New Mexico Lobos Invitational – At Lobo Field
Friday: 10 a.m., Buffalo vs. North Dakota State. Noon, North Dakota State vs. Idaho State. 3 p.m., Lobos vs. Buffalo. 5 p.m., Lobos vs. Idaho State
Saturday: 10 a.m., Buffalo vs. Idaho State. Noon, Idaho State vs. North Dakota State. 3 p.m., Lobos vs. Buffalo. 5 p.m., Lobos vs. North Dakota State.
For Saturday's games, please park at the SOUTH end of the field.
Sunday: 10 a.m., Buffalo vs. North Dakota State. Noon, Lobos vs. Idaho State.
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Home sweet home. That’s what Erica Beach and her New Mexico softball team is hoping for Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the Lobos return from some hard knocks in Arizona and California looking to spoon out some home cooking.
The intended victims on the scoreboard for the Lobos are Buffalo, North Dakota State and Idaho State – teams that aren’t exactly marquee names in D-I softball, but teams that are kicking out pretty good seasons so far. The Lobo Invite should be good competition for the 1-13 Lobos and provide good softball for Lobo fans.
“It’s a good mix. The teams coming in have been playing well,” said Beach. “Buffalo had a hot start. North Dakota State is always competitive and Idaho State is playing well. We have some challenges.”
The challenge for Beach’s Lobos is to pull the three major aspects of softball – hitting, pitching, defense – together at the same time. Beach says her Lobos have had flashes of excellent in all areas, “but we haven’t even put two cylinders together at the same time yet.”
The Lobos have lost ten straight games and have been run-ruled seven times. Beach says it’s time to make a positive move on the scoreboard.
“We need to start getting some wins under our belt,” said Beach. “Winning and losing can become a habit. We need to fight and scratch out some wins and get that feeling back. We have to break the cycle. That’s a big deal for us right now.
“We need to start firing on all cylinders at the same time. We believe we have the pieces, but they have to start doing it.”
The Lobo Invitational won’t be a cakewalk to victory – for any of the teams.
The North Dakota Bison might be coming to New Mexico to escape the cold, but they are coming to New Mexico hot. They could be the team to beat in the Lobo Invite.
The 9-5 Bison are coming off a 5-0 record posted in the University of Houston Invitational where they beat Nicholls State (3-1, 18-4), Columbia (9-4, 6-1) and Houston (3-1). Houston is 9-2 with its other loss to No. 12 Nebraska.
It was a needed turnaround for North Dakota State, which went to Houston off a 1-4 mark posted at the Florida State Classic. NDS lost three times to No. 10 Florida State (4-1, 9-0, 5-0) and split with Southern Mississippi (1-0 and 1-4). NDS also has a 4-1 win over No. 24 Notre Dame.
The win over Notre Dame should turn a few heads. Notre Dame’s (10-3) other losses were to Pac-12 schools. The Bison have seen some top-level pitching. They have seven batters hitting above .290 and their ace in the circle is Krista Menke (7-1) with a 1.62 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 56 innings.
The Buffalo Bulls are 8-3, but have lost three of five. They started off 6-0 with a 5-0 win over Texas Tech and a 4-3 win over Alabama State. They have seven hitters batting above .290 and have two pitchers with ERAs under 1.80. Tori Speckman has 47 strikeouts in 47 innings.
Idaho State is 6-5, but the Bengals have lost five of six and are in the same boat as the Lobos. They take to Lobo Field looking for some wins.
The Bengals also have been tested with two losses to No. 4 Arizona State. They have a 10-7 win over Utah State and an 11-5 win over Nevada – two Mountain West teams. They beat Grand Canyon 10-8. UNM lost to Grand Canyon 4-2.
The Bengals have seven batters hitting above .290 with Kacie Burnett at .515. The Bengals have no pitcher with an ERA under 6.50. The Bengal opponents have hit .321 in 11 games.
The three visiting teams all have seven hitters above .290. UNM has two: Naomi Tellez at .364 and Chelsea Anaya at .349. The next best Lobo average is Michala Erickson at .257.
Beach has battled to find productive sticks with 11 Lobos who have seen starts hitting under .235. Two hitters Beach is counting on – Mariah Rimmer and Jasmine Casados – are hitting .184 and .125, respectively. Those two Lobos have started all 14 games.
“We have a lot of young players thinking too much at the plate and we’re not coming up with the big, timely hits you need to score runs,” said Beach. “A lot of it is playing at the division I level, because the pitching is tougher at this level.”
The Lobos need to improve in the pitching circle, too. UNM’s pitching staff has a combined ERA of 8.83 with Carrie Sheehan with a 6.11 ERA. She has UNM’s sole win for a 1-6 circle mark. The Lobo opponents’ ERA is 1.50. UNM has given up 119 runs and scored 25. UNM is hitting .212 to the opponents’ .398.
“We’ve had the hard talks with them and they need to step up,” Beach said of her pitching staff. “We’ve pitched some good innings, but we haven’t sustained it.”
The Lobos immediate needs are simple enough to evaluate: hit a whole lot better, pitch a whole lot better. The Lobo defense has played well, but it has seen a lot of hard hit balls coming in its direction.
“We have to come out and start putting the puzzle pieces together,” said Beach. “This weekend is about being home and having the joy of playing at home on our home field in front of our fans.
“That gives us a new sense of energy. We have a young team and the point of our schedule is to learn things and grow as a team. We have to keep moving forward. The girls are excited to be home but now we need to start winning.”
|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)|