The Daily Aggie :: 06/07/10

The two WAC teams whose seasons continued into the weekend, the Wahine softball team and the Warrior baseball team, both wrapped up their seasons with losses (as a wise man once said, "It always ends in a loss.")

The Warrior baseball team fought valiantly in a seemingly hopeless situation as the Warriors were "stuck" in the regional with the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. The Warriors advanced all the way to the championship game of the regional losing to Arizona State 8-4. The Warriors were 2-2 in the regional with their two wins coming against San Diego and their two losses coming to No. 1 ASU.

The Wahine softball team's season came to an end on Saturday as they fell to Arizona. Hawai'i concluded the best season in their program's history and the WAC an outstanding showing in the NCAA Tournament with Fresno State losing to UCLA in the UCLA Regional and Hawai'i advancing all the way to the Women's College World Series falling to Arizona. It should be pointed out that Arizona and UCLA will play a best-of-three series for the national championship starting tonight.

The other big news from the WAC today is that the Mountain West Conference has elected to not extend an invitation to Boise State, for now. Our friends at Rush The Court have a very good post on the current expansion rumors and how the chips may fall.

Finally, be sure to check out Part Two of our season recap interview with Aggie baseball coach Rocky Ward.

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 06/03/10 :: Season Wrap Up Part II

bleedCrimson.net: Was this freshman class with Parker Hipp, Zach Fisher, Tyler Mack and Ryan Beck the best performing freshmen classes as a group that you've had?
Rocky Ward: Yeah. Clearly. We've had a couple years where we've had a freshman or two who've really played great. Hipp and Fisher were gonna play a lot of baseball but they got moved into an every day role in a lot of cases because of the injuries to Harty and Sodders and Beck and Mack moved themselves into weekend starting roles in league and really handled it well. It's probably the best group of freshman performances we've ever had. I don't know what'll happen but I think Parker Hipp and Zack Fisher are deserving of Freshman All-American honors. I would think that Ryan Beck would but his earned run average won't be good enough. He had three or four innings where he gave up big runs. Earned run average is exactly that, it's an average. There were just a couple times where he bobbled. Eighty percent of the time he was on the mound he was outstanding, the other twenty percent he was bad and it kind of hurt his overall average. But that's part of making the transition from high school baseball to Division I, top 100 baseball which is where we play. It's a pretty high level of baseball.

bc.net: Tyler Mack finished with six wins and the freshman record at New Mexico State is 10 wins. How impressive is the season that he had?
RW: Yeah, wins by a freshman is 10 by Gary Goldsmith. He's all over the record book. He played in 1990 and when you look at our stat book, games started in a season, 19, career 64, Gary Goldsmith. Innings pitched in a season, career innings pitched, he's the career strikeout leader. For Tyler Mack to win six is a big deal. Ten for a freshman is quite a year, 10 for anybody. I just went through the All-American list and I believe there are only eight guys on the All-American list in our region that had double-digits in wins. It's hard to do. It's hard to win double-digits in college. You only get 14 to 16 starts and so you've got to be pretty good. Ryan Beck tied the record for most appearances by a freshman with 26 and that happened to be held by Scott Coffman last year so we have back-to-back freshmen make a lot of appearances for us.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 06/04/10

We've posted Part One of our season wrap up interview with Aggie head baseball coach Rocky Ward. Part two will be posted on Monday. One of the things we wanted to highlight from part one was our conversation with Coach Ward about the Aggies' 12 outgoing seniors.

This is a group of kids that has gotten us back over the top. We had established ourselves in the Sun Belt and really struggled in the WAC and so when these guys came in, they didn't have a whole lot of tradition. The two teams prior to them hadn't had much success in this league and so they had to do it again. They had to do something nobody else had done and this particular group of guys was a pretty special group. When I talk to teams each year I explain to them, and they look at me like I'm nuts, but I say, "Listen, tradition is not something you can hold, it's not something you can touch. It's just something that exists. All you need to understand is that every player that has come before you in this program, you're standing on their shoulders and what they've done and what they've accomplished will make it easier for you to accomplish things. But you have a responsibility as a player to leave the program in a better condition than when you came into it." This group took that to heart and they have left this program in much better shape than what they inherited. If you continue to do that year to year and continue to have seniors like this that take their responsibility… This is a baseball program that when I first came here 14 years ago, really didn't care much about school. They really didn't care much about doing the right thing socially. They weren't a bunch of bad kids but they went out and did whatever they wanted to do. There wasn't any discipline in the program. There was random interest in school. In other words, the good students were good students and the bad students were bad students.

