STEVENS: Lobo Samantha Hughes Might Be The Complete Package at The Plate
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/01/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 1, 2009


Samantha "Sammie" Hughes
Year: Senior
Stats: .400 Avg.; 5 Homers; 28 Runs; 13 Doubles
Born: Jan. 3, 1987
Hometown: Albuquerque
Parents: Rocky & Chris Hughes

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com If you look at the stats created by Lobo Samantha Hughes and a softball bat, you can see why the New Mexico senior approves of Lobo coach Ty Singleton's latest adjustment in where he likes to see Hughes play ball.

Not that Hughes has always jumped for joy when moved around by her coach. One move made the talented senior as mad as "Carrie" on prom night. We'll get back to that story.

For now, Hughes is in total agreement that she should be dropped out of the leadoff position and into the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. Because Hughes likes to swing the bat - as soon as she can.

"I don't think I'm a very good leadoff because I like swinging at the first good pitch," said Hughes. "As a leadoff, you are supposed to watch a lot of balls, so your team can see the pitches and the pitcher, the way she moves.

"I can do it sometimes, but I tend to swing pretty soon."

Hughes is the type of hitter you want to swing "soon" and often. Her stats at the plate are All-Mountain West caliber. She leads UNM in average (.400), in doubles (12), in home runs (5), in total bases (72) and in slugging percentage (.655). She goes into MWC play leading the league in doubles and listed No. 2 in average.

She does not lead UNM in walks, which is really another reflection of her hitter's mentality at the plate. Of the seven Lobos with more than 80 at-bats, Hughes has the fewest walks with five. To give that number perspective, here are some at-bat/walk figures: Hughes, 110 at-bats, 5 walks; Analise Rubalcava, 86 at-bats, 25 walks; Erin Brandow, 40 at-bats, 11 walks.

Yeah, Hughes is a swinger and her .400 average is a solid jump from the .244 average she posted as a junior.

"I think the difference is just confidence," said Hughes. "I can go take a million reps every day in the batting cage, but if I don't step in the box during a game and be confident, all those reps don't matter.

"I have the mentality that I know I can do it rather than I think I might do it. If I strikeout, I try not to get upset, but try to figure out what I need to do better next time."

Hughes has the mentality and the pop to drive in runs and that is why Singleton said he'll probably keep Hughes in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. Probably her best aspect as a leadoff hitter is that she tops UNM in another category: steals. Her 13 steals also tops the MWC.

So, is Hughes the complete package at the plate? Pretty much. She has power, speed and can lay down a bunt or slap to get on base. Just don't ask her to walk and don't ask her to move from center field back to the infield.

Not that she liked it when Singleton first moved her from first base to center field.

"I was so mad. I hated the outfield," said the La Cueva High product, who won a state title in 2005. "I would come to practice mad every day. I think it was from growing up and having to play the outfield where you never got any balls.

"Now, I love it and I would never want to go back to the infield."

Hughes said her love of softball came from watching her father (Rocky) and mother (Chris) play slow-pitch and from growing up playing softball with her older sister. She said she decided to stay in Albuquerque and be a Lobo after a too-long trip with an Albuquerque-area club team that made her realize she was a home girl.

"We were gone away for so long, about three weeks, that I realized I didn't want to go away for school," said Hughes. "I wanted to play around my family and on my visit (to UNM) I just really got along with all the players and knew this was where I wanted to be.

"At first, I wanted to play basketball in college, but my dad wanted me to play softball and I had put so much time into softball that I figured that was the way to go."

Hughes and Rubalcava are the only two seniors on this year's squad. They also are roommates.

"I would like to see some more wins, but I'm having fun," said Hughes. "It's nice to go through my senior year with Analise.

"I'm going to miss softball, but I won't miss everything. In the fall, we had to get up at 5 a.m. three days a week. I'm not going to miss that. But I'm going to miss the competition and I'm going to miss my second family of girls.

"These girls are my family. I'll miss playing with Analise because we came in as freshmen with seven, eight other girls and now it's just us. She's been a big part of everything for me."