Freshman Alex Mayo-Otis practices bunting during ENMU softball practice on Friday afternoon. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Kelsey Kubik didn’t know what to expect last spring when she came to Eastern New Mexico University to play softball, and she admits her teammates weren’t sure either.
Suffice it to say, things went pretty well for her. She posted a Lone Star Conference-leading .439 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBIs, helping the Zias to a solid 33-21 record, including 13-11 for fifth in the seven-team LSC South.
ENMU is preparing to open the 2007 season on Friday in the Angelo State Spring Classic, and despite a lot of new faces in the program Kubik and third-year coach Armando Quiroz are expecting good things.
“I’m really excited,” said Kubik, a senior right fielder from Tucson, Ariz. “Everyone (Quiroz) has picked up is really solid, and they know what they’re doing.”
She said her personal goal is to repeat her batting title.
“A lot of people talk about the (school) home run record (13 last season by the graduated Tina Whitt),” Kubik said, “but I’d rather be able to get on base consistently and drive in runs.”
Kubik is one of only six players back from last season. The Zias essentially lost all their pitching, including 19-game winner Rosemary Moreno, as well as their catching and most of the infield from 2006.
Quiroz, who missed virtually all of the 2005 season after suffering a freakish broken ankle after falling over a batting helmet during an early practice, said he’s confident the Zias can do better than their fifth-place projection in the South’s preseason poll.
“We’re very young, but I happen to think we’re very talented,” Quiroz said. “I expect to improve on last year’s finish.
“Our freshmen are ready to play; they’re hungry. With club ball, they’ve traveled all over the country.”
Three right-handers — junior college transfer Nicole Dickson and freshmen Alex Mayo-Otis and Kristen Cruickshank — should handle most of the pitching duties. Quiroz said all may play the field when not in the circle, and all will probably hit for themselves as well.