Lobos Kick Off Season With UC Santa Barbara, No. 16 Oregon State This Weekend
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/31/2005
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 31, 2005

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COMMERCIAL CAPITAL EARLY BIRD PREVIEW: The 2005 Lobos open the season with five games in Santa Barbara, Calif. as they enter the Commercial Capital Early Bird tournament hosted by UC Santa Barbara. The Lobos will take on the Gauchos three times while they face No. 16 Oregon State twice.

New Mexico, 30-35 last year, are returning just seven letterwinners, including three starters and one pitcher after losing 10 from last year's team.

Senior Ashley Perkins is the lone returner from last year's pitching staff. Perkins had an active fall, appearing in six of the seven games. She threw five complete games including two shutouts. In 33.1 innings pitched, Perkins gave up 28 hits, 14 earned runs, struck out 22 and finished with a 3.78 earned run average. Last year, Perkins went 12-8 after starting the season 8-0 and had a 3.03 ERA, the second best on the team.

Senior Ashley Shartzer, junior Cassie Chavez and sophomore Ryanne Hodgins are the three starters left over from the 2004 season. Shartzer lead the Lobos in the fall with a .450 batting average while Chavez rounded out the top three at .391. Chavez has already made it known that she is good with a bat. After just two years, Chavez has belted 15 home runs to move into a tie for third place in the New Mexico career record book. She has a career batting average of .291, which is just shy of making the top-10 list.

Santa Barbara kicked off its season last weekend with a doubleheader against second-ranked UCLA. The Bruins won both games, 5-1 and 9-1, respectively. The Gauchos were led by Jen Davis, Lindsey Herrin, Carly Harmon and Kendra Singley. On the mound in game one, Davis threw seven innings, allowing 13 hits, four earned runs and one walk while striking out five. In game two she went 2-3 at the plate. Herrin was 2-3 in game one, including a home run. In game two she suffered the loss after tossing 1.1 innings for six hits and five runs. Harmon finished game two for Herrin, pitching 5.2 innings for eight hits, four earned runs, five walks and three strikeouts. Singley went 1-2 with a homer and a walk in game two.

The Beavers return 12 players from last year's squad that made its sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regional Tournament, falling one victory short of an inaugural trip to the Women's College World Series after dropping the Regional championship game to No. 6 ranked Michigan.

Oregon State is one of seven Pacific-10 Conference teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, with conference foes California, Arizona, and UCLA ranking 1-2-3, respectively. OSU went 44-28 last year, finishing 7th in the Pac-10.

All-American Vanessa Iapala and Pac-10 honorees Kelly Petersen, Adrienne Alo, and Mia Longfellow should lead the Beavers this season.

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD: The Lobos kick off the season on Feb. 4 at the UC Santa Barbara Tournament where they will play three games against the Gauchos and two against Oregon State.

"We are doing the same thing we did last year," Newbern said. "We are coming out with the first two weekends being really tough by design. We have the possibility of facing five or six top-15 or top-20 teams in the first two weekends."

In the preseason poll released on Jan. 26, 2005, New Mexico found out it will face three teams in the top-20 with two more opponents getting votes. Texas, despite having a subpar 2004 going 24-25, is the highest ranked opponent coming in at 15th. Oregon State is right behind at 16th after it finished the 2004 season ranked 15th in the nation with a 44-28 record. Nebraska is the only other opponent this year that finished in the top-25 rankings, placing 14th after turning in a 45-17 record, but sits in the polls at No. 18.

Texas A&M received 64 votes, just one shy of placing 25th and Arizona State got 26 votes.

Senior Ashley Perkins begins her second and final year as a Lobo.

MWC PRESEASON POLL: For the third straight season, the San Diego State Aztecs have been selected to win the Mountain West Conference softball regular season title in a vote by the league coaches released today. SDSU, BYU and Colorado State each received two first place votes.

San Diego State, winners of two out of the last three regular season championships (2002, 2003), collected 22 points to capture the top spot in the poll. 2004 Mountain West Conference regular season champion Colorado State, and BYU tallied 20 points apiece to place second in the poll, followed by 2004 MWC Tournament champion Utah (12 points), New Mexico and UNLV (eight points each).

