Lobos' Race For The Top Of The MWC Begins Saturday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/30/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

March 30, 2004
LET THE BATTLE BEGIN: The Lobos jump right into conference play this weekend, hosting Colorado State for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 3 starting at 1 p.m. Saturday is also Youth Day at Lobo Field.

Colorado State, picked in the preseason poll to finish second in the conference, is the top team in the conference standings as of March 29th. New Mexico is currently third and were picked to finish last in the preseason poll.

New Mexico holds the 39-27 lead in this ancient series that dates back to the Lobos first season in 1977-78. The Rams have held the advantage lately though. CSU swept the four-game series over New Mexico last year. The closest the Lobos came to a win was the first game in which they lost 1-0 on April 5th in Albuquerque.

Colorado State is last year's Mountain West Conference tournament champions and placed second in the regular season. As a two seed, the Rams knock off first seed San Diego State, 3-1 to advance to the NCAA tourney. They lost to Arizona in the first round. They finished the year 13-7, the exact reverse of the Lobos record. The Lobos were eliminated in the first round of the tournament and finished fifth in the conference.

CSU dominated the all-tournament team last year. The Rams placed Megan Masser, Stephanie Roberts, Ricki Walker and Melanie Laffoon to the team. Masser took home the MVP honor. All four return to this year's team. Masser, Roberts, Walker and Jennifer Mahoney were also selected to the All-MWC team while New Mexico had Iraina Ogas, Kelly Glass and Ashley VanBoxmeer honored.

WEEKEND RECAP: The Lobos went 2-4 this weekend at the Mean Green/Wells Fargo Classic. The Lobos hit five home runs in the first day, beating Harvard 10-4 and Northern Colorado 9-7. Several errors hampered the Lobos the rest of the weekend, losing four straight.

Seniors Ora Hensley and Sabrina Sandberg and junior Cassie Chavez were named to the all-tournament team. Chavez hit a team-leading .412 with four runs scored including one home run and three RBI. Sandberg and Hensley hit .333. Sandberg hit three home runs, scored four runs and compiled a team-leading eight RBI. Hensley scored a team-high six runs and hit three doubles.

Junior Ashley Shartzer anchors the Lobo infield and provided some pop to the offensive lineup last weekend.

ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN: The Lobos hold first in the Mountain West Conference in 17 team statistic categories and place in the top 10 in 51 individual categories.

The team leads in four of 21 batting category (total plate appearances-1,289, at bats-1,130, walks-90 and hit by pitch-17). In pitching categories, New Mexico leads in seven of the 22 statistics kept, which are batters struck out (257), batters struck out looking (75), saves (6), innings pitched (292.1), wins (25), wild pitches (22), and sacrifice bunts allowed (32). In fielding categories, the Lobos take the cake in six of the 11 categories (stolen bases against-42, steal attempts against-51, catcher's interference-1, chances-1,308, assists-383, and putouts-877).

Individually, freshman Irene Weik has control of the most categories for the Lobos. Weik leads in fewest hits allowed (9), runs allowed (6), walks (3), earned runs allowed (6), and doubles allowed (1). Juniors Ashley Shartzer and Cassie Chavez each claim first in three categories. Shartzer leads in hit by pitch (5), putout chances (321) and putouts (295). Chavez leads in total plate appearances (145), assists (106) and at bats (127). Sophomore Iraina Ogas claims the top spot in saves (4) and games in relief (10). Finally, junior Ashley Perkins leads in wild pitches (10) and senior Kim Korsak has the conference's only catcher's interference.

SLAMMIN' SANDBERG: For the second week in a row, senior Sabrina Sandberg has been on fire at the plate. She hit .333 over six games 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 years, she compiled 5, 10 and 13 RBI, respectively. Her eight this weekend gives 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.

Senior Sabrina Sandberg has been a force to be reckoned with at the plate. She has lauched six home runs, including three last weekend.

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 RAMS: Colorado State comes to the Duke City at 22-9 overall and the leader in the Mountain West Conference. The Rams have had a week to rest from their road trip to Orlando, Fla. for the Rebel Spring Games where they went 7-2. Despite their great record, they have only played two games against ranked opponents. They played then-ranked No. 25 Texas State twice, winning game one 5-3 but losing game two, 2-1.

Colorado State has an extremely powerful offense loaded with eight women hitting over .300. As a team, the Rams are hitting .333 and holding their opponents to .235. They have never been shutout this year. Leading the charge is Ricki Walker, hitting a team-high .447. Walker started every game for the Rams and leads them in hits (42) and doubles (12). Stephanie Roberts is hitting .380 and leads the team in at bats (100) and runs scored (28). Leading the team in RBI (27) and home runs (8) is Brittany Huerta who is hitting .343. Other Rams hitting over .300 are Jennifer Gardner (.392), Jessi Strickland (.378), Kerry Farrell (.348), Brittany Burtner (.341), and Melissa Giesler (.333).

The Rams could be considered even stronger from the circle than at the plate. They have a team ERA of 2.22 that includes five shutouts and 181 strikeouts. Jaycee Wood holds the team's best ERA at 1.74 and is 6-2. Megan Masser follows with her 2.00 ERA and 4-2 record. Genevieve Kelly and Strickland complete the rotation. Kelly is 5-2 with a 2.33 ERA while Strickland is 7-3 with a 2.70 ERA.