Feb. 15, 2005
TROY COX CLASSIC PREVIEW: After traveling all the way to Tempe, Ariz. and getting rained out, the Lobos (0-5) will make the quick trip down I-25 to Las Cruces, N.M. to participate in the Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State. The Lobos open the tournament with Nebraska, a team ranked 18th in the NFCA poll and 22nd in the inaugural ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. After facing the Huskers at 3 p.m., New Mexico will square off with the Aggies at 5 p.m. in the first of four scheduled meetings this year. On Saturday, New Mexico will take on Loyola-Chicago at 5 p.m. followed by Mountain West Conference rival Colorado State at 7 p.m. The Lobos will wrap up the tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m. with Texas-San Antonio.
By the time New Mexico takes to the field Friday night, the Lobos may be a little rusty, not playing in 11 days. Juniors Cassie Chavez, Kristina Schmallen and sophomore Amy Ray have started the year well and should lead the Lobos in Las Cruces. Chavez' .357 batting average is a team-high, followed closely by Schmallen (.333) and Ray (.308). Chavez, after launching the team's first home run of the season, moves to sole possession of third place in the UNM career record books with 16 dingers. Schmallen, a junior college transfer, has a team-high six hits and four runs scored, also hit a homer.
Last year's strengths, pitching and defense, have not been so this year. The Lobo defense made 11 errors in the first five games. Last year it took the Lobos 12 games to reach that mark. The pitching staff has a team ERA of 5.35 after its 0-5 start. While the starting rotation was only 2-3 at this point last year, senior (then junior) Ashley Perkins won her first eight games.
In recent meetings, Nebraska (1-1) has held the advantage over New Mexico. The series is knotted at 5-5 but the Huskers have won the last five consecutive meetings. The last time they met, Nebraska shut out the Lobos with a 5-0 win on Feb. 23, 2002. The last time the Lobos bested the Huskers was March 9, 1984, winning 1-0.
Nebraska enters the weekend 2-1 after a three-game stint at the UNLV Desert Classic. The Huskers opened the Classic with a 5-0 loss to No. 9/14 Tennessee but evened out the day with a 5-0 win over Texas State. On Sunday, Nebraska upset No. 16/17 Oregon State with a 4-3 win.
Leading the Huskers at the plate is the quartet of Anne Steffan, Trisha Tannahill, Sheena Lawrick and Jessica Yoachim. Steffan holds a team-high .571 batting average, four hits and three runs. Tannahill and Lawrick are both hitting .500 while Yoachim holds a .429 avg. In the circle, Jordan Keen leads the way with a 1.00 ERA after her complete game shutout over Texas State. As a team, Nebraska is hitting .264 with a 3.00 ERA.
The New Mexico vs. New Mexico State series is an old one but a good one especially if you are a Lobos fan. New Mexico holds a 74-41 series lead winning the last 11 straight contests dating back to the 2002 season. Last year, UNM swept the four-game series, allowing the Aggies to score just one run in 28 innings compared to the Lobos 15 runs scored. The last time New Mexico State bested the Lobos was in 2002, taking a doubleheader on March 24 with scores of 4-3 and 9-1.
While the Aggies come into the weekend 6-5, they have won five straight since hosting UTEP and the Hilton Las Cruces Classic. Their most recent game was a 9-0 blanking of Missouri-Kansas City on Feb. 13.
As a team, the Aggies are hitting .295 with six players averaging over .300. Ashley Roszkos leads the team with a .419 avg. Sarah O'Neill holds a .400 batting average and leads the team in RBI (10), hits (14) and doubles (5). Kasey Sandlin is also hitting .400 but has only appeared in nine of the team's 11 games.
The pitching staff has an ERA of 4.57 with Sarah Seagraves holding the team-best ERA of 3.66. Seagraves has earned five of the six wins for NMSU after making nine appearances with seven starts. She has tossed four complete games, struck out 52 batters and walked only four in her 46.2 innings of work.
UNM has squared off against Loyola-Chicago twice in its 27-year history, once in 1996 and 1998. The Lobos won both of those games by a score of 11-5 and 8-0, respectively.
This weekend will be the first action the Ramblers have seen this year. Last year's team was 31-29 overall and 14-7 in the Horizon League. They return 10 letterwinners from last year's team including seven starters. Their top returners are Allison Scanlin and Mia Pangere. Scanlin held a team-high .364 batting average and led the team in hits (63), doubles (13) and walks (29). Pangere, the lone returner to the pitching staff, finished with a 3.17 ERA after going 10-14 in 33 appearances.
New Mexico has its first of three meetings with Colorado State at the Troy Cox Classic. Last year, Colorado State won all four contests which were played in Fort Collins after poor weather cancelled the twinbill scheduled for Albuquerque. Despite winning the last nine in a row, New Mexico still clings to a 39-31 series lead. The last time the Lobos downed the Rams was April 20, 2002 when they won 7-1.
The Rams are 4-3 and have not played since Feb. 6 at the Mustang Round-Up in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Colorado State is averaging .251 at the plate and an impressive 1.16 ERA. Lauren Cusick holds the team's best batting average at .381 and leads the team in hits with eight. Jennifer Garner is also swinging a mighty bat with her .368 avg. as well as Jessica Strickland and Stephanie Roberts, both hitting .318. Strickland holds the team's best ERA at 0.84. Genevieve Kelly earned three of their four wins behind her 1.02 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
Texas-San Antonio has met the Lobos once before. The Roadrunners slipped past the UNM with a 3-2 win on Feb. 17, 1996.
This year UTSA is 4-5 having won its last four games, hosting the Fastpitch Express College Classic. The Roadrunners started the season at Arizona State and Texas A&M. Since then, they handed UTEP a 10-2 loss, Centenary a 12-1 loss, North Texas a 9-0 loss and Texas A&M Corpus Christi a 5-0 loss.
Krystal Gibson has taken charge of the offense with a team-high .500 batting average. Gibson also leads the team in runs scored (9), hits (12) and doubles (4). Jessica Rogers has also established herself as a force to be reckoned with, hitting .344 and leading the team in at bats (32), home runs (5) and RBI (13).
Both Ursula Mares and Amanda Nikolenko have two wins for the Roadrunners. Mares has the better ERA (2.59) and has sat down 29 batters while allowing only six walks compared to Nikolenko's 3.50 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks.