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Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 22:04
The New Mexico State softball team opens Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play this weekend as it hosts San Jose State for a weekend series with a single game Friday at 6 p.m. MT on the grounds of NM State Softball Complex.
NM State (19-10) is coming off of a weekend series against No. 14 Nebraska in which the Aggies went 1-3, notching their first win over a ranked opponent in four seasons. The Aggies led in three of the four games in the series.
The Aggies have only hosted an opening-week WAC series once since joining the league in 2005. In 2006, NM State's inaugural WAC season, the Aggies hosted San Jose State winning one of three contests. The following season NM State swept the Spartans in San Jose, 3-0.
Overall the Aggies are 5-9 in WAC opening series games. After suffering a sweep last season at Boise State and dropping two games at Nevada the year prior, NM State is looking for its first opening-series game win since a 2008 victory in Hawai'i.
In Las Cruces, NM State is 3-12 in home WAC openers. Hawai'i ruined the Aggies' first home league series last year with a three-game sweep. The Aggies will be looking for their first series win in a home WAC opening weekend this Friday and Saturday.
NM State and San Jose State split four meetings last year, each decided by a single run. The Aggies took two of three games to conclude the regular season in San Jose to advance to the WAC Tournament. In the tourney held in Las Cruces, the fifth-seeded Spartans edged the sixth-seeded Aggies 9-8 to conclude NM State's season.
The all-time series between the squads could not be much closer as SJSU leads 24-21 since the first meeting in 1991. Prior to the 2-2 split last season, the Aggies closed the series gap by taking all five meetings in 2009.
The Spartans and Aggies have three common opponents this season, all currently ranked squads, in Arizona, Arizona State and Nebraska. SJSU dropped a single game against each opponent this year. The Spartans lost to Nebraska 7-3 and fell to UofA and ASU in shortened contests. NM State fell to ASU in a shortened game in early March. Last week NM State dropped two games to No. 7 Arizona, one in extra innings and won the opening game of a four-game series versus No. 14 Nebraska.
Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph is 13-6 all-time versus SJSU after a season split last year.
This season San Jose State (13-18) has played the majority of its games at neutral sites in 2011. The Spartans are 4-13 at those sites but do carry an impressive 5-3 record on the road and are 4-2 at home this year. Earlier this week, SJSU split a two-game series with Idaho State in San Jose. However, the Spartans have dropped five of their last six contests overall since a 3-1 home win over New Mexico on March 16.
SJSU is led on offense by Sadie Coenen with a .369 batting average. Alex Stange ranks next with a .330 average and leads the team with 29 hits this season. Cheryl Freitas leads the Spartans with four home runs, 21 RBI and 38 total bases this season while batting .284. Jennifer Ames leads SJSU in the circle with a 5-7 ledger in 16 appearances and a 2.85 ERA.
Coming off of her second Hitter of the Week Award from the WAC this week, senior Hoku Nohara learned she leads the nation in home runs (18) this season, home runs per game (.62) and slugging percentage (1.231). Just as impressive, Nohara is second in the country in runs batted in per game (1.72) and ranks sixth nationally in on-base percentage.
Senior Kandis Jones leads the WAC with 40 hits and 30 runs scored and 98 at-bats this season. She ranks only behind Nohara with a .408 clip at the plate. Jones is second in the league and first on the team with nine doubles. Junior Tiare Jennings is second on the team with 24 RBI and a .495 on-base percentage just behind Nohara.
Senior Kylie Randall leads the league with 17 stolen bases this season to rank No. 31 nationally. The Aggies' all-time bag robber is 17-of-17 on the season. Freshman Valerie Swedberg leads the WAC with two triples and touts the second-best slugging percentage on the team at .583. She is also third in doubles for NM State this season with six.
Sophomore Alex Newman leads the Aggies in the circle with a 12-1 record in 21 appearances and a 3.58 ERA.
As a team, NM State carries a .321 batting average at the plate to rank No. 26 nationally. The Aggies are No. 19 in the country for scoring 6.62 runs per game this year. NM State ranks No. 21 nationally in both slugging percentage (.522) and home runs per game (1.21).
NM State and San Jose State conclude the series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. MT.
For all of the latest NM State softball news, click NMStateSports.com.