Sept. 25, 2008
Saturday: Lobos vs. West Texas A&M (DH), Lobo Field, 2 p.m.
Down the road: Oct. 4, Lobos vs. Eastern NM, Lobo Field; Oct 11-12, at Arizona Fall Classic, Tucson.
By Richard Stevens
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- You might call them Ty Singleton's dirty dozen. And that's exactly what the New Mexico Lobos softball coach expects from his 12 players this fall = to get down and dirty and do whatever it takes to win a softball game.
"We're kind of a sand lot team right now and we take pride in that," said Singleton, who is entering his third season at UNM. "We have girls who can play a lot of positions and they'll be doing that."
Singleton said his 2008-09 Lobos will have a new look and a whole lot of new faces as he and his staff make a move to increase the team's competitive spirit and the emotional commitment to softball.
"Our competitive level is so much closer to where we want it to be and need it to be," said Singleton. "That is one of the reasons we have so many changes.
"I'm excited about what this group of 12 can do. What they can do at the plate. What they can do defensively. What they can do on the bases. Our range of fielding and so many of the little things are so much better than where we were the last two years.
"You can't judge mental toughness until they get into the fire and get tested, but everything I've seen so far has been outstanding. This is a group that wants to win, that wants to do what it takes to win. We have girls now who are passionate about softball and love to compete."
The Lobos get their chance to show that love with eight games on the UNM fall schedule. The Lobos begin their fall season this Saturday with a 2 p.m. doubleheader with West Texas A&M at Lobo Field.
The Lobos return only five players from last year's roster: Rubalcava, Hughes, George, Brandow and Gilmore. Gilmore was an All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2007-08 and Rubalcava made that elite squad in 2006-07.
The Lobos obviously need help in the circle this season. UNM lost senior Kelly Ninemire to graduation and three freshmen pitchers who came to UNM for the 2007-08 season are no longer with the team: Kyla Nelson, Madelyn Machac and Krystal Gutierrez.
Singleton said the loss of the young pitchers forces him to look to the junior college ranks for immediate help in the spring. For the upcoming fall season, the Lobos have freshman hurler Danielle Castro looking to get help from Rubalcava, George and true freshman Kerry Hodgins.
Singleton said Castro is experiencing some leg soreness and probably won't pitch Saturday, so UNM will go into the doubleheader with some of that "sand lot" mentality and throw Rubalcava, George and Hodgins against West Texas A&M.
The Lobos finished the 2007-08 season with a 25-26 mark, going 16-9 at Lobo Field. The top three returning hitters for the Lobos are Gilmore (.333), George (.267) and Hughes (.244). The Lobos hit .261 as a team last season.
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.