Oct. 21, 2009
Up Next: Season opener Feb 12-14 at Texas State Tournament
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In evaluating a fall season in which his young Lobos got a solid dose of game-winning confidence, Lobo coach Ty Singleton liked what he saw.
But there is a slight twist to the sights on the diamond that Singleton and his staff judged as his Lobos raced to a 7-1 fall mark with the only blemish a 5-0 decision to powerful, eight-time NCAA champion, Arizona.
Singleton liked what he saw because it promises to bring him even better views come February when the University of New Mexico enters the diamond wars that count.
"I thought we played well and did some really good things," said Singleton, in his fourth season at UNM. "You can see our potential, but we expect and need improvement in all aspects of the game.
"The team believes it is going to be good and I believe we are going to be good. That's important. But a lot of that depends on what they do between now and February and how hard they continue to work during the season."
Singleton went into UNM's eight-game fall schedule hoping to see the skills and the mentality he plans for his Lobos to take into the 2010 regular season. What Singleton envisioned was a play-smart, play-aggressive Lobo team that would take advantage of all the singular aspects of softball that can be fisted together to form a powerful team.
He wanted to see a team skilled enough and savvy enough to find advantages in bunting, base stealing, bat control, on-base percentage. His plan for the 2010 season is to field an aggressive UNM team with the skills and speed to distort a defense. He wants to make the enemy shift and move in anticipation of what Lobos can do at the plate and on the bases. He wants his Lobos to be creative opportunists in 2010.
1 Cristin Anderson - Sr.
33 Jordyn Bledsoe - Fr.
16 Erin Brandow - Sr
9 Stefanie Carramusa - Fr
15 Danielle Castro - So
23 Shenise Cox - So
2 Kaela DeBroeck - Fr
22 Shaunte Duarte - Sr.
18 Jessica Garcia - So.
35 Samantha Gatson - So.
24 Katie Gilmore - Sr.
8 Sheryl Guillermo - Fr.
4 Kari Gutierrez, Fr.
21 Kerry Hodgins - So.
7 Cassandra Kalapsa - Fr.
12 J. Lujan-Dresslar - So.
3 Andria Martinez - Sr.
He saw that foundation in the seven fall wins over Odessa, Luna Community College, Central Arizona, Arizona Western and Cypress. Now, he wants to see the work ethic to bring it all together at a higher level.
"A lot of the things we did well this fall don't show up on a stats sheet," said Singleton. "But I believe your work ethic is something that shows up on a stats sheet and in the win-loss column. We have some work to do."
A key element for any softball program is the consistency and production on the pitching plate. Singleton said he was "satisfied" with that effort -- for the fall. The spring is a different ball game.
"To be honest, we didn't think the pitchers reported in good pitching shape," he said. "We told them that. We told them what we expect. The program made a commitment to them and now they have to make a commitment to the program and to their teammates.
"They (pitchers) beat teams this fall they should beat. Now, they have to prepare and train at a higher level to beat teams we need to beat in order to earn respect."
The Lobo mound has been strengthened and revamped with the additions of three new faces: Kari Gutierrez, Samantha Gatson and Kaela DeBroeck. There is enough talent and variety in these arms to give the Lobos significant improvement on the pitching plate.
The obvious loss for Singleton's Lobos from 2009 is the bats of Samantha Hughes and Analise Rubalcava. The two All-Mountain West picks pushed their way up numerous hitting records at UNM and were noted for their clutch performances.
Singleton said he's not worried about offense. He returns Shaunte Duarte, who hit .315 last season, and Cristin Anderson, who hit 303. Senior Katie Gilmore has been one of UNM's more consistent hitters over her career and hit .286 in 2009. Shenise Cox hit .290 last season and Jessica Lujan-Dresslar batted .281. He has talented young bats, too.
"I think we'll be good offensively. We'll have a good lineup with speed at the top and bottom," said Singleton. "Our style of play will be to go out there and do whatever it takes to manufacture runs."
A strength come spring should be the Lobos' depth. Singleton said there is a heated battle in the infield and outfield for starting jobs, although he admits a couple of Lobos are leading the pack.
The mound work should be the committee of three. There are two catchers battling for the go-to job behind the plate: Erin Brandow and Jessica Garcia. This should be an interesting race. Both these Lobos are good and both will see action in doubleheaders or in weeks with a heavy load of games.
Singleton said there are three players battling for time in the middle infield (short & second): Anderson, a senior, and freshmen Jordyn Bledsoe and Stefanie Carramusa. The battle at third base is between the versatile Bledsoe and Duarte, a senior. At first base, Gilmore is being pushed by Cox.
The outfield is loaded with talent and it's probable that the infield battles will influence the eventual lineup on the deep grass. Lujan-Dresslar and Danielle Castro look strong in the outfield, but Singleton says he expects that battle to be hotly contested this season.
In the fall exhibition season, Anderson, Carramusa, Hodgins, Gilmore, Garcia, and Castro all hit .290 or better with Hodgins at .384 and Castro on top with a .400 average. Anderson scored 10 runs with four RBIs. Cox scored six runs with five RBIs. Garcia had six RBIs and Castro had five.
"We're excited about the upcoming season," said Singleton. "We have a lot to prove this year and we have to do it every game. That means we have to do it in every practice, too."
New Mexico opens up the 2010 season Feb. 12-14 at the Texas State Tournament in San Marcos.