Aggies Picked Third In WAC Softball
The defending Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champion New Mexico State softball team placed three players on the 2012 preseason all-conference team as the league's coaches picked the Aggies to finish third in the WAC, the conference office announced Tuesday afternoon.
Senior outfielder Tiare Jennings earned her third consecutive preseason selection. Additionally, two Aggies claimed their first preseason accolades in junior utility Teresa Conrad and sophomore utility Valerie Swedberg.
It marks the fourth straight season that multiple Aggies earned spots on the WAC preseason team. The selection of three Aggies ties the 2010 preseason for the most honors since NM State joined the WAC prior to the 2006 season.
NM State was one of just three 2012 WAC squads with three or more all-league selections. Hawai'i placed four players on the team while Fresno State also garnered three selections.
A three-year starter, Jennings earned first team WAC honors in 2011 and 2010 after garnering second team recognition in 2009. She also claimed 2011 Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-West Region Second Team honors. Two years prior Jennings became the first freshman in school history to be named to the NFCA All-West Region first team.
Last season, Jennings tied an NCAA record of five consecutive games with a home run spanning April 9-19. She currently stands second on the NM State all-time runs scored list and third on the all-time home run, RBI, walks and total bases lists entering the 2012 season.
Jennings ranked among the top five last year in nine league statistical categories including home runs (15), RBI (64), on-base percentage (.517), walks (54), total bases (119), runs scored (59), slugging percentage (.680), batting average (.366) and hits (64). She is also the current all-time Aggie batting average leader with a .374 clip at the plate through three seasons.
Off the field, Jennings earned All-WAC Academic Team honors for the second time in her career last season.
After her second season as an Aggie, Conrad almost doubled her batting average from .183 in 2010 to .341 in 2011. She also quadrupled her home run numbers from two as a freshman to eight in her second year.
Last season the utility player ranked sixth in the WAC with 42 RBI. Her 40 runs scored rated sixth in the conference. Conrad also stood sixth in the league with 11 doubles. Her .567 slugging percentage rated ninth in the league. Conrad's .407 career on-base percentage through two seasons currently ranks fifth on the NM State all-time list.
Off the field, Conrad claimed CoSIDA All-District VI Second Team honors for the first time. A marketing major, she earned WAC All-Academic Team honors in each of her seasons as an Aggie.
Swedberg recorded a spectacular first season in an Aggie uniform in 2011. She earned WAC Freshman of the Year, WAC Tournament MVP and first team All-WAC honors last year. She ended the season on a 13-game hitting streak that included her NCAA debut.
She went 3-for-3 in her NCAA Tournament debut against Texas Tech on May 20 and finished the NCAA weekend 7-of-9. That performance included a perfect 6-of-6 in two games against the Red Raiders with a home run in each TTU contest.
Swedberg ranked among the top five in seven league statistical categories including home runs (13), RBI (52), total bases (113), slugging percentage (.748), batting average (.377), doubles (13) and triples (2). She hit .377 at the plate to rank third on the team. In her rookie season, Swedberg posted 52 RBI - the fifth-best mark all-time at NM State. Her .748 slugging percentage ranks fourth all-time on the Aggie single-season list.
Off the field, Swedberg earned All-WAC Academic Freshman Team honors last season.
In the preseason coaches' poll, New Mexico State received a total of 37 points and received two first-place votes to rank third in the 2012 predictions. For some perspective, the Aggies were picked fourth prior to last season's championship run with a total of 28 points.
NM State made its first NCAA appearance in program history in 2011. The Aggies also claimed their first WAC regular season title and WAC Tournament Championship last season.
Aggie head coach Kathy Rodolph earned 2011 WAC Coach of the Year honors after leading NM State to a program-best 44-17 record last season.
Fresno State took the top spot in the preseason poll for the 14th time in the last 17 years with 44 points and three first-place votes. Hawai'i came in second, picking up two first-place votes and 42 points, followed by the Aggies.
Brigham Young received the other first-place vote and came in fourth place with 35 points. Nevada was picked to finish fifth with 20 points, followed by San Jose State and Louisiana Tech tied for sixth with 17 points apiece. Utah State rounded out the poll in eighth place with 12 points.
Aggies Gaining Recognition in Multiple Polls
A year removed from its best season in program history, the New Mexico State softball team is gaining recognition in multiple preseason polls this year.
The Aggies were one of 41 squads nationally to receive a vote in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Preseason Top 25 Poll released last week.
It marked the second time in three seasons that the Aggies earned recognition in a preseason national poll. NM State previously earned a preseason vote in the ESPN.COM/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll prior to the 2010 season. But this season, NM State did not receive any votes in that preseason poll also released last week.
Two internet polling sites also have recognized the Aggies this preseason in their respective rankings. The Mid-Major Top 25 Softball Poll, voted upon each week by a consortium of college softball bloggers from around the country, ranks NM State at No. 10 as one of four WAC teams among its top 10 to begin the season.
Additionally, the website CollegeSportsMadness.com ranked the Aggies at No. 39 nationally in its preseason poll. On its WAC preseason all-conference team the CSM staff awarded Jennings, Conrad and Swedberg first team honors and named Aggie junior pitcher Alex Newman to its second team.
The Aggies begin their 2012 campaign Friday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. MT, against the Indiana Hoosiers at the NM State Softball Complex to kickoff the annual Hotel Encanto Invitational that runs through the opening weekend.