What we've worked hard with over the years is to develop an understanding and I talk to recruits about this a lot. We're looking for triple threat people. That means I want kids that take their school and academics seriously. If a kid's talent level, his mental abilities, are in a level where all he can do is make a 2.5, then I expect him to make a 2.5. If he makes a 2.4, I'll get after him. If he makes a 2.6, I'll praise him. Sometimes you praise the 2.6 student more than you praise the 4.0 student because it's a matter of ability. This particular group of people, not only were they really outstanding in what they did in their careers as baseball players but they were outstanding academically.

This group of seniors that have gone out, their GPA is well over 3.0. Several of those kids have already graduated in just a four year span which is hard to do in today's world. The average student doesn't graduate in four years anymore. It's pretty much a five year type thing. So they have helped me establish a responsibility among Aggie baseball players to get back to the triple threat person and that is a quality student, a quality citizen and a quality player. Clearly they were successful at a very high level in all three tiers. I think that this last semester will have been the eighth consecutive semester that New Mexico State baseball's team GPA was 3.0 or better. That's saying something considering what happened three years ago when they shortened the season. My kids have had to miss a lot of class and yet these kids continue to perform and do a good job.

From a standpoint of the social part, it's not just that these kids didn't get in trouble, it's about these kids took their responsibility to community service things. I had several kids who went to elementary schools and read to kids. That's a big deal for a kid who may not be terribly interested in school, to have an athlete come over and read to them, that can reenergize a second, third or fourth grader to work harder and do better. These kids have done a lot in all aspects of the program. I couldn't be prouder of each and every one of them and what they do. In every single case, whether they've graduated or not, they will all clearly graduate. The kids that haven't graduated are all within a semester. I think I have one of the 12 players who has two semesters to go and that was because he made a change in his degree program that put him behind a little bit.

These guys led by example in the three important areas of life and I'm proud of them.

We've also posted an article we wrote for The College Baseball Blog about Florida International's Garrett Wittels who, as of this post, has extended his hitting streak to 55 games. The college baseball record is 58 games set by Aggie head coach Rocky Ward's teammate on the 1987 Oklahoma State team, Robin Ventura. The '87 OSU team advanced all the way to the national championship game before losing to Stanford.

Here's the full conversation with Coach Ward regarding the streak:  Continue Reading This Post >>

Florida International's Garrett Wittels' Pursuit Of Historic Streak Not Just An Individual Accomplishment

What do New Mexico State head baseball coach Rocky Ward and the teammates of Florida International sophomore third baseman Garrett Wittels have in common? They've both been a part of historic hitting streaks. Ward was the catcher on the 1987 Oklahoma State squad when Robin Ventura set the collegiate record with 58 consecutive games with a hit while Wittels' teammates are witness to the longest hitting streak since that historic 1987 season.

Wittels carries the second longest hitting streak in college baseball history, 54 games, into the first game of the Miami Regional in Coral Gables, Fla. today at 12:00 p.m. ET where he and his teammates will square off against Texas A&M. While most of the national media focuses on the Wittels' individual accomplishment, New Mexico State head coach Rocky Ward explains that Wittels' teammates are just as much a part of the streak as Wittels is.

"What sounds like an individual accomplishment is very much a team accomplishment. I will forever remember being involved with that streak because it's not all about the player that does it," said Ward in an interview with bleedCrimson.net. "The team around him has so much to do with his success and that's what I enjoyed so much about being involved with Robin's streak is you felt like you had responsibility for it."  Continue Reading This Post >>

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Ward Interview :: 06/03/10 :: Season Wrap Up Part I

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the season overall? A number that will get overlooked at least immediately because of the way the season ended was the fact that the 2010 team won 36 games which is the 5th most in program history.
Rocky Ward: Yeah. The one thing that was so unique about this season was it was really broken down into three parts. The first 21 games we were 10-11, below .500. We were struggling finding an identity. We gave up 30 runs twice in that stretch. That's hard to do. For a team as good as we were to give up 30 runs twice. We did it once against Georgia State who ended up leading the nation in runs scored per game. For all intents and purposes one of the best offenses in the country. But the other one was St. Joseph's who had a pretty good offense but I don't think they ended up in the top 20 [runs scored] I believe. Just the essence of that part of the season was we win a game 33-1, which was the biggest winning margin of the season against St. Joseph's but then turn around and lose a game 35-16, to the same team. That was the essence of where we were in that first part of the season. We're going, "Are we gonna be good or are we not?" We were really good or really bad and then all of the sudden, a couple things happened. We made some changes coaching-wise to try to shore up our defense, go to Santa Barbara and lose a game against a very good pitcher, one of the better pitchers in the Big West, then go on to win 12 in a row.

