The Lobos return 11 letterwinners from last year's team that finished 27-25 overall and 3-15 in Mountain West play. New Mexico welcomes seven newcomers, including two transfers and five true freshman.
New Mexico's slate features a dozen opponents who finished 2013 with an RPI of 63 or better, and nine teams who made it to the NCAA Tournament, including Arizona State who participated in the Women's College World Series.
Beach is open and direct about the Lobos' goal: make it to post-season.
"We try to schedule tough opponents to give our team a challenge to start the season," Beach said. "We want to see how tough we can be against the best teams in the country and I know our younger players have what it takes to step up in big games.
"Playing the top teams in the country gives us both experience and strength of schedule. Our goal is to make it to post-season, so we need to play these teams to boost our RPI. We know we are capable of competing with anyone in the country and my theory is, if you want to beat the best, you have to play the best."
The Lobos went 5-1 in fall ball games, defeating Yavapai Community College and El Paso Community College twice each and splitting with Western New Mexico. All fall ball games were played at Lobo Field.
"Since we have such a young group this year, the fall was incredibly important for us to see where we stand," Beach said. "The coaching staff was very happy to see how versatile our athletes are and the speed and power hitting we've added to the lineup.
"We have a new arm in the circle, so it was great to see her work. I'm hoping to see improved offensive numbers this year as well as stronger output from the pitching circle. I am really looking forward to seeing how much our team grows over the next few months. I think we'll be a fun team to watch come spring."
For the third year in a row New Mexico opens its season at the Kajikawa Classic, Feb. 6-8, hosted by Arizona State, and do not have a competition-free weekend until it's Mountain West bye weekend, May 8-11.
The go-go-go pace ahead of UNM this spring is on Beach's mind, but is not a concern.
"The season can be grueling, so keeping our team healthy is our first priority," she said. "We have worked hard to incorporate recovery into our everyday routines. We also travel early on and then stay home for a few weekends -- including during spring break, so we hope that not having a long road trip during that time will keep our players fresh."
For the second-consecutive season, UNM faces the Sun Devils on its opening day. The Lobos and ASU take to the field at 7:30 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 6.
Arizona State finished 50-12 overall, losing 6-3 to Texas and 2-0 to Michigan at the 2013 WCWS.
The Lobos also play California, Northwestern, UC Riverside and Portland State in their opening weekend in Tempe.
New Mexico returns to the Grand Canyon State for its second weekend of the season, Feb. 14-16, participating in the Hillenbrand Invitational hosted by Arizona. The Lobos open with Georgia Tech and Arizona on Friday, face Grand Canyon and Tennessee State on Saturday and close with Alabama on Sunday.
The Wildcats and the Crimson Tide were NCAA Tourney participants last year. Arizona was ousted by Baylor in Regional play while Alabama advanced to Super Regionals before being eliminated by National runner-up Tennessee.
The Lobos head farther west for their third weekend of play, all the way to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Classic held Feb. 21-23.
UNM plays LIU Brooklyn, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and UCLA. The Bruins were a Regional participant last season.
New Mexico returns to Albuquerque for two consecutive weekends, Feb. 28-March 2 and March 7-11. Idaho State and North Dakota State are scheduled to come to Lobo Field the first home weekend while Detroit Mercy is set for the second home weekend. Final schedules for both weekends are in the works.
The Lobos' first mid-week contest is Tuesday, March 11 when they host UTEP for a doubleheader.
New Mexico travels to Stillwater, Okla., for its final tournament of the regular season -- the Cowgirl Classic hosted by Oklahoma State, March 14-15. The Lobos open the weekend with a doubleheader against the Cowgirls and close with a single game against South Alabama, who was an NCAA participant last season and finished with an RPI of 15.
The Lobos travel to Las Cruces, N.M., on March 19 for the first of two Rio Grande Rivalry contests of the season. The Aggies will make the trip to Lobo Field on April 29.
Mountain West play begins March 21-23 and the Lobos open at home with 2013 MW Champion San Diego State. The Aztecs finished 36-20 overall and 13-5 in conference contests last season. Their final RPI was 48.
From there, UNM alternates MW weekends at home and on the road.
The weekend of March 28-30 New Mexico is at Nevada, and April 4-6 the Lobos host Fresno State.
New Mexico's MW schedule continues at San José State (April 11-13), home against UNLV (April 17-19), at Colorado State (April 22-23), home against Utah State (April 25-27) and at Boise State (May 2-4).
Newcomer San José State made it to Regionals last season, but dropped games to Arizona State and San Diego State. The Spartans finished with an RPI of 57 and an overall record of 42-17.
The Lobos' bye weekend is May 8-10 and selection Sunday is May 11 with NCAA Regionals scheduled for May 15-18.
2013-14 Lobo Roster
|Hometown (Prev School)|
|1||Michala Erickson||INF||R/R||5-3||Fr.||HS||Peoria, Ariz. (Sunrise Mountain HS)|
|3||Karissa Haleman||INF/UTL||R/R||5-5||RSo.||TR||Peoria, Ariz. (Sunrise Mountain HS)|
|4||Brandi Heimburg||OF||L/L||5-3||Jr.||TR||Phoenix, Ariz. (Yavapai Community College)|
|6||Gabrielle Stacey||INF/UTL||L/R||5-0||Jr.||TR||Winslow, Ariz (Winslow HS)|
|7||Willow Kalinen||OF||L/R||5-8||Fr.||HS||Scottsdale, Ariz (Pinnacle HS)|
|10||Carrie Sheehan||P||R/R||5-11||Jr.||2L||Las Vegas, Nev. (Cimarron-Memorial HS)|
|11||Mia Hignojos||INF||R/R||5-3||Jr.||2L||Odessa, Texas (Odessa HS)|
|12||Mariah Rimmer||OF||R/R||5-4||So.||1L||Riverside, Calif. (Arlington HS)|
|13||Lauren Soles||P||L/L||5-7||So.||1L||Simi Valley, Calif. (Simi Valley HS)|
|16||Chelsea Anaya||INF||L/R||5-2||Sr.||3L||Pacolma, Calif. (Chatsworth HS)|
|21||Jordan Sjostrand||INF||R/R||5-5||Sr.||2L||Albuquerque, N.M. (Rio Rancho HS)|
|22||Tess McPherson||P||R/R||5-6||RFr.||TR||Scottsdale, Ariz (Notre Dame Prep HS)|
|24||Ally Hakeem||C||L/L||5-9||Sr.||3L||Albuquerque, N.M. (St. Pius X HS)|
|25||Lisa Rodrigues||P||R/R||5-8||So.||1L||Brentwood, Calif. (Heritage HS)|
|27||Jasmine Casados||INF||R/R||5-3||Fr.||HS||Albuquerque, N.M. (La Cueva HS)|
|29||Nykilah Torres||OF||R/R||5-7||Jr.||2L||Albuquerque, N.M. (Valley HS)|
|31||Shelbie Franc||OF||L/R||5-3||Fr.||HS||Camarillo, Calif (Adolfo Camarillo HS)|