6), stolen bases (22) and total bases (107), and is second in doubles (12) and home runs (nine).

Kerrigan posted three victories in four appearances at the Invitational. She struck out four, while giving up four earned runs and 21 hits in 24.0 innings of work. Against Illinois she struck out four batters, scattered two hits and gave up no earned runs in 4.0 innings. In a match with 20th-ranked Northwestern, Kerrigan allowed seven hits and struck out seven. Versus Hawaii she struck out four and gave up four hits. On the season, Kerrigan is 15-11 with a 1.90 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 143.2 innings in the circle. She currently leads the conference in innings pitched (143.2), wins (15) and appearances (29).

UNM holds a slight series advantage over the Rebels, 18-16. Last year they met five times with UNLV winning three of them. The two games New Mexico did win were at home.

San Diego State was idle last week. The Aztecs head out on the road with a 22-12 overall record, including a 10-4 home record and 3-3 mark when they are away.

The Aztecs pitching staff leads the conference in ERA (1.28), opposing batting average (.195), strikeouts (266) and saves (six). Junior pitcher Celena Velasquez leads the MWC in ERA (0.72), strikeouts (140) and saves (five), and is second in opponent batting average (.164), innings pitched (107.0), wins (10) and appearances (26). She needs just one more save to appear in the NCAA career record books.

The Aztecs are 3-2 all-time in MWC openers, and 2-1 in conference openers on the road, and look to continue their recent hot streak, winning four of the last five and seven of the last 10 games.

The Aztecs lead the all-time series with New Mexico 39-21, and have won the last seven meetings in SDSU's second-longest running rivalry. In the Aztecs' five wins last season, SDSU outscored the Lobos 30-12., recording 37 hits in the process. New Mexico and the Aztecs last squared off May 14 at the MWC Championships in Fort Collins, Colo., a 2-1 SDSU win.