LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Feb. 6, 2013) - The New Mexico State University baseball team, defending co-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions, will once again look to its pitching staff to be the foundation of its 2013 team.
Head coach Rocky Ward is excited about returning all four main starters from last season's staff that led the WAC with 35 wins and had the lowest earned run average (ERA) in Ward's career at NM State.
"We feel that when we put our starting rotation out there, every one of them is going to have a chance to win," Ward said.
The four-man starting rotation, however, will have to go through a little bit of a change. The graduation of last season's closer and first-team All-WAC player Scott Coffman has left a gaping hole in the Aggies' pitching staff. Coffman's eight saves last season not only led the team, they also made him NM State's all-time leader in total saves. Ward decided to fill the hole left by Coffman by moving one of his best starting pitchers over the last couple of years to the closer position.
Senior Ryan Beck will assume the closer position. Last year Beck, who was the Aggies' opening day starter, led the team with 16 starts, a 4.24 ERA, over 97 innings pitched and 97 strikeouts on the season. It is the second consecutive season that Beck has led the team in all four categories. His 97 strikeouts also led the WAC and placed him 47th in the nation.
With Beck in the bullpen, the majority of the starting pitching load will be left to last season's three other starters, senior Adam Mott, senior Michael Ormseth and graduate student Casey Collins.
Mott, who, like Coffman, was also a first-team All-WAC selection a year ago, will probably be NM State's opening day starter. Mott led the team in 2012 with a .276 opponent's batting average. He finished the season with a 6-3 record, a 4.80 ERA and 78 strikeouts. The wins, ERA and strikeouts were all good for second-best on the Aggie squad.
Ormseth, a Las Cruces native and former Mayfield Trojan, returned to Las Cruces after two years at Luna Community College in Las Vegas, N.M., and made an immediate impact on the team. Ormseth won his first seven decisions at NM State and finished the season with an 8-2 record in 13 starts. His eight wins were tops on the Aggie team and placed him in a tie for second among all WAC pitchers. Ormseth finished the season with a 5.33 ERA and 62 strikeouts.
Collins, a graduate student who still has a year of eligibility because of a redshirt, finished 2012 with a 4-4 record in nine starts. He also finished with a 5.22 ERA, 27 strikeouts and only allowed two home runs all season, good for a tie for second-best among WAC pitchers.
With the starting rotation almost in tack and Beck solidifying the closer position, the only questions that remain for the Aggie pitching staff is the middle relievers. NM State lost many of what Ward calls the "bridge guys" from last season's squad. Left are senior, and Adam's twin brother, Evan Mott, junior Timothy Torsney and sophomore Trey Higginbotham as the main middle relievers returning in 2013. Of course, one of the three may be moved up to be the no. 4 starter, which would put even more emphasis on the performances of the new incoming relievers.
"There are a few questions to be answered," Ward said, "but overall I'm very optimistic on what our pitching staff can do."
Aggie fans can get their first glimpse of NM State's pitching staff and the rest of the Aggie squad on Saturday (Feb. 9) during the Annual Alumni Game at Presley Askew Field. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. (MT).