Stevens: Beach's Lobos Go To Idaho Looking To Snap Four-Game Skid

March 22, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Softball - at SpringHill Suites Invitational - Boise, Idaho

Friday: 10 a.m., vs. Weber State; Noon vs. Seattle University
Saturday: 10 a.m., vs. Seattle University
Sunday: 10 a.m., vs. Texas-San Antonio; Noon vs. Weber State Game Recap, Statistics

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The target isn't exactly off the back of Erica Beach's Lobos. A New Mexico team that smashes the softball like her Lobos do is a team to be noticed. The Lobos top the NCAA charts in home runs per game at 1.78

The Lobos also are No. 2 in the nation in slugging percentage (.609) and No. 3 in scoring (8.17 runs per game). UNM bats .337 as a team. And who wants to dish up a softball to Shenise Cox, Stefanie Carramusa or Jessica Garcia, who combine for 29 dingers? These Lobos can be savage at the plate.

But is it more difficult to battle an opponent as a Top 25 team or as an ex-Top 25 team riding a four-game losing skid?

The Lobos will find some answers Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the SpringHill Suites Invitational hosted by Boise State. The Lobos will not play the Broncos, holding back that clash for the upcoming Mountain West schedule, but will go at Weber State (twice), Seattle University (twice) and Texas-San Antonio.

The Lobos might go into potato country minus their No. 23 ranking, but if you dip into the also-receiving-votes category, UNM has the unofficial tag of No. 28. Not bad.

But that four-game skid needs to go away.

Beach says one thing her team isn't doing is worrying too much about being on the negative side of the scoreboard.

"Losses are part of the game. It's going to happen," said the second-year Lobo coach. "It's how you handle them and what you take from them. You have to learn to overcome adversity.

"We lost to some good ball clubs (Utah, NMSU and Texas Tech (2)). It's not like they were bad losses to bad teams. We just need to make sure we step up our pitching."

On the scoreboard, the Lobos usually do enough to win games. They pound the ball - but not always. That's when a team needs balance between hitting, pitching and defense.

The Lobos average 9.6 run in their 17 wins. They average 3.4 runs in their six losses. When the bats aren't blazing, teams need muscle on the mound and consistency on defense.

"We're not going to press the panic button because we lost a couple of games."
Lobo Coach Erica Beach

"We scored enough runs to win (the last three games)," said Beach of the 9-4, 8-5, 8-6 losses. "We have to work on not giving up so many runs.

"We have to continue to improve our pitching. That's the most important thing for us. They (Kaela DeBroeck and Carrie Sheehan) have been trying a little too hard on the mound. They are taking a little too much of the load and pitching tight. They are out there forcing pitches and it's not been working."

The load on the plate should lighten as Kari Gutierrez (injured earlier) returns to full strength and adds another healthy arm to the Beach's bullpen. That will spread out the pitches thrown and give DeBroeck and Sheehan rest, both physically and mentally. It's not easy to throw softballs at the hitters on the D-I level.

"We are trying to simplify things and go back to the basics," said Beach. "We're not going to press the panic button because we lost a couple of games."

The field up in Boise is a solid one, but not daunting. There are no Top 25 teams, no teams receiving votes. The Lobos will be looked upon as the bully on that weekend. Weber State is 9-13, Seattle is 6-11 and Texas-San Antonio is 10-14. The Lobos are 17-6.

"These are teams that, if we play our game, we should be able to beat," said Beach. "But the last thing we can do is overlook anyone. All three teams will beat us, if we don't show up to play. You have to come out and be intense from the get-go."

The Lobos are led in hitting by Garcia at .476 followed by Carramusa at .413 and Cox at .382. The Lobos have three other hitters over .300: Kerry Hodgins (.371), Chelsea Anaya (.356) and Jordan Sjostrand (.333). Cox's slugging percentage is .926, Carramusa's is .926 and Garcia is at .878.

"Our offense has to keep going on the path it's on," said Beach. "Our offense needs to keep on trucking."