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Lobo coach honored to be on USA staff

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Lobos baseball coach Ray Birmingham has been named hitting coach for the 2014 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

UNM baseball head coach Ray Birmingham, right, helped the Lobos to the top batting average in the nation last season. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

UNM baseball head coach Ray Birmingham, right, helped the Lobos to the top batting average in the nation last season. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Birmingham confirmed his selection Friday from Dallas, where he is attending the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention.

“It’s a lot more on your plate besides building a baseball program (at UNM) and building a baseball field,” Birmingham said. “But I thought it was good for New Mexico that I get on (the coaching staff) and especially for the university, because it’s a humbling honor.”

UNM is in the process of renovating Lobo Field.

On the staff with Birmingham are Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn, manager; Texas A&M’s Rob Childress, pitching coach; and Pepperdine’s Steve Rodriguez, third-base coach.

Birmingham will assist in selecting and training the team.

Competitions are scheduled for Europe and Cuba, he said.

“It will start somewhere in mid-June and then go through the first of August,” he said.

Last season, Birmingham’s Lobos led all NCAA Division I teams in batting average (.334), on-base percentage (.422), slugging percentage (.504), doubles per game (2.53) and runs per game (8.3).

Hitting, he said, is “a passion of mine. … You’ve got to be aggressively patient; it’s a skill you can learn.”

Birmingham completed his sixth season at UNM in June. The Lobos have won the past two Mountain West Conference regular-season titles and have competed in four consecutive NCAA Regionals.

Before coming to UNM, Birmingham coached New Mexico Junior College to a national title in 2005.

Birmingham was recognized at the ABCA Convention for having registered his 1,000th career victory last season. That milestone was reached via a 19-5 rout of Air Force on April. 6.

He is a 1973 graduate of Hobbs High School. Birmingham is a New Mexico State University graduate and earned a master’s in education administration at College of the Southwest in Hobbs.

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