March 4, 2012
New Mexico Lobo Softball Invitational -- Lobo Field
Sunday: Utah Utes 6, New Mexico Lobos 1
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobo Village to the West of Lobo Field probably has a dent in a wall - or maybe a hole in the roof.
The softball that Shenise Cox mashed in the bottom of the first inning that pushed the Lobos to a 1-0 lead was simply crushed. OK, it didn't reach the Lobo Village, but it cleared the bleachers behind the left-field fence and rolled off toward Gallup. It was the senior's 10th homer this season.
"I've hit some pretty far in practice, but that was probably the furthest I've hit one in a game," said Cox.
For sure, it was the Lobos best blast of the day for a good reason and a bad reason.
It was a monster mash -- good. It also was the first and last hit of the day Sunday as Utah's Generra Neilson handcuffed the No. 24 ranked Lobos for a one-hitter that sent 10 Lobos back to the dugout as strikeout victims.
"We've played that pitcher before. She knows how to work us," said Cox. " My hat goes off to her. She did really good."
The first inning was a bit of fool's gold for Lobo fans as Cox's blast suggested the Utes would see what every other opposing team has seen from the Lobos - a lot of hits and a lot of runs.
Instead, the Lobos had only two runners left on base in the seven-inning game. The Utes also left two runners on base, but did a good job pushing runs across when they did reach base.
"The Utah pitcher was definitely effective," said Lobo Coach Erica Beach. "She moves the ball and hits her spots. We give her a lot of credit. She threw a great game against us and obviously kept us off balance.
"Our approach at the plate was not what we needed to do. We'll put the ball in play again, hit it hard. I'm not worried about our offense."
The ending on Sunday was sour, but the Lobos went 4-1 in their Lobo Invitational with two-game sweeps of North Dakota and Cal State Bakersfield. UNM is 17-3 on the year and the loss wasn't really a bad one as Utah of the prestigious Pac-12 stands 15-3.
Kaela DeBroeck got the start and picked up her first loss of the season. She gave up six runs and seven hits in dropping to 10-1 on the season. Nielson is 10-0.
"I think she moved the ball pretty well today," Beach said of DeBroeck. "She had a couple of balls drop in (for hits) and a couple of bad breaks here and there. I wasn't disappointed in her pitches.
"We'll stay focused on the improvement we need to make with her and not let this be a speed bump on the road to where we need to be."
Said DeBroeck: "I felt like my ball was moving well. They got a couple of hits, but that's the game of softball."
DeBroeck held the Utes scoreless until they pushed across two runs in the top of the fourth. Utah added four in the sixth and Nielsen shut out the powerful UNM offense for six consecutive frames. Carrie Sheehan took over the mound in the sixth inning and faced the final four Utah batters.
"It's a little disappointing not to close it out, but going 4-1 this weekend, we are still playing good ball," said Beach.
The Lobos have rolled out 4-1 records in three straight tournaments, losing the final game in all three. Cox says that sometimes a positive can come out of a loss.
"For one, we know what we did wrong and we can work on that and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Cox.
Said DeBroeck: "(A loss) brings different things to light on what to work on. We're not even at our full potential, which is a lot of fun to think about."
The Lobos next game is Friday at 5 p.m. (MT) at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Cox said she expects the Red Raiders to see something on the Lobos' backs besides a number.
"We have a target on our back," said Cox. "The better we do, the bigger the target is. As a Lobo, we've always been the underdog. I feel like being ranked 24 and getting in the Top 25 gives us a lot of confidence."