LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State softball team opens fall play at home against UTEP in a doubleheader, Saturday, Oct. 5, beginning at 11 a.m. The Aggies welcome the UTEP Miners at the NM State Softball Complex. The Aggies then host Western New Mexico, Oct. 6, at 9:30 a.m.
The Miners and the Aggies met twice in 2013, with the Aggies sweeping the series. NM State topped the Miners 7-1 in the first meeting in Las Cruces, and then traveled to the Helen of Troy Softball Complex for a 5-4 win over UTEP in extra innings.
UTEP begins its first season under the direction of head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. She directed Portland State to four NCAA Regional appearances and four conference titles in the last five years. Echo-Hawk coached at Portland State from 2009-13 with a record of 146-127.
NM State also faces WNMU to end the weekend on Sunday. The last time the Aggies faced the Mustangs was in the 2006-07 season. The Aggies topped the Mustangs with a 10-0 in the first game and 4-0 in the second game.
Last season three Mustangs were named the All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference third team. Western New Mexico overall record for last season was 19-32.
The Aggies return 15 from last season’s squad and welcome eight new players. Among the returns is junior Staci Rodriguez who was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year after outstanding season that was highlighted by leading the conference with 20 home runs and 69 RBI. The center fielder started in every single game for the Aggies in 2013 and led the team with a slugging percentage of .780. She also earned NFCA All-Pacific Region honors.
Among the eight newcomers to the team are New Mexico natives Susie Chandler (Farmington, N.M.) and Nikki Diaz (Las Cruces, N.M.). Haley Nakamura, younger sister to sophomore Brennalyn Nakamura, also joins the middle infield as a freshman for the Aggies.
NM State had an overall 37-20 record last season with an 18-7 league record. The Aggies finished second in the regular season behind San Jose State.