Ready or not, the 2022 Mountain West Conference race begins Friday for the University of New Mexico baseball team.
Still finding their footing under first-year coach Tod Brown, the Lobos (3-5) open a three-game MWC series at San Jose State (6-3). They’ll start with a 7:05 p.m. contest at Excite Ballpark, then play matinees on Saturday (3:05 p.m.) and Sunday (1:05 p.m.).
UNM is coming off a 3-1 series win over Holy Cross last weekend, but Brown knows his team is still a work in progress.
“I wish we could have a few more games under our belts before starting conference,” he said. “We’re starting to figure out roles and our bullpen’s coming together, but we need to improve our starting pitching and we’re still working on that. It’s tough starting conference so early, but the schedule is what it is. We’ll adapt.”
After being largely shut down by Oregon State and Gonzaga, UNM’s hitting began to emerge against Holy Cross. The Lobos scored 32 runs in the four-game series and outfielder Jeffrey David called it a confidence-builder.
“The first weekend in Arizona was an eye-opener for us,” David said. “We were not in a good place mentally, but I think we took a huge step forward last week. We got timely hits and started putting things together. We need to build off that, especially now that it’s conference time.”
David was one of three Lobos who appeared to find a rhythm at the plate against the Crusaders. Shortstop Kamron Willman leads the Lobos with a .323 batting average , followed by infielder Willie Cano (.300) and David (.290).
Brown said he plans to start Riley Egloff, Brett Russell and Tristin Lively on the mound in the series, with Miguel Reyes Jr. moving to the bullpen after a pair of starts.
San Jose State has played exclusively at home thus far this season and has done an effective job winning close games. SJSU has three one-run victories and a 6-3 record despite being outscored 68-57 overall. Utility man Hunter Dorraugh is off to a hot start for the Spartans, hitting .323 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs in nine games.
— Ken Sickenger
- New Mexico State (5-1) begins a four-game set with Prairie View A&M (2-5) Friday with a 3 p.m. game at the Aggies’ Presley Askew Field. The two teams play a noon doubleheader Saturday and an 11 a.m. game Sunday.
SOFTBALL: UNM (12-3) kept to its winning ways, sweeping 3-14 UC Santa Barbara 3-1 and 11-7 on Thursday at the South Coast Classic in Santa Barbara, California. Andrea Howard’s two-run first-inning homer in game one was enough to back the pitching of Emma Guindon (6-1, 6.1 innings) and Amber Linton. Emma Bramson homered twice, one a grand slam, and UNM benefited from 14 walks in game two. The Lobos play Santa Clarka Friday at 3 p.m.
TRACK AND FIELD: UNM’s four qualifiers for the NCAA Indoor Championships March 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama are all in the same event — the women’s 5,000 meters. Adva Cohen (seeded fifth at 15 minutes, 33 seconds), Emma Heckel (13th), Gracelyn Larkin (14th) and Amelia Mazza-Downie are running for the Lobos. The race is 7:05 p.m. on March 11.
DIVING: Lobos Hannah Tiendas, Daphne Scheck and Alex Robertson have qualified for NCAA Zone Championships in Flagstaff Monday-Wednesday. All three will participate in the 1-meter dive, and Robertson and Scheck will compete in the 3-meter. Tiendas, who is a senior along with Scheck, will compete in the platform.