New Mexico Softball -- Mountain West Series -- at Lobo Field
Who: UNLV Rebels (17-23 7-5 MW) at New Mexico Lobos (12-27 3-9 MW)
When: 5 p.m. (MT), Thursday; 3 p.m., Friday; 1 p.m., Saturday
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By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The recent pattern the New Mexico Lobos have established in their Mountain West diamond wars is a good way to start a series, but not a good way to end one.
Especially with the UNLV Rebels -- one of the top hitting teams in the MW -- coming to Lobo Field.
The Lobos won Game One over Fresno State and Game One in the series with San Jose State. UNM scored 20 runs in the two wins.
But did the Lobos make those teams angry?
Fresno State came back to win the next two games by a combined score of 29-0 and San Jose State rallied to win two by a combined count of 15-1.
So maybe the message for Erica Beach’s Lobos in the upcoming three-game series with UNLV is to beat the Rebels at 5 p.m., Thursday – but don’t make ‘em mad. You really don't want angry UNLV bats walking up to the plate.
“UNLV is a very good team,” said Beach. “It will be a challenge for us. It’s nice to be home again playing in front of our fans and that always energizes us.
“Now, we have to go out and do the things needed to win a series. We need to pitch well and cut down on free passes. We need to come up with timely hits and we can’t help teams with defensive mistakes.”
The Mountain West race is at the halfway mark with 12 league games in the Lobos’ rearview mirror and an even dozen MW contests ahead of them. There is time and there are enough games remaining for the Lobos to make a charge. However, UNM (12-27-0) is in a MW hole at 3-9 tied for last place with 3-9 Nevada.
Simply put: the Lobos need to win the UNLV series and maybe even throw out a sweep.
That won’t be easy to do. UNLV comes to Lobo Field with a 7-5 mark and is in the top echelon of the league standings looking up at Fresno State (8-4), San Diego State (6-3) and San Jose State (6-3).
You have to figure the Mountain West champion will come out of that group and Fresno State and SDSU are the odds-on favorites. The Fresno Bulldogs have a small advantage by virtue of a 2-1 series edge vs. SDSU. It was a classic series with Fresno winning 2-0 and 5-4 and SDSU winning 2-0 in nine innings. However, the Aztecs have a one-game edge in the loss column.
The Rebels aren’t out of it. UNLV still is looking at three-game series with Fresno and SDSU. The Rebels hurt themselves dropping a series (1-2) in Vegas vs. Colorado State, but they are still in the hunt. They will come to Lobo Field motivated and – like the Lobos – looking to win or sweep the series. The Lobos and the Lady Rebels also play Friday and Saturday.
UNM still has three-game series with Colorado State, Utah State and Boise State and those teams have not established themselves as league bullies. However, UNM already has lost series (1-2) to the top three teams in the standings: Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State.
The Rebels come to Albuquerque with a solid .301 batting average with seven Rebels hitting .290 or better. Stefani Valentino is at .388, Samantha Juarez hits at a .378 pace and Garie Blando has a .373 average. Pauline Monreal is hitting .333 and has the most pop with 10 home runs. Emily Haslinger has nine dingers and UNLV has 35 as a team.
The Rebels are one of the top hitting teams in the conference but, like UNM, has been up and down in the circle.
Amanda Oliveto is the ace in the circle with 146.2 innings pitched with a 3.77 ERA and 109 strikeouts. She also has given up 90 walks and has hit 19 batters in posting a 9-13 record in the circle. Morgan Ettinger has a 5.4 ERA and Alex Petrolia is at 6.95. Oliveto has 20 starts and Ettinger and Petrolia have combined for 20 starts. UNM likely will see Oliveto in Thursday’s opener.
The Rebels have sweep a series with Nevada, lost series 1-2 to Colorado State and San Jose State and won their series with Boise 2-1 to form their 7-5 MW mark.
The Lobos are hitting at a .272 pace as a team with is good for the eighth spot out of nine teams. They are last in the Mountain in team ERA at 7.33, below UNLV’s 4.77 team ERA. SDSU and Fresno are the only MW teams with an ERA under 3.00. In MW games, UNLV carries a 5.52 ERA and UNM is at 8.82 in 12 league outings.
The four teams in the MW hitting above .300 are San Jose State, CSU, Nevada and UNLV, which throws out the obvious message. You need pitching to win.
Of course, hitting helps and both UNM and UNLV have pounded out some wins. UNLV has a .457 slugging percentage and UNM is at .400. The Rebels have 336 hits on the year and UNM has 266. UNLV has 173 RBIs and UNM has 137. The Rebels’ 35 homers top the league. UNM has 24.
These stats punch out a key for UNM vs. UNLV and ditto for the Rebs vs. the Lobos. Both teams need some solid work in the circle and can’t help the other team with walks. The Lobos are last in the Mountain giving up 204 walks and UNLV is next giving up 154 walks. In MW games, UNM has given up 92 walks and UNLV has allowed 43. Both teams have been hurt by walks, but no team more than the Lobos.
UNLV has given up 188 earned runs and UNM has given up 250 earned runs overall with the Rebs allowing 67 in league play and UNM allowing 97.
The Lobos have five active players hitting .286 or better. Chelsea Anaya (.299) is out for the season with a broken collar bone. Naomi Tellez is the top UNM bat with a .368 average with Brandi Heimburg at .330 and Willow Kalinen at .324. UNM is hitting .272 on the season, but only .255 in league games. UNLV is .337 in MW action at the plate.
Kalinen is hitting .500 in MW games going 6-of-12 and Heimburg is at .439 going 18-of-41. UNLV’s Valentino is the top hitter in MW games among batters with 20 or more at-bats with a .488 average.
A key for UNM’s pitching will getting past the top of the UNLV lineup without allowing too much damage. Juarez, Haslinger, Valentino and Monreal are 1-thru-4 in MW games in total bases. Blando is tied for the top spot in runs scored with 13 along with Juarez and Valentino. Monreal is No. 1 in RBIs for MW games with 17. UNLV has the highest slugging percentage in league games at .518 and has the most home runs with 12.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Mexico Lobos Softball -- 2014 Season 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)|
|9||Shelby Lucero||INF/UTL||R/R||5-3||Fr.||HS||Albuquerque, N.M. (La Cueva 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)|
|23||Naomi Tellez||C/INF||R/R||5-5||So.||1L||El Cajon, Calif. (Valhalla 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)|
|31||Shelbie Franc||OF||L/R||5-3||Fr.||HS||Camarillo, Calif (Adolfo Camarillo HS)|