Four Commit to Lobo Softball in Early Signing Period

Nov. 15, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- University of New Mexico head coach Erica Beach, and assistants Lyndsey Angus and Christi Musser, are pleased to announce the signing of four dynamic athletes that will join the Lobo softball team in 2013-14.

The incoming class is made up of talented infielders and outfielders in Jasmine Casados (Albuquerque, N.M.), Michala Erickson (Peoria, Ariz.), Shelbie Franc (Camarillo, Calif.) and Willow Kalinen (Scottsdale, Ariz.).

Common themes among these four future Lobos is athleticism and versatility.

Beach says all four can play multiple positions and are loaded with both short and long game capabilities on offense.

"We want the best athletes we can get," Beach said. "We wanted to round out our lineup with different types of offense. We want short game, we want power, we want speed -- just a little bit of everything and I think that this class gives us that. We need the versatility because in the past we have been plagued by injury and people have to play out of position and we're thin in different areas and one injury away from not being able to field a defense.

"With the class of 2012-13 we focused on pitching and rounding out the pitching staff, so this year we wanted to add depth to our defense and look to improve the athleticism on our team. We've done that with next year's class."

Beach believes her incoming Lobos will thrive once they get to UNM. She says their athleticism and winning backgrounds, coupled with the extras of being a collegiate softball player (weights, conditioning, individual workouts) and the fact that all four understand the vision of the Lobo softball program, will result in a class of players of impact.

"They want to come here and help us win a National Championship," Beach said. "Those are the kind of players we go after."

Albuquerque native Jasmine Casados will become a Lobo infielder in 2013-14. The 5-foot-3 current La Cueva Bear is a four-year letterwinner in softball and a two-year letterwinner in sports medicine.

"They want to come here and help us win a National Championship. Those are the kind of players we go after."
Head coach Erica Beach

Under head coach Ashley Carter, Casados and the Bears earned the distinction of District 5A champions and finished third at the New Mexico state tournament in 2010. Last year the team repeated as District 5A champs. Casados plays club ball with New Mexico Sol.

"One of our goals is to get the best athletes from New Mexico and we did that with Jasmine," Beach said. "She is a top-notch, blue-chip player and is one of the best athletes in her class in New Mexico and one of the best hitters in the state. We are lucky she decided to stay in state and to become a Lobo. We want the best players in the state to be here, at UNM.

"She can do it all defensively and is very consistent on offense, so she will find her way into the lineup one way or another with her bat."

Middle-infielder Michala Erickson is a 5-3 standout out of Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz. Erickson and the Mustangs, under the direction of head coach Jody Pruitt, were high school state runner-up for division II, section II in 2010 and 2012 and claimed the regional championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012. As an individual, she was named All-State honorable mention as a freshman, second-team All-State as a sophomore and first-team All-State as a junior. She was also first-team All-District and first-team West Region last season.

Erickson has earned four varsity letters in softball and one in soccer, and currently holds the record at her high school for most triples in a season and most home runs in a season.

"Michala is a very athletic kid," Beach said. "She has a positive attitude and is a very hard worker. She is a consistent player and could play at any position in the infield if we needed her to."

The future Lobo also does well in the classroom, having earned a spot on the Honor Roll as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Erickson has played for three Arizona softball club teams: Storm Gold-Brun, Hotshots Davis and Outlaws. Infielder/outfielder Shelbie Franc comes to the Lobos out of Camarillo, Calif., where she attends Adolfo Camarillo High School and plays for Jack Willard.

The four-year letterwinner has helped the Scorpions claim the Pacific View League championship the past two seasons and the 2011 California Interscholastic Federation south section championship. Franc earned league Player of the Year honors in 2011.

A standout on the field and in the classroom, Franc earned her spot on the Principal Honor Roll in 2011-12 and was recognized as a distinguished student, also in 2011-12. Franc has played a number of years of club ball with VC Mayhem, So Cal Pumas, Strikeforce and SoCal Diamonds.

"Shelbie is primarily an infielder but would have the potential to move to the outfield as well. She could really play any position in the field, aside from pitcher or catcher," Beach said. "She also provides a nice bat in the lineup.

"She is very good in the classroom, a diligent student and that carries over on to the field. She really is a student of the game."

Willow Kalinen joins New Mexico from Pinnacle High School out of Scottsdale, Ariz. The 5-8 outfielder is a four-year letterwinnner for the Pioneers under coach Ben Frank and helped her high school team claim third place for 5AII at the Arizona state tournament in 2011.

She has also played club ball for Arizona Storm since 2008 and last summer her club team took fifth place at Premier Nationals. Kalinen was inducted into the National Honors Society in 2011 and served as a peer mentor last year.

"Willow is very skilled in the outfield," Beach said. "She covers a ton of ground and has a good arm and will provide speed for us. She is a confident outfielder and a very knowledgable, consistent player. Offensively, she has a short game and can also hit away. She will be able to step right in a make a play for one of the outfield positions."

The Lobos begin the 2012-13 season Feb. 7-10 at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. New Mexico faces Creighton at 1:30 p.m. MT and Arizona State at 7:00 p.m. on its opening day. UNM's first home softball event of the season is the Lobo Classic, set for Feb. 15-17.