Stevens: Beach's Lobos On A Mission To Improve -- And Win
Feb. 14, 2013
New Mexico Lobos Softball Classic - Friday-Saturday-Sunday - Lobo Field
Friday: 3:45 p.m., Lobos vs. Hampton; 6 p.m. Lobos vs. Central Michigan
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It's not exactly a fresh start for Erica Beach's Lobos because the 0-7 mark the Lobos take into their Lobo Classic can't be erased. But in the pain of defeat there are lessons to be learned and Beach is expecting her Lobos to take to their home turf with a fresh focus.
"The girls were disappointed in the weekend and their production," said Beach. "They all wanted to contribute more no matter what part of the game it was, whether it was pitching, defense or hitting.
"The girls are really focused on getting better. They are on a mission to improve. Nobody expected to go oh-and-seven. It is a wake-up call."
The Lobos left the tough Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., with an 0-5 mark and dropped games in Las Cruces to Nebraska and New Mexico State. A glance at the UNM stats reflects a number of areas that need drastic and quick improvement.
UNM freshman Mariah Rimmer is the only Lobo hitting above .300. She is at .316 with two of UNM's three extra-base hits. Kaity Ingram is next at .263.
"We have to embrace our new identity," said Beach. "We can't go out and try to do too much in the box because we don't have the same power. We have to eliminate some of the big innings that we have given up.
"We have a young team and it was our chance to feel out what we have. I think we saw some nerves coming from the underclassmen. We have a lot of freshmen in the lineup. Last year we started so hot and finished so poorly and we are hoping we are going to build up to where we want to be for conference."
The Lobo Classic should be a better place to build than the Kajikawa, which brought in ranked teams from across the country, including No. 1 Oklahoma which is stacked and dangerous both on the mound and in the batter's box. The Sooners beat UNM 11-1.
The field in the Lobo Classic is not as intimidating and Beach said, "We want to win all six games, but I never overlook anyone. It's a good chance to get a lot of innings in and there will be a lot of different challenges (from this field of teams)."
The field includes New Mexico, IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne), Bradley, Hampton and Central Michigan. The tourney begins at 9 a.m., Friday with IPFW going at Bradley. UNM plays Hampton at 3:45 p.m., Friday and stays on the field for a 6 p.m., game with Central Michigan.
Beach said her defense in the first seven games looked solid, but there is room for improvement on the pitching plate and in hitting. The Lobos led the nation in home runs in 2012, but lost 71 of those 95 home runs going into the 2013 season.
"It did surprise me a little bit," Beach said of UNM's low run output in the first seven games. "I knew it would be a change. I think it put things into perspective for them and I do think they have a better understanding of how we are going to score runs."
"We didn't have the timely hitting and the clutch hitting that we need. We have to identify who our RBI kids are going to be.
"I think a lot of nerves came into play (in Tempe). I think they'll (Lobos) be able to get rid of that and just play ball. If you think too much, when you stress too much, you just don't play your best."
For sure, the Lobos didn't play their best in the first seven games. In that aspect, the Lobo Classic does promise a fresh start.
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 email@example.com.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS 2013 SOFTBALL ROSTER