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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Softball: Last place Lobos lose two games in Fresno series

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By Di Linh Hoang / New Mexico Daily Lobo

New Mexico out elder Shelbie Franc dives for the ball during a game against Fresno State on Friday. After beginning the series with an 11-9 extra-inning walk-o win over Fresno State, UNM struggled for the remainder of the weekend.

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Errant pitching and silent bats lead to consecutive losses for the New Mexico softball team.

After beginning the series with an 11-9 extra-inning walk-off win over Fresno State (21-13, 6-3 MW), UNM could not find a way to score for the remainder of the weekend. The rubber match of the series proved to be a tragedy for the Lobos, who lost 20-0 in five innings of play Sunday.

“Honestly, it’s really hard for an offense to feel like they have to put 12 runs up to win a ball game,” head coach Erica Beach said. “If our offense isn’t there, our pitching has to step up … We can’t be giving up this many runs in a game.”

For the second straight game, UNM (11-25, 2-7 MW) couldn’t put a single run on the board while Fresno State had no issue setting up an abundance of runs.

UNM pitcher Lisa Rodrigues couldn’t find any sort of groove, walking seven of the 16 batters she faced. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, Rodrigues threw 71 pitches allowing nine runs on just five hits.

Rodrigues said that inconsistency from the umpire played a large role in her difficult time finding the strike zone.

“I just kept thinking to myself, ‘just hit black, hit low’ … Sometimes he would call it and sometimes he wouldn’t,” she said. “Sometimes it sucks because you don’t know what exactly he wants.”

Bulldogs pitcher Jill Compton did not find the umpire’s zone to be a factor. Compton shut out the Lobos, allowing only two hits and one walk while striking out four batters.

Fresno State gave Compton a cushion early on in the game, putting two on the board in the first followed by a 10-run second inning that put the game out of reach.

Beach said talent isn’t the issue when it comes to the team’s ability to pitch. However, Beach highlighted that composure is going to be a major point of emphasis throughout the remainder of the season.

“It’s not a physical problem — they know how to pitch; they know how to throw strikes. It’s a mental thing,” Beach said. “That’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Confidence is a difficult thing to acquire during slumps. UNM has dropped five of its last six games and has been mercy ruled three times in that stretch.

Despite having won only two of nine conference games thus far, Rodrigues said that once the team overcomes its rut, the club will start to regain the poise they desperately need.

“I think we’re pretty good as a team overall,” Rodrigues said. “I think we’ll break through, we’ll break through that seal.”

UNM currently resides in last place in the Mountain West. However, Beach said that in order to overcome the difficulties the team needs to improve quickly.

“We have to learn from it and move forward,” she said. “We can’t dwell on it for weeks. We don’t have that kind of time.”