Stevens: New Mexico Lobos Softball 2013 Season Review

May 15, 2013

New Mexico Lobos Softball - 2013 Season Review

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

Meet Lobos Coach Erica Beach - the juggler. Oh, Beach started the 2013 season as a softball coach and she was allowed to practice that vocation off and on during the University of New Mexico's roller coaster season.

But in the world of college sports, it's almost inevitable that a season of injury and pain will descend upon a team and force the head coach to learn a new skill. Beach learned how to juggle - a lineup.

In a way, the skill of juggling was vital to Beach, who described her injury-torn infield as a "carnival ride." Consider: Beach had three different Lobos at first, three at second, three at short and three at third.

Kaity Ingram played five different positions this season: second, third, short, left field and center field. Beach had five different leadoff batters. She used nine different Lobos in the sixth hole, eight in the seventh spot and nine in the eighth hole.

Sure, sometimes Beach was simply looking for a hot bat. Sometimes Beach simply was looking for a body healthy enough to carry a bat up to the plate.

The Lobos lost Jordyn Bledsoe (ACL) and Chelsea Anaya (broken collarbone) during the season. The Lobos went into the season looking at one of the top short-second combos in the league and that combo was gone on March 18 when Anaya went down. Anaya had picked up Mountain West Player of The Week honors the last week of February batting .562 that week.

"We lost our best hitter and our most consistency infielder," said Beach. "That was a big hit for the team and a big hit on the lineup. And then we just had a lot of nagging injuries to other girls that kept them out or had them playing through the pain."

Anaya played and started in UNM's first 27 games and didn't make it to the Mountain West season. The Lobos played 56 games posting a 21-35 mark and going 3-15 in Mountain West play. Only Mariah Rimmer and>Kaity Ingram played in all 56 games.

When Anaya went down, she led UNM in hitting with a .367 average and in slugging percentage at .532. Her .419 on-base percentage topped the UNM charts at the close of the season.

"I was proud how the team handled all the adversity," said Beach. "At the end of the season, we only had one infielder still in their original position. We lost people to injury and then we had people who were forced to play through injury. We had girls playing through pain and still leaving it all out there.

"This truly was a team of sisters. You could see that in everything they did."

"The way they responded was so positive. Not one person complained about moving around or playing in different positions. It was exhilarating as a coach to see your team respond that way. This truly was a team of sisters. You could see that in everything they did."

The Lobos opened the season at the talent-heavy Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State which helped them stumble to an 0-7 start. UNM rallied to win 11 of 13 including impressive one-run wins over Kansas and Auburn. The Lobos ended the season going 8-8 in one-run games.

"It was a rough way to start off the season at 0-7 even though it was great competition," said Beach. "But we want to make it to postseason on a regular basis and we need to learn how to play against those teams. We set ourselves up to have a challenging season just on our strength of schedule. We played 13 of the teams that are in the NCAA Tournament.

"We had a good run, but then we hit some obstacles and had some adversity that we had to carry into conference. We played competitive against some great teams before we started losing people."

The Lobos hit .247 as a team during 2013 with Rimmer hitting .346 and stealing 26 bases on 34 attempts. Rimmer led the team in runs scored (34), hits (63) and total bases (80). Naomi Tellez led the team in RBIs with 26 and Cassandra Kalapsa topped the UNM stats with seven home runs. Kalapsa took MW Player of the Week honors on April 9 helping UNM to a 2-1 MW series win over Boise State with her two home runs.

The Lobos had four players hit above .290 during the MW season: Sheryl Guillermo (.333), Bledsoe (.308), Kalapsa (.295) and Rimmer (.295).

A key for UNM in 2013 was to see progress on the pitching plate. Beach, a former All-American hurler for Arizona State, is always looking for better numbers in the circle, but she did see her bullpen step up this past season.

"We needed a season where the pitching showed growth and we got that this year," she said.

Senior Kaela DeBroeck had her best season as a Lobo and finished with her best season ERA of 3.88 in 121 innings pitched. She averaged four strikeouts per seven innings pitched. She leaves the UNM diamond holding the career record for batters faced with 2,523. She is second in career appearances (130) and second in games started (86).

"Kaela was hurting (shoulder) the last month of the season and still had her best year ever as a Lobo," said Beach. "She stepped up for us and did it throwing through pain."

DeBroeck's marks might be challenged by a 2013 teammate. The Lobos also got a solid plate performance from freshman lefty Lauren Soles, who led the team with a 3.23 ERA, in innings pitched (132.1), in starts (23), in opposing batting average (.241) and in strikeouts (105). DeBroeck had 68 Ks, so the young Lobo obviously has the pitches to become a dominating power pitcher. Soles was a MW Player of the Week on Feb. 19. UNM had a 4.33 ERA as a team, a number that needs to improve.

"You can't plan for that many injuries and it takes a toll on a team mentally as well as physically. But the girls played so hard all year with enthusiasm for each other and for the game," said Beach. "We were fortunate that we had that many adaptable athletes.

"If we had stayed healthy, we would have had a better finish. It was a challenging season, but it was a season that taught us a lot about performing through adversity. I think considering everything these girls faced, we got about everything we could have out of them."

Lobo Softball 2013 Post-Season Awards

Academic Achievement Award - Lisa Rodrigues

Most Improved Player - Mia Hignojos

Lobo Spirit Award - Kari Gutierrez

Defensive Player of the Year ->Kaity Ingram

Offensive Player of the Year - Chelsea Anaya

Pitcher of the Year - Kaela DeBroeck

Most Valuable Player - Cassie Kalapsa

First-Annual Jordyn Bledsoe Inspiration Award: Jordyn Bledsoe