At one point we won 24 of 27 and one of them was the tie. So in the middle of the season we were the hottest team in the country and that's where our ranking came in and that's where we established ourself at the top of the league. We led the league a couple different times through the season. Then you lose 12-of-13 to finish. So the 12 game winning streak you kind of gave back with the stuff at the end.

In analysis of it all, the amazing part of the 24 of 27 was the fact that we lost Ben Harty after the Santa Barbara series. He was our four-hole hitter and at the time was hitting over .400 with 12 home runs and our number one catcher. To go through that stretch and then a couple weeks later we lose Mike Sodders who had 15 home runs and was hitting .370 or .380 and to have been able to handle losing your top two offensive players and to be able to put that stretch together is what made us feel like as coaches, players and fans that this was a pretty special team. To be able to overcome those types of losses. It was a pretty special team. This was a group of really good hard-working kids. The years that Wesley Starkes, Chace Perkins, Ryan Aguayo, Parker Hipp and Nate Shaver, those guys in particular, had. They were the heart and soul of the team. They took it upon themselves to kind of replace Sodders' and Harty's numbers. That's basically what they did. I leave Leo [Aguirre] out of that because he one of the top three hitters and he was the only one left. He basically continued to do what he did. What the other guys bring up their games, it's hard to say they were playing over their heads, but they really played up when the pressure was on. That's what put us through that run.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 06/03/10

We'll be talking with Aggie baseball coach Rocky Ward today for our season wrap up interview and we'll have that posted over the next couple days as we put the final wraps on the Aggies' season.

The NCAA baseball regionals get underway tomorrow and we encourage you to head over to The College Baseball Blog for complete coverage.

The Aggie volleyball schedule for 2010 season has been released and the Aggies will face nine teams who reached the NCAA Tournament. There are a couple of oddities in this year's schedule as the Aggies will only have two non-conference home matches in September (1st and 3rd), the fewest we can remember in the past few seasons. The conference schedule is also interesting as New Mexico State starts off conference play at Louisiana Tech on a Thursday and will then host Louisiana Tech two nights later. The other oddity will be the three game homestand in the middle of October when the Aggies host Boise State on Thursday, Oct. 14th, then Idaho on Saturday Oct. 16th and then Nevada the following night on October 17th. Three matches in four days. To cap it off the Aggies will face Nevada five nights later in Reno.

Aggies Release 2010 Volleyball Schedule

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State volleyball head coach Mike Jordan announced 2010 schedule, Wednesday, June 2, which features matches against nine teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, including two matches with a Final Four team.

The Aggies will once again face Hawai'i in league play after the Wahine made it to the final four last season, while also facing powerhouses such as Arizona and Florida State.

"We are excited about the schedule. It's loaded with really good teams once again and we're looking forward to the challenge," Jordan said. "All three of the tournaments we are in this year are tough and we'll be on the road a little more than usual but it'll hopefully toughen us up and make it worthwhile when it comes to selection time for the NCAA Tournament."  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 06/02/10

The 2009-2010 WAC athletic season has come to a close and New Mexico State has recorded a third place finish, the school's highest, in the WAC Commissioner's Cup standings. The Aggies finished with 80.75 points, three points behind Fresno State and 11.5 points behind Boise State who won the Cup. The Aggies had previously finished fifth (2008-2009), fifth (2007-2008), eighth (2006-2007) and ninth (2005-2006).

The Aggies won three conference titles, the first ever title for women's cross country, the men's basketball tournament championship, their second in four seasons, and the men's golf tournament title, their third consecutive title and fourth in five years.

The Aggies also had regular season second place finishes in volleyball, baseball, a second place finish at the WAC Tournament in swimming and diving,

Not to take too much away from BSU's accomplishment but it should also be noted that Boise State participates in every sport the WAC competes in except for baseball (18 of 19 sports), giving them a pretty distinct advantage in points accumulation. In fact, there are actually only seven sports in which all nine members of the WAC participate in: women's cross country, women's soccer, volleyball, football, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's golf and men's golf.