The Aztecs, coming off a 37-23-0 overall record (14-6-0 MWC) last season and a second place finish in the MWC Championship, return 10 letterwinners this season, including the 2004 Pitcher of the Year Celena Velasquez. The Rams, (40-14-0, 16-4-0 MWC) who captured their first-ever MWC regular season crown, as well as their first 40-win season since 1997 (51 wins) will be led by 2004 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Jessica Strickland, and 2004 all-MWC picks Kerry Farrell (senior, catcher) and Stephanie Roberts (senior, second baseman). 2004 MWC Player of the Year Ianeta Le'i (junior, first baseman) will lead six returning starters (12 letterwinners total) for the BYU Cougars, who are looking for their first regular season title since 2001.

Utah, 23-33 overall (8-12-0 MWC) in 2004, placed fourth in this season's poll after winning it third MWC Tournament title and advancing to the NCAA Regionals last season. The Utes return seven starters this season, including the 2004 MWC Championship MVP Brianna Gourdin (junior, pitcher) and all-MWC selections Lynsey Wall (junior, catcher) and Devina Quintero (sophomore, designated player). UNLV (25-35-0 overall, 7-13-0 MWC) and New Mexico (30-35-0 overall, 3-16-0 MWC) were picked to finish fifth this season after finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, last season. The Rebels return eight letterwinners, including all-MWC performer Pauline Glenn, while the Lobos welcome back seven letterwinners.

The 2005 season starts on Thursday, Feb. 3, with Colorado State facing Cal Poly and Nevada, Reno in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The 2005 conference season opens Friday, Apr. 1 and the 2005 Mountain West Softball Championship will be held at SDSU Softball Stadium on the campus of San Diego State University, May 12-14.

CHAVEZ HONORED: The 2003-04 Leslie Self Inspirational Award has been awarded to three recipients this year: Amanda Barnes from track and field, Cassie Chavez from softball and Nicole Overeem from swimming.

Started in 1997-98, the award is presented annually to UNM female student-athlete based on leadership, character, determination and commitment to team.

This year's recipients will be recognized before the men's basketball game on Monday, Jan. 31, against San Diego State. Presenting the award will be Randy Self.

Junior Cassie Chavez was recently honored as one of three Leslie Self Inspirational Award winners.

Carlsbad native Cassie Chavez, a junior, is the first in the Lobo softball program to earn the honor. After a challenging start to collegiate life, Chavez took the 2002-03 school year off as she and husband, Jeremy, celebrated the birth of their daughter, Keyannah. Since that time, Chavez has successfully juggled school, sports and parenthood. The Lobos' starting third baseman for the third straight season, Chavez led the team with eight home runs and 25 RBI last year. She also made the Honor Roll.

Also from Carlsbad, Amanda Barnes is a senior on the Lobo track team. In addition to being a three-time academic all-conference selection with a double major in applied math and biology, Barnes is a two-time Mountain West Conference outdoor champion in the shot put. She is the UNM indoor and outdoor recordholder in the shot put and the only female thrower in school history to win a conference title. And, somehow, Barnes has been able to accomplish all of this while raising her 6-year-old daughter,

A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Nicole Overeem is a senior co-captain on the Lobo swim team. Despite a rare disease that affects her joints, inflicts chronic pain and requires daily injections, Overeem is the school recordholder in 1000 free and 1650 free. She is an active participant in campus activities, serving as the president of the UNM Student Lettermen's Association and as vice-president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Leslie Self was the wife of Randy Self, who is the former President of the Lobo Club and owner of Spectator's Sports Bar and Grille. Leslie also passed away in 1998 after a long battle with cancer.

LOBO FIELD RENOVATIONS: Longhorn Construction broke ground Jan. 20, 2005 on the 2,835 square feet of renovations for the new softball facilities. The estimated $850,000 project, which is scheduled to be completed approximately April 25, 2005, will result in a new 1,740 square-foot fieldhouse, a 565 square-foot home dugout and a 530 square-foot visiting dugout.

The new fieldhouse for the Lobos will be located down the third base side of the field. It will house 20 lockers, chairs and a new bathroom with showers. Two offices and another bathroom with shower will be implemented to accommodate the coaching staff.

The home dugout will be attached to the fieldhouse for easy access. The visitors dugout will be located on the first base side of the field. Both the home and visitors' dugouts will sit 15 inches below ground.

The current building that houses the coaches office, located down the right field line, will be used as an officials changing room.

The schematic floorplan for the new fieldhouse and dugouts was designed by Gregory T. Hicks & Assoc., p.c. They are currently working on a proposed plan for a new batting cage and bullpen.