April 24, 2013
New Mexico Lobos Softball --- at Lobo Field
Wednesday: New Mexico 6, UTEP 5; New Mexico 4, UTEP 2
Up Next: Lobos at Fresno State, May 3-4-5
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Let's clear something up right away. This wasn't one of those fun-day afternoons where a coach dropped everyone's name into a hat and you got to pick your position when your named was plucked out.
It just looked that way Wednesday afternoon as Erica Beach's walking wounded called the New Mexico Lobos softball team battled past the UTEP Miners 6-5 and 4-2 at Lobo Field.
"I don't think anyone is in the position that they really play in the infield," said Beach. "We are fighting a lot of adversity, a lot of obstacles. I'm super proud of how they fought through that.
"They are not using anything as an excuse. They are just fighting hard. It makes me a proud coach."
In game two vs. UTEP, the UNM infield (third to first) went Karissa Haleman, Mia Hignojos, Kaity Ingram, Ally Hakeem. A few weeks ago, none of those players were in those spots. But the injury bug has hit this team hard and Beach has had to make some adjustments.
On Wednesday, against a UTEP team now riding a 15-game losing streak, those adjustments were winning adjustments.
"Today was an absolute team win from pitching to fielding to (playing) crazy positions and everybody getting the job done, and hitting," said Kaity Ingram. "So finally it all came together like we've been hoping."
The Lobos slapped down the Miners twice and have this weekend off before going on the Mountain West road for three games at Fresno State. It's a good chance for UNM to work on getting healthy, but some things won't change: Jordyn Bledsoe out with a knee injury, Chelsea Anaya lost to a broken collarbone.
The Lobos jumped ahead of UTEP in both games: 1-0 in the 6-5 win and 4-0 in the 4-2 win. Ingram said she thought the early leads were pivotal to the wins.
"Inning one (first game), Kaela (DeBroeck) did a great job holding them and we came in and got a run right away," said Ingram. "The same thing happened in game two. Inning one, Lauren (Soles) did a great job holding them and right away we were on the scoreboard. I think then everyone kind of breathed and relaxed."
In game one, the Lobo coaching staff might not have been all that relaxed. The Miners came back to score three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead. UNM battled back into a 5-3 lead, but a two-run homer by UTEP's Colleen Hohman in the top of the seventh produced a five-all tie.
"We had to fight back and that's always fun to have that adversity thrown at us and being able to fight back and get a win out of it," said Beach. "That was something special for the kids."
The Lobos got the win in the bottom of the seventh when Ingram and Mariah Rimmer hit back-to-back singles with one out. They advanced a base on a passed ball that went to the backstop, but were stopped in their tracks when the UTEP catcher reached into the ump's bag and pulled out another ball.
UNM's Naomi Tellez then bounced a chopper back to the mound, but the UTEP pitcher, Danielle Pearson, bobbled and dropped the ball and Ingram raced in from third with the winning score. Rimmer went 4-for-4 in that game with two RBIs and three runs scored. Tellez went 3-for-4 and Ingram went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"Mariah obviously had an amazing day," said Ingram. "She just made it happen."
Rimmer placed UNM on the board first with a line-drive homer over the left field wall.
"I had been struggling on my inside pitches of that at-bat," said the talented freshman outfielder. "But I told myself, ` I've been struggling with it (inside pitch) so she is going to come with it again, step out and just swing.'
"I just changed my approach in the box. I just told myself, `Watch the ball, see it, make contact.' I literally just looked at the ball. I used to swing and not look at the ball and I said, `You have to see the ball to hit the ball.'"
Yeah, that's a better approach. Rimmer also had a double and a single in game one. DeBroeck went the distance in the circle striking out seven and giving up no walks in facing 29 batters. She allowed eight hits in seven innings.
"Now, we got these two wins and we built our momentum back up and we should come out strong (at Fresno)," said Rimmer.
The Lobos jumped up 4-0 in game two on a two-out rally. Hignojos doubled to knock in Ingram, Rimmer and Cassandra Kalapsa. Hignojos was tagged out at third trying to stretch that double with an extra bag. Ingram and Kalapsa reached the bag on walks.
The Miners scored one in the third and one in the fifth, but Soles scattered six hits, walked only one and struck out four. UTEP outhit the Lobos 6-5, but couldn't overcome that four-run outburst by UNM in frame one.
"Coming out to a quick start in that second game was really big for us," said Beach.
The Miners plummeted to 12-30 on the season and UNM pushed its mark to 21-29. The Lobos have six games left and cannot form a winning record in 2013, but they can avoid the Mountain West cellar with a strong finish.
"If we can play like we did today, obviously good things are going to happen," said Ingram, who will ride a six-game hitting streak into Fresno.