Aggie Softball Releases Demanding 2012 Schedule

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Less than six months after completing the program's best season in school history, New Mexico State softball head coach Kathy Rodolph announced a demanding 2012 schedule Friday that features 19 games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, including defending national champion Arizona State.

The Aggies maneuvered through a difficult schedule last season en route to a program record 44 wins and their first NCAA Tournament victory. NM State also claimed its first outright regular season Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship as well as its first WAC Tournament title. Rodolph took home her first WAC Coach of the Year honor as a result of the successful season.

The 2012 schedule pits the defending WAC champs against a pair of 2011 College World Series participants and three other NCAA Super Regional teams from a year ago - all from the Pac-12. NM State also plays 13 additional games against fellow 2011 tourney teams. The Aggies will also host the WAC Tournament for the second time in three seasons to conclude the year.

"We've built a very tough schedule to ready us for conference play," said Rodolph. "In order to be where we want to be at the end of the 2012 season we need to play the best competition possible in our non-conference schedule. I am confident our team will embrace the challenges this schedule presents and prepare for the battles that lie ahead."

NM State opens its 2012 slate with a pair of home tournaments in February. In the Hotel Encanto Invitational Feb. 10-12, the Aggies host four teams including NCAA teams Indiana of the Big Ten and Illinois-Chicago of the Horizon League. In between tourneys, the Aggies host I-10 rival UTEP at the NM State Softball Complex for a Valentine's Day battle.

The Aggies' annual Troy Cox Classic begins the following weekend Feb. 17-19 with four more teams visiting the Mesilla Valley. New Big Ten member Nebraska highlights the field, as the Cornhuskers battle the Aggies twice. Rodolph's team takes its first road trip of the season to El Paso to complete the I-10 Rivalry on Feb. 21.

The prestigious Cathedral City Classic presents a daunting slate for the Aggies as they take on four tourney teams over three days in Palm Springs, Calif., Feb. 24-26. NM State faces NCAA participant San Diego State on the opening night. The day two slate includes WCWS team Cal and Long Island University. The Aggies wrap up the tourney with back-to-back games against Super Regional Pac-12 foes in Oregon and Stanford.

The Crimson and White continues its road swing at the UNLV Invitational to open March 2-4. Power conference teams Illinois and Seton Hall join host UNLV and Florida Atlantic to make up the field in Las Vegas. NM State returns home for a single game against Valparaiso on March 6 before hitting the road again.

On March 9-11 the Aggies take part in the Arizona State Invitational for a second straight season. NCAA Tournament participant Pacific welcomes the Aggies to the tourney followed by a matchup against Creighton. NM State plays Valparaiso again on day two in Tempe before facing 2011 NCAA squad East Carolina. The Aggies end the tourney against the defending NCAA champion Sun Devils on March 11.

NM State hosts Rio Grande rival New Mexico on March 14 before taking its first weekend off of the season for a spring break. The Aggies return to Tucson, Ariz., the site of its first NCAA Regional last year, to battle Arizona on its home field in a doubleheader a week later on March 21.

Not on the schedule this season are games against budding rival, and former WAC member, Boise State. New WAC affiliate member for softball, Brigham Young, replaces the Broncos on the 2012 conference slate. The Cougars, a 2011 NCAA team, and Aggies open their WAC schedules against each other in Provo on March 23.

Perennial softball power Hawai'i visits the Mesilla Valley for the Aggies' conference home opener March 30-31. UH was the only school to win a WAC series against NM State last season. The Aggies travel to Ruston, La., the following weekend to battle Louisiana Tech.

NM State wraps up the Rio Grande Rivalry and its non-conference slate with a trip to Albuquerque on Apr. 10 to battle the Lobos. Nevada comes to town Apr. 13-14 to resume WAC play.

The Aggies return to the site of their WAC Tournament Championship Apr. 20-21 in Fresno, Calif. The series marks the final regular season battle between NM State and perennial NCAA squad Fresno State as conference foes. The Aggies won their first series against the Bulldogs last season before defeating them at Bulldog Diamond for the WAC title.

Utah State invades Las Cruces for NM State's senior weekend on Apr. 27-28. The Crimson and White wrap up the regular season with a trip to San Jose State May 4-5.

The Aggies will host the WAC Tournament for the second time in three seasons at the NM State Softball Complex in 2012. The top six conference squads will vie for the WAC title and an NCAA automatic bid May 9-12.

NM State returns 13 players from their NCAA debut last season including 2011 All-WAC honorees senior Tiare Jennings, junior Alex Newman, junior Teresa Conrad and sophomore Valerie Swedberg. Nine freshmen join the veterans this season led by National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) high school All-American Karysta Donisthorpe of Farmington, N.M.