Feb. 28, 2012
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Lobo softball is the No. 24 team in the nation according to this week's USAToday/NFCA Div. I top-25 poll. New Mexico received 65 points in the poll.
The Lobos competed in the Cathedral City Classic Feb. 23-26 in Palm Springs Calif., finishing the tournament with four wins and one loss.
The team's most impressive outing of the weekend was its opening game on Feb. 23 against last week's No. 16 Texas A&M. UNM pounded out 14 hits in a 15-3, six-inning rout of the Aggies. The Lobos added wins over Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis, and dropped their final game of the Classic to Cal Poly on Feb. 26.
This is the first time the Lobos have been ranked since May 12, 1999 (20th) when Susan Craig was at the helm of the program. That year, New Mexico finished 42-14.
Second-year head coach Erica Beach is proud of her team's success in the young season and views the ranking as an important step in achieving the goals of the 2012 team.
"It is very exciting for this team to break into the top 25," Beach said. "The girls have worked very hard for this and have stepped up against some challenging competition. We still have so much left to accomplish so I think this will further motivate us to keep improving."
The Lobos are the lone Mountain West affiliate in the top-25 and no other team in the conference is receiving votes.
New Mexico is tied for its best start in program history, compiling a 13-2 record to start the 2012 season and matching exactly the start of the 1984 Lobo softball team.
Susan Craig was in her seventh season as the Lobo head coach that year and the season began with nine-straight wins before dropping a game, 4-0, to Central Arizona. The '84 team then won its next four - just like this year's Lobos - and then dropped its 15th game of the season, 3-1, to Oklahoma State--just like the 2012 team, to hold a 13-2 record.
The 1984 Lobos went on to lose their 16th and 17th games to Nebraska and Kansas, but finished the season at 28-14 and 9-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
New Mexico hosts the UNM Invitational this weekend - the second home tournament of the season for the Lobos.
If UNM wins Friday afternoon against North Dakota, Beach and her squad will set a new program record for best start to a season.
"You can never try to make history," Beach said. "It's just something that happens when you put the work in, do the right things and things go your way. I couldn't be more proud of this team. They have worked harder than they ever thought possible and have finally begun to see that hard work pay off."