June 16, 2005
Prior to the start of the 2005 season, it appeared the Lobos would return 11 lettermen from the 2004 team. But that was not the case as they lost four athletes to injuries, ineligibility and quitting.
On Feb. 4 when the Lobos opened the season in Santa Barbara, Calif., eight newcomers and just four starters from the 2004 team filled out the roster. The youthful inexperience showed immediately. New Mexico opened the season with a seven-game losing streak and lost 14 of their first 17. Most of the games were close, with UNM even in position to win many of them up until the final inning or two.
Extremely tough scheduling and poor weather also played a major factor in the slow start for UNM. To start the season, the Lobos were scheduled to play four teams that finished the 2005 season ranked in the top-25 by the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN/USA Softball polls, including three in the top-10 for a total of five games. Two of the games got rained out and the Lobos lost a total of 10 games on the season to poor weather or traveling conflicts. They were also slated to play five tournaments in consecutive weeks all on the road.
All the Lobos needed was a little home field advantage to spark them into action. New Mexico opened the season at home on March 12 against Indiana State and won both games of a doubleheader. Playing the next two weeks at home, the Lobos posted a 7-1 record. Even more impressive, senior Ashley Perkins and junior Katie Gregg recorded 16 consecutive scoreless innings and 28 of 29 innings overall. Perkins was rewarded with the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week award.
Freshman Lindsey Elcess bounced back from a broken foot to help the Lobos end the non-conference season and guide them to their best MWC start since 2000, including its first sweep of San Diego State in five seasons. Elcess went 8-for-18 (.444) at the plate, winning the MWC Player of the Week honor. In six games, she hit five home runs and a double, while tallying eight RBI and seven runs scored. She moved her batting average up from .200 to .316 with her performance that week.
Finally the luck turned the Lobos way as freshman Ashley Allen, who converted from second base to left field while on the road trip, and Gregg triumphed over the Utes for a much-needed win on May 1. Gregg, who was used sparingly during the beginning of the season, finished strong, starting six of the final eight games, allowing just 34 of her 128 hits and seven of her 45 earned runs. Allen, who went 2-2 and knocked in the game-winning run against Utah to end the losing streak, had 12 of her 24 hits and six of her 12 runs after switching to the outfield.
The Lobos ended the regular season at UNLV and San Diego State, picking up one win in San Diego, their first road win of the season. Gregg earned the win, her eighth and final win of the year.
New Mexico kicked off the MWC Championships in San Diego against Utah. Gregg threw a terrific game for New Mexico, allowing just three hits, no earned runs and striking out one in her complete-game effort but the Lobos lost 1-0. Then they took on sixth-seeded San Diego State, getting their second road win of the season, a 3-2 win in 13 innings. The win set them up against eventual champion, BYU. The Lobos held tough, forcing extra innings but fell 2-1 in 10.
ELCESS MAKES NFCA ALL-REGION TEAM: Freshman Lindsey Elcess was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-West Region team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Elcess, who missed a majority of the first two months of the season with a broken foot, finished the year hitting .256 with five home runs and 12 RBI. Following her return from the injury in late March, Elcess has maintained a .308 batting average with a team-high three home runs and nine RBI.
The All-Region teams honor student-athletes from nine NFCA regions for a total of 241 players from 117 different teams, filling out the first and second regional teams. In the West Region, 12 Mountain West Conference members were selected to the teams including Elcess, the Lobos sole representative.
Perkins was 1-1 after making two appearances in relief for New Mexico. She posted a perfect ERA, allowing no earned runs in 12 innings of work. Perkins gave up 10 hits and four walks while striking out nine.
HODGINS LISTED TO ESPN THE MAGAZINE ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM: Sophomore Ryanne Hodgins has been honored on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI First Team in her first year of eligibility. Hodgins is one of just two athletes on the 11-player first team to hold a 4.0 GPA.
A Journalism/Mass Communications major with a Spanish minor, Hodgins finished the year with a .307 batting average and a team-high 179 at bats. She also led the team in hits (55), triples (3) and stolen bases (6). Hodgins is one of five Lobos to play in all 50 games this season, starting all of them in right field.
Hodgins also ranks among the best in the Mountain West Conference. She is fourth in at bats, tied fourth in triples, tied sixth in hits and tied seventh in stolen bases.
SCHMALLEN HONORED ON ALL-MWC TEAM: Junior Kristina Schmallen was the only Lobo to make the All-Mountain West Conference Softball team, which is selected by the league's six head coaches. The conference's awards were announced in conjunction with the start of the Mountain West Conference Softball Championship in San Diego, Calif.
CHAVEZ CARVING OUT A LEGACY: Junior Cassie Chavez still has one year of eligibility left yet she has already placed herself in six major categories in the New Mexico career recordbook. She is currently third in home runs with 19, trailing second place by seven. She is fourth in most assists (376) and fifth in highest slugging percentage at .466. Chavez is tied for fifth in most times hit by a pitch with eight and seventh in most double plays turned (11). She is eighth in most doubles hit with 28.
As long as she continues the pattern of her last three years, Chavez should break into the top-10 in eight more categories. She needs just three RBI, four total bases, five sacrifices and seven runs scored to make the each of the respective top-10s. She needs to start 27 games next year and collect at least 28 hits to make the top-10 of those records as well as 46 games plated and 104 at bats. In all of these categories, Chavez has recorded more than the number necessary to make the top-10 in her least productive season.
SENSATIONAL CAREER FOR SHARTZER: Senior Ashley Shartzer wrapped up her career in the cherry and silver as arguably the best defensive player in the program's history. Shartzer holds the career records for most chances (1,285), most putouts (1,153) and most double playes turned with 47, which is at least 28 more that any other Lobo. Shartzer also holds the eighth best fielding percentage at .984 percent (1,153-111-21).
In 2005, Shartzer set a new season record for most double plays turned with 18 and is on the list two other times, occupying second and third after turning 15 double plays in 2004 and 14 doubles plays in 2003. She also placed herself on the seasonal list for most chances at fourth with 479. Shartzer is also on the list for most chances, sitting third after having 500 chances. Shartzer is also fourth after this year for most putouts in a season with 448. She made the list last year, taking over third with 462 putouts.
PERKINS PROVING PHENOMENAL: Senior Ashley Perkins has proved she is one of the best pitchers to play at New Mexico. Having only competed for two years after transferring in from Washburn University, Perkins has placed her name in 13 different career records lists including setting two new program bests. Perkins currently holds the lowest opponent batting average at .239 and averages the most strikeouts per seven inning game at 5.90. This season, Perkins averaged 6.19 strikeouts per game for the fifth best season total in the program's history. She also placed sixth for the lowest opponent batting average this season at .259 and set the record last year with a .215 avg. Perkins also moved into the career and season record books for most strikeouts, sitting down 128 this season, which is the eighth most for a season. Her career total is 227, leaving her in ninth place.
CONTINUING THE COACHING TRADITION: When she retired, it was made known that Susan Craig was one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I softball. Craig racked up 672 wins between 1977, when she got the program started, and 2002. She sits 28th all time and has a win percentage of .534.
What may not be known is that current head coach Kim Newbern is well on her way to exceeding her predecessor. Newbern, who took over for Craig following the 2002 season, had 264 career wins after a six-year stint at Washburn and her first two years at New Mexico. With a .590 win percentage, she currently ranks seventh among Div. I coaches who have coached for at least five years but less than that at a Division I institution.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMPS HERE: The sophomore slump is an unfortunate tradition that happens in all sports. But somehow, sophomore Ryanne Hodgins avoided one. She led the team in at bats (179), hits (55), triples (3) and stolen bases (6-7). Hodgins was one of five Lobos to start in all 50 games this year. She has the second best batting average at .307 and scored the third most runs with 20. What is even more impressive about Hodgins' numbers after 50 games this year is that she had a better average (.242), more runs scored (15), hits (38), doubles (1), triples (3), RBI (6) and stolen bases (5-5) than she had all of last year through 54 games.
ROCKY ROAD: New Mexico has been extremely unlucky on the road this year. They are 2-15 at opponents parks and 3-12 when playing at a neutral site. Last year, the Lobos were 7-18 on the road and 14-10 at neutral sites. Head coach Kim Newbern is now 15-43 on the road in her career at UNM and is 28-42-1 at neutral sites.
LOVIN' LOBO FIELD: The Lobos love playing at home. Not only are they getting a brand new clubhouse with attaching dugouts, they are also 11-7 at Lobo Field this year. At one point, New Mexico had won five consecutive at home, which saw three shutouts over that span with 28 of 29 scoreless innings dished out by the Lobos.
IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT: The Lobos have tinkered with their offensive and defensive lineup but a few have always remained the same. In all 50 games, junior Cassie Chavez has started at third base while senior Ashley Shartzer has started at first base and sophomores Amy Ray and Ryanne Hodgins have been in center and right field, respectively. The only other Lobo to play in all 50 games was sophomore Liz Young, who started 49 as the catcher and one as the designated player.