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Lobos Take On Top Squads At Softball Fiesta Bowl
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/10/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 10, 2004

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FIESTA BOWL PREVIEW: The New Mexico softball team will compete in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament Feb. 13-15 hosted by Arizona State at both Farrington Stadium and the Rose Mofford Sports Complex. The tournaments is comprised of 18 teams from around the country. The tournament is round robin play and no champion will be crowned. The Lobos play on Friday at 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Gametime on Sunday is at 8 a.m. New Mexico will play Western Michigan, No. 20 Arizona State, Nevada, No. 18 Texas A&M and Syracuse, respectively.

OPPOSITION OUTLOOKS:
Western Michigan Broncos - Western Michigan will start its season Thursday with a single match against No. 20 Arizona State before competing in the Fiesta Bowl. This team will also face top-ranked opponents in No. 23 Fresno State and No. 2 Arizona.

The Broncos are the defending Mid-American Conference Tournament champions, having posted a 30-24 overall record in 2003. The squad's 17-7 league mark was good enough to earn WMU its first-ever West Division title. This year WMU is slated to finish second in the MAC West Division.

Western Michigan's roster features a pair of first team all-conference selections a year ago. Seniors Laura Stewart and Jaymie Voss return for their final seasons and are expected to once again be among the MAC's top performers. WMU returns 10 letterwinners and six starters, including six seniors.

Arizona State Sundevils - Arizona State, the tournament host, enters with a 5-3 record overall. ASU recently finished the triangular against Kansas and Northwestern with a 2-3 record. On the first and second days, ASU split its two games. Against Kansas, Ashley Werschky threw a one-hit shutout and Phelan Wright blasted a two-run home run to seal the win in the bottom of the sixth. Werschky tied a career-high for strikeouts with eight, allowing only a second inning double. Versus Northwestern, ASU went ahead 3-0 in the first inning when Valerie Sevilla hit an opposite field three-run home run to left field. But Northwestern came back with two unearned runs in the bottom of the first. It looked as if the Sun Devils would seal their second win of the day when Wright singled to centerfield, driving in two more runs in the top of the seventh for a 5-2 lead. However, the Wildcats scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to cap a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

On the second day, against the Jayhawks, pitchers Bre DeSanta and Desiree Serrano combined for a one hit shutout, while striking out 15 batters for the 1-0 win. Against Northwestern Wright hit a first inning two-run home run over the left field fence to put the Devils up 2-0. But the Wildcats would come back and tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second. Then tag on three more in the third and extend their lead to 8-2 with three more runs in the fourth inning off three hits and one Sun Devil error.

On Sunday, Kansas picked up their first win against ASU. The Sun Devils had several scoring opportunities throughout the game as they stranded nine runners on base, five in scoring position. ASU could not catch up as the Jayhawks jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the second inning.

In eight games played, the Sundevils have four players batting over .300 in Valerie Sevilla (.480), Kristen Farber (.370), Keri Pulcifer (.357), and Phelan Wright (.333).

The Sundevil pitching staff comes in strong with a team ERA of 2.56. Leading the way for ASU isDesiree Serrano with a 0.82 ERA followed by Bre DeSanta (2.23) and Ashley Werschky (4.34). Serrano is a perfect 2-0 in 17 innings pitched with opponents batting .158 against her.

Nevada Wolf Pack - The Wolf Pack kicked off their season last weekend in San Luis Obispo, Calif. in a tournament similar to the one New Mexico played in at Arizona. Nevada enters this tournament 2-3 just like the Lobos. Nevada also lost both games on Friday, won both on Saturday, and lost their final game on Sunday. The Wolf Pack played Mountain West Conference foe Colorado State (L, 6-3), Cal Poly Slo (L, 12-3), San Diego (W, 6-0), Sacramento State (W, 3-2), and UC Santa Barbara (L, 4-1), respectively.

Leading the offense for Nevada is a trio of women. Kristen Stith, Jiliane Hartfiel, and Cindy Elkins are all batting over .300 after five games. Stith leads the team with her .455 avg. while Hartfiel has the teams most RBIs at six. Elkins has scored a team-high five runs.

On the mound, Judith van Kampen and Tiffany Hoeft lead the charge with a 2.40 and 2.47 ERA, respectively.

Texas A&M Aggies - The Aggies opened their season Feb. 4 with one game against North Texas, which they won, 6-1. Texas A&M then went on to play a doubleheader at Stephen F. Austin where it took both games, 2-0 and 5-0. The Aggies now enter the Fiesta Bowl at 3-0.

The No. 18 Aggie Softball team swept Stephen F. Austin in a double header in Nacogdoches on Sunday. A&M used timely hitting and solid pitching en route to 2-0 and 5-0 wins at the Coy Simms Athletic Complex.

A&M's duo of senior Lindsay Wilhelmson and freshman Christina Smith kept the Ladyjack batters at bay with each throwing a complete game in their first appearances of the year. Wilhelmson started the first game and threw seven innings allowing no runs on four hits while striking out eight batters. Smith, in her first collegiate start, earned the win after throwing a complete game two-hitter without letting a runner reach third.

The Aggies took the first game with two runs that were a result of their speed and aggressiveness on the base paths. A&M swiped six bases, for the second game in a row, and put all the pressure on the 'Jack defense. In the first inning it was freshman Sharonda McDonald's speed that made the difference. McDonald reached base after slapping the pitch down the first base line and with her speed forced Brooke Chandler, the SFA first baseman, to commit an error. She moved around to third on another error by Chandler before scoring on a sacrifice fly to left field by junior Jana James.

A&M added their second run in the third inning when McDonald, after legging out an infield single and stealing second, scored on a single by James. Two runs is all Wilhelmson needed to capture her first win of the season.

It was all defense through four innings in the second game when junior short stop Adrian Gregory stepped to the plate with two runners on and broke a scoreless tie with a laser shot over the left field fence. Gregory's first home run of the season scored McDonald and freshman second baseman Joy Davis. McDonald reached base on a fielding error after Davis earned a walk.

A&M added two more runs in the sixth with a solo home run by designated player Kristen Gunter and a sacrifice fly to right field that scored senior Sherah Atkins from third. Atkins reached third on a gapper to right-center, her second triple in as many games.

The Aggies have a whopping seven players who are batting over .300. In order, they are Sherah Atkins (.667), Rocky Spencer (.667), Kristen Gunter (.429), Morgan Hebert (.400), Sharonda McDonald (.333), Laura Durham (.333), and Joy Davis (.333).

In the circle, the Aggies look unstoppable with a team ERA of 0.35. Christina Smith and Lindsay Wilhelmson both have 0.00 ERAs after tossing one complete game shut out apiece. Jill Weynand is not far behind with a 1.17 ERA and a complete game under her belt. The staff, having faced 66 batters, has allowed only eight hits and one run while striking out 20.

Syracuse Orangewomen - Syracuse is an extremely talented but young team. The Orangewomen are in just their fifth year of competition in the Big East Conference. They will open their season at the Fiesta Bowl.

Syracuse returns two of the three players who hit at least .300 last season. Rachel Park, a second-team all-region selection last season, led the squad at .382, while Tanya Rose, a two-time all-conference player, hit .316 to become the first Orangewoman to bat at least .300 in her first two seasons.

Defensively, the Orangewomen will be strong with the presence of last year's Big East All-Rookie pick in Alexis Switenko. The mound is Syracuse's most inexperienced position. The Orangewomen return two from last year's rotation including Haley Larsen, a junior college transfer who went 2-6 in 2003 with a 4.85 ERA.

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