April 23, 2009
THE RUBALCAVA FILE
Who: Analise Rubalcava
Honors: All-MWC (2007)
Born: February 26, 1987
Hometown: Chandler, Ariz.
Parents: Sonja & Andy Rubalcava
There is an artistic side to Lobo senior Analise Rubalcava that she likes to keep personal and semi-private. Well, except for when she steps on the pitching plate.
Then she goes public. Then the painter part of Rubalcava kicks in and there is a transformation at the plate. Suddenly, the strike zone and the surrounding areas become an untouched canvas and Rubalcava has the luxury of turning that space into a personal work of art.
She might throw a splash of color low -- a drop ball. She might throw a ribbon of color to the inside -- a curve. She might zing a blaze of yellow to the outside corner -- a fast ball. And so the painter paints and the pitcher pitches.
"I like to go up there and be creative with my pitches," says the product of Chandler Arizona, where she played for 10 seasons with the Arizona Hot Shots. "I consider pitching to be kind of like an artist, trying to do different things with your pitches, give different looks."
Said Samantha Hughes, Rubalcava's roommate and best friend: "She's the art freak of the team. She really likes eyes. She made a collage of eyes one time, cut them out of magazines and hung them all over her room. She also likes to draw eyes."
It's not that Rubalcava came to New Mexico to paint/pitch. She actually had her eyes on the infield. She was recruited as a utility infielder, but it probably was a good thing she brought with her the open mindedness to be moved around a bit.
The Lobos lost three young pitchers last season for a variety of reasons and Rubalcava, who last pitched seriously when she was 12, was asked to return to that hot spot and, well, paint the corners for coach Ty Singleton.
"She made a huge sacrifice for the team to accept the pitching role for us," said Singleton. "And she has been effective out there. That was asking a lot of her because she hadn't had a lot of experience at that position."
Said Rubalcava: "I was never promised a position when I first came here. My attitude was to do whatever the team needed and I guess that's what I'm doing."
As much as anything, Rubalcava was recruited for her stick, not her arm. Oh, she was a solid and versatile infielder for the Hot Shots and St. Mary`s High (Phoenix), but her prowess at the plate was proven and very much wanted by the Lobos.
As a UNM freshman, she hit .307, good enough to finish fourth on the team that season. As a sophomore, she roared to a .393 average and was named to the All-Mountain West Conference team.
In 2008, her junior year, Rubalcava fought an injury most of the season and hit only .184. She came back in 2009 hoping to turn things around. So far, it's been a solid season for the UNM senior.
"Anna has a great swing," said Singleton. "She's a competitor at the plate." Rubalcava is hitting .330 for a team that is hitting .286. She also has painted the plate for 114 1/3 innings.
"I never thought I'd pitch, but that's life," she said. 'Life throws things at you that you don't have control of and you have to make the most of it. That's how I look at this. I've been given a challenge and I have to look at that challenge as an opportunity."
Besides stepping up to the plate (pitching plate), when her team needed her, Rubalcava also is known for a bubbly personality and a winning smile. "I'm a people person," said Rubalcava.
"Anna feels things very intensely, which can be good or bad," said Singleton. "Sometimes she carries a bad moment too long. But she also knows how to use good moments to her advantage. And she often brightens the whole team with her smile and her personality."
Said Hughes: "She sometimes is hyper and sometimes she has her quiet moments. But she is a lot of fun to be around. She's out there."
Said Rubalcava. "I think Sammi (Hughes) thinks I'm crazy sometimes. Like when I put the eyes up all over my room. I got all these saying about eyes and put them up with pictures of eyes. When I draw or paint, that's just what I notice first."
Well, maybe that's what Rubalcava notices first when she paints a canvas with a brush. But as a pitcher, Rubalcava often is looking at something else to paint -- corners.