Sept. 29, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--The University of New Mexico softball team takes to the field this weekend, hosting El Paso Community College for a pair of games on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Eastern New Mexico University on Sunday, Oct. 2 in a single contest. Saturday's games begin at noon and 2 p.m. and action will commence on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Since classes started in late August, the Lobos have been hard at work with individual workouts and strength and conditioning. Official team practices for the fall started on September 19.
Second-year head coach Erica Beach is pleased with the effort her team is putting in this fall and has noticed the strides the squad has made in just a few weeks.
"Practices have been intense, fast paced, and energetic," Beach said. "The team is starting at a much higher level than last year and with the addition of four new players to the roster, we have more depth and versatility."
New Mexico finished 19-26 overall and 5-10 in the Mountain West last season in Beach's first year as head coach. It was a drastic improvement to the Lobos' record the previous year-- 11-37 overall and 1-14 in conference play--and a program-best record since 2008.
Last fall New Mexico hosted the National Pro All-Star team featuring Olympic medalist (Gold-'04, Silver-'08) and former Texas standout Cat Osterman. The Lobos were shut out by the pros, 11-0, but were still able to get four hits off of the All-Stars.
While the competition will be of a different caliber this fall, this weekend's matchups are still important in the process of building the New Mexico team Beach wants come spring. "We use these fall games to get people experience on the field, figure out our team's weak points, and see where we are strongest," Beach said. "I know this team will play hard every game we play this fall and hopefully incorporate the things we've been working on all fall to continue to improve their play."
Beach will start Kaela DeBroeck in the circle for the Lobos. The junior pitcher had nine wins and struck out 78 batters last year in 139.2 innings.
Newcomer Carrie Sheehan will also throw for the `Bos. Sheehan stands 5-foot-11 and garnered all-conference pitcher and all-state pitcher honors all four years at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, Nev.
Kari Gutierrez will also be in the circle for a few innings this weekend. The junior had nine wins and struck out 53 batters in 129.2 innings.
El Paso Community College
The Tejanas were 14-39 overall and 7-17 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference in 2011. EPCC has six sophomores and 14 freshmen on its roster. Sophomore Jennifer Belluscio is the only returner with collegiate pitching experience. Belluscio threw in 29 games, owning a 5.09 ERA and finishing the season with a 6-19 record.
Sophomores Pamela Acedo, Laura Sosa and Michelle Ruff are three other veterans who saw significant playing time last season.
Eastern New Mexico University
The Zias finished 13-41 overall and 3-18 in the Lone Star Conference in 2011. ENMU hit .267 as a team.
Seven returners anchor the Zias, including senior second baseman Katlyn Medrano who hit .323 and recorded 20 RBIs last season. Melanie Alderette also supplies the Zias with some experience, playing in all 54 games in 2011. The senior outfielder hit. .291 and led the team in stolen bases with 29.
Amanda Lale is the only returning pitcher for ENMU. In 26 appearances the junior recorded 23 strikeouts and two saves. Freshmen Alberta Medina, Vanessa Ramierez, Katie Ramsay and Amy Smith round out the pitching staff for the Zias.