Feb. 3, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico softball team will open the 2009 season this weekend at home against Syracuse. The Lobos host the Orange for a three-game series starting Friday at 5 p.m. at Lobo Field. New Mexico enters its third season under the direction of head coach Ty Singleton. This weekend's schedule includes a single game Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. MT. The games will be online via all-access on www.GoLobos.com. The all-access feature provides live video and play-by-play audio along with gametracker.
Friday will be the third all-time meeting between the two schools. The Lobos swept both previous games. The series dates back to March 16, 2000, when New Mexico blanked the Orange, 6-0. The Lobos won the only other game with Syracuse on Feb. 15, 2004, 4-3.
The Lobos open the 31st season in UNM history Friday against Syracuse. New Mexico is 18-12 all-time in season openers and 10-10-1 all-time against teams from the BIG EAST. UNM has an all-time record of 789-760-3.
The Lobos enter the new season with an excitement and a revamped roster loaded with talent. New Mexico returns five players from last years squad that went 25-26 and was one win shy of their first winning season since 2004. Singleton has continued to rebuild the UNM program since taking over in August of 2006. Defensively, the Lobos could have their most talented team since Singleton's arrival and offensively UNM will enter the new year with multiple options to go along with an aggressive style.
New Mexico is led by two seniors Samantha Hughes and Analise Rubalcava along with juniors Katie Gilmore and Erin Brandow. Sophomore Tianna George is back after adjusting to the Division I level last year and could be one of the most talented shortstops in the conference. All five of the returners are dangerous hitters and the heart and soul of this program.
The pitching staff consists of Rubalcava and true freshman Danielle Castro. Both are untested at the Division I level but have improved during the offseason. Rubalcava, who started at third the last three years, has emerged as the ace but both will be relied on this season. Both pitchers have good movement and will improve as the season progresses.
Syracuse returns seven starters, two pitchers and nine letterwinners from last years team that went 21-32. The Orange went 12-10 last year in the BIG EAST and finished sixth in the league standings. Senior catcher Amy Kelley is back and is the most feared hitter on the roster. Kelly hit .346 last year with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. Kelly, who started every game, was named All-Big East second team and was a NFCA Northeast region selection. Senior shortstop Jamie Kelling is also back after she hit .320 last year in 53 games.
Junior Brittany Gardner is the returning ace of the Syracuse pitching staff. Gardner was 13-13 last year in 34 appearances. Gardner made 22 starts last year and finished with an earned run average (ERA) of 2.76 in 172.1 innings. She also recorded 128 strikeouts in 2008. Sophomore Angie Sagnelli is back after going 0-7 last year in 44.2 innings recording a 5.80 ERA.
Olympic Sport Passes are currently available along with softball season tickets. Call (505) 925-LOBO for tickets or visit www.GoLobos.com.