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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Softball: Lobos hit for seventh in MWC

sports@dailylobo.com
@Liam_CE

Series wins have been scarce for New Mexico’s softball team this season.

Another loss in the rubber match against Colorado State (29-11, 10-5 MW) on Wednesday night has provided six conference series losses in a row.

“It was a competitive series,” head coach Erica Beach said. “We need our pitching to not give up so many runs.”

The first game didn’t go well for UNM who dropped the first game of the doubleheader on Wednesday 6-0 in a shutout loss.

The second game of the day went much better for the Lobos, playing in Fort Collins.

Beach said she was pleased with the team’s timely hitting and sound defense despite the difficulties that the club had in the circle.

“Our offense does what it does and our defense played really well,” Beach said. “It was a big upset, I was really proud of the way that they played.”

The 6-3 victory provided New Mexico a shot at winning the series in the final game for the fourth series in a row.

For the fourth straight time, UNM could not muster up enough offense to come out with a series victory.

In the final game on Thursday, the Lobos got off to an ice cold start and found themselves in an 8-0 hole to start off the final game.

However, UNM was able to chip away at the deficit after a double from Mariah Rimmer plated two in the top of the third.

New Mexico’s offense wasn’t done plugging away at the Rams’ lead adding two more runs in the top of the fourth inning followed by a fielder’s choice that plated a run in the top of the fifth.

With the Lobos within striking distance, down by three, things began to collapse against CSU. A five run bottom of the fifth allotted the Rams’ to inflict the mercy rule, being up by eight after five innings of play.

UNM only has two conference series games left in the season.

New Mexico is also in a neck and neck race with Utah State (17-27, 5-10 MW) for seventh place in the standings. Utah State’s 1.5 game lead can be erased in the upcoming series that begins tonight.

Beach said pitching is going to be the key to winning the series.

“We need to keep the ball in the ball in the ball park and give our defense a chance,” she said. “Their big sticks can’t get to us.”

Beach added that the squad is prepared to face Utah State’s ace, Noelle Johnson. Johnson is leading the Mountain West in strikeouts (182) and is tied for first in number of appearances (36). The Aggies’ ace is second in innings pitched (188.2), along with ranking in the top ten for wins (16), games finished (12), and opposing batting average (.275).

Although Johnson is highly touted in many of the statistical categories, the starting pitcher is beatable. She leads the league in losses with 15 and is tied for the most wild pitches in the Mountain West with 14.

“They’ve got a really good pitcher,” Beach said. “We’ve done a good job against other team’s aces and have hit them well.”

If UNM sweeps USU, they will be in sole possession of seventh place, however simply winning two of three games would only put UNM half a game back for seventh.

“We need to take two of three,” Beach said. “We need to win this series, we haven’t done that yet.”

The Aggies and the Lobos will square off starting at 5 p.m. at Lobo Field.