Stevens: Hard-Hitting Lobos Need Complete Game Vs. Hard-Throwing SDSU

April 19, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Softball -- At Lobo Field

Friday: 6 p.m., San Diego State at Lobos
Saturday:: 3 p.m., San Diego State at Lobos (Live TheMtn-TV)
Sunday:: 1 p.m., San Diego State at Lobos
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Live Streaming (Friday and Sunday), Stats, Game Recaps

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's a classic diamond duel of opposites -- hitting vs. pitching -- and something has to give.

However, the New Mexico Lobos and the San Diego State Aztecs both know that victory on the diamond usually comes from fielding a complete package.

The Lobos, the best hitting team in the Mountain West, need some solid pitching in order to put down the Aztecs and make a climb in the MW standings.

San Diego State, the best pitching team in the MW, needs to score some runs to complement the Aztecs' good work in the circle. The Aztecs come to Lobo Field undefeated in league play at 3-0.

Now, it's not that the Lobos can't pitch and the Aztecs can't hit. They can. However, teams have their strengths - and their question marks.

The Lobo sticks are among the best in the nation. The Aztecs' main muscle is in the circle. They throw heat and all that other good stuff coming off the arms of Bailey Mimetic (2.36 ERA) and Rebecca Arbino (2.20).

In the most recent MW stats, New Mexico tops the Mountain in team batting average (.317), slugging percentage (.587), runs scored (258), home runs (65) and RBIs (238). Yes, the Lobos are ball mashers. UNM has scored 258 runs so far this season and SDSU has scored 168. UNM has 65 home runs. The Aztecs have 34.

The SDSU Aztecs lead the league in ERA (2.51) and strikeouts (214). The Lobos are last in that pitching-plate category with a 4.67 team ERA and 101 strikeouts. The Aztecs can overpower teams from the circle. The Lobo arms need to be craftier, keep the ball low in the strike zone, and let the UNM defense do its thing.

Both teams will be looking for the complete package of hitting, pitching and defense when they meet for three key Mountain West games Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lobo Field.

"We've only played a couple of games so far this season where everything is working at the same time, which is positive because we've done so well that way," said Lobo Coach Erica Beach. "But we can be an unbelievable team if we're doing everything at the same time, correctly."

The best time of the season for the Lobos -- and the Aztecs -- to put it all together is now. The Mountain West regular-season champion earns the league's automatic NCAA bid.

The Lobos have put together a strong resume for at-large consideration and are the only Mountain team to crack the Top 25 this season. But you never want to leave things in the hands of an NCAA selection committee when there is an automatic bid to grab.

The Aztecs were the preseason picks to snatch the 2012 crown followed by UNLV, Boise State, New Mexico and Colorado State.

The Aztecs are off to a good start. They bring a 3-0 league mark into Lobo Field, which has SDSU tied with Boise State. UNLV and CSU are 0-3. This this weekend's action is New Mexico's first venture into MW wars.

The Lobos have six batters hitting above .290: Jessica Garcia (.411), Stefanie Carramusa (.372), Kerry Hodgins (.371), Chelsea Anaya (.328), Shenise Cox (.321) and Jordan Sjostrand (.293). Carramusa has 16 home runs, Garcia has 15 and Cox has 12.

The Aztecs main stick is Hayley Mills, who hits at a .406 clip and has nine home runs and 15 doubles.

A high-scoring game probably would favor the Lobos and a low-scoring game might lean to the Aztecs. UNM has run-ruled eight teams in 2012.

SDSU's Arbino has 79 strikeouts and Micetich, last weeks MW Pitcher of The Week, has 112 Ks. The two Aztecs have combined to pitch five shutouts so far this season. Micetich had a 1.91 ERA in two appearances vs. CSU last week. UNM's Carrie Sheehan has 42 strikeouts and a 3.95 ERA. Kaela DeBroeck has 44 strikeouts and a .5.52 ERA.