If you take the point accumulation from only those seven sports in which all nine members participate in the standings would look like this: 1) Nevada - 57, 2) NM State 49.25, 3) Fresno State 46, 4) Boise State 45.5, 5) Idaho 39.5, 6) Utah State 39, 7) Hawai'i 30.25, 8) Louisiana Tech 29.75, 9) SJSU 24.75

The Aggies were hurt by their last place finish in football, accumulating just 1.5 points. However, NM State won three of the seven postseason championship in those sports (women's cross country, men's basketball and men's golf).

Either way you tally the points, the Aggies did well. A third place finish in the official commisioner's cup and second place finish in the sports that all nine WAC member participate in.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 06/01/10 :: A Look Back At Aggie Baseball's Outstanding Year

The 2010 NCAA Baseball Tournament field was announced yesterday and it should come as no surprise to anyone that Hawai'i was sent just down the road a little ways to Tempe to the Arizona St. Regional. The Warriors are in the four team regional with No. 1 overall seed Arizona State, UW-Milwaukee and San Diego. The Warriors have an 8-6 victory over San Diego this season.

As for the Aggie baseball team, their season came to a close last week after two games in the WAC Tournament. A much earlier exit than anyone anticipated or hoped for. However, despite losing 11 of their final 12 games, they still had a very very strong season. The Aggies finished with a record of 36-23-1 and 14-9-1 in conference play. The 36 wins is the 5th most in a single season during the program's 48 year history and the Aggies' 14 conference victories were the second most conference victories in a single season in the 18 years the team has been affiliated with a conference (Big West, Sun Belt and WAC). Only the 2003 team that finished 15-9 in the Sun Belt and the 2008 team that finished 15-17 in the WAC had more conference victories.

The Aggies were also ranked in the Top 25 for the second consecutive season when they earned a ranking of No. 20 from the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on April 5th.

The Aggies also had two significant win streaks during the season. The first was a 12-game win streak from March 20th through April 9th. During that streak the Aggies defeated UC-Santa Barbara twice, swept Wofford at home (four games), defeated Texas Tech in Midland, Tex. and then swept Houston Baptist (four games) on the road. The final game of the 12-game win streak came against Nevada to start conference play. That streak tied the school record for consecutive victories.

The second win streak was a 10-game win streak from April 18th through May 2nd. The Aggies started the streak with a pair of road victories over San Jose State followed by a four-game sweep of Sacramento State on the road. The Aggies then came home and swept four games against Louisiana Tech.

From March 20th through May 2nd the Aggies compiled a record of 24-2-1, easily the best stretch in Aggie baseball history (the 2009 team started the season 28-4, but the 2010 team's 24-2-1 stretch is much more impressive considering it included 16 games in conference play and a 14-1 road record).

While the offensive records didn't fall at the same rate they did last season (and admittedly, it's somewhat unrealistic to expect the Aggies to break many of the records they set last season) they did break the single season record for hits with 776 (previous record was 772 set last season) and the single season record for runs scored with 609 which eclipsed the 602 runs scored in the 2003 season. Individually, Ryan Aguayo tied the single season record for at-bats with 252 which he now shares with Alex Borgo (2003) and Chris Auten (2008).

The Aggies earned five WAC Hitter of the Week honors as Leo Aguirre was honored twice, Wade Reynoso, Ben Harty and Nate Shaver were each recognized once. Dan Reid was also named the WAC Pitcher of the Week once.

Two Aggies earned postseason All-WAC honors as Leo Aguirre was named to the First Team and Ryan Aguayo was named to the Second Team. Nate Shaver earned All-WAC Tournament honors as well.

As a team, the Aggies have posted 80 wins in the past two seasons which ties a record for the best two-year span in history with the 2002 and 2003 teams which also won 80 games. They have the best winning percentage over a two-year span of any Aggie ballclub, they also have the best conference record over a two-year span. Rocky also became the school's all-time winningest coach earlier in the season and keeps adding to that record with 334 victories at the conclusion of this season.

Despite the disappointment in not winning a WAC title this season, the Aggies have clearly established themselves as title contenders in the WAC and the 2011 season can't arrive soon enough.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 05/31/10

Happy Memorial Day Aggie fans, we'll return tomorrow to wrap up some thoughts on the baseball team's season. But first, a congratulations to Aggie senior right fielder Nate Shaver who was named to the 2010 WAC All-Tournament team. The Aggies were eliminated from the tournament earlier much earlier than the Aggies hoped but Nate Shaver certainly did his part for the Aggies in the two games.

And we mentioned it yesterday but here is video of the Wahine's walk-off two-run home run to send them to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. As Dave at the WAC Softball Blog mentioned, it's the