Around the Mountain West

May 082005
Authors: Paul Baker

The Mountain West Conference Tournament for softball begins Thursday.

This year the tournament is being hosted by the San Diego State Aztecs. Last year Utah won the tournament that was hosted by the Rams.

Here is how the conference's regular season finished up as of Sunday.

No. 1 Brigham Young University (40-11, 16-2 in Conference)

This was the first time that the Cougars have ever swept their instate rival Utah from up the road. The Cougars were almost perfect this season in conference- play, both losses during the year came at the hands of UNLV. BYU is led by infielder laneta Le'I. She is hitting .309 from the plate with six doubles, five home runs, and 21 RBIs. The Cougars are ranked 27 in the ESPN/ USA Softball poll.

No. 2 University of Nevada-Las Vegas (39-16, 15-3)

The Rebels are ranked number 31 by the USA Today/ NFCA poll this week. This season UNLV is led by outfielder Marrisa Nicols. So far this season she has racked up 15 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 40 RBIs, and is batting .433 from the plate. She should contend for player of the year in the MWC. Also, this week the Rebels captured both Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week with Brittany Meade and Jacque Kerrigan receiving those, respectively. Going into the tournament, the Lobos have won their last six games of the season, all versus conference opponents.

No. 3 Colorado State University (29-20, 8-8)

Both of the series scheduled for the Rams last weekend were canceled due to a snowstorm. That stopped a four-game winning streak for the Rams that they'll be trying to extend this weekend. CSU is led by their pitchers. Genevieve Kelly has a 14-8 record with a 2.52 ERA and 105 strikeouts. The other pitcher who is leading the Rams is sophomore Jessica Strickland. She is 11-6 with a 1.89 ERA and 79 strikeouts. Strickland is also killing the ball from the plate. So far this season she leads the team with 35 RBIs, four homeruns, and 56 hits. This year Strickland also leads the team, and the nation, with 19 doubles. The Rams lost their last four games of the regular season, getting swept by San Diego State and UNLV.

No. 4 University of Utah (20-27, 6-12)

The Utes were last year's Conference Tournament Champions, but are currently on a three-game losing streak in conference play. They finished up the regular season with a double header against Florida State. Utah is led by infielder Ivette Hernadez, who is hitting .305 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs.

No. 5 University of New Mexico (15-32, 5-15)

The Lobos started off the season great, but lost 11 of their last 12 games to fall back to fifth place in the conference, with their only win during that stretch coming against Utah. Third baseman Cassie Chavez anchors the Lobos with four homeruns, 19 RBIs and 12 doubles this season.

No. 6 San Diego State University (26-28, 4-16)

With their only win this season coming against Utah, the Aztecs will attempt to pick up a couple more this weekend in their last games of the regular season. The Aztecs are led by freshman outfielder Kristen Carraza. Batting .295 with seven doubles, three triples and 20 RBIs, she runs an Aztec team that usually competes for top spot in the division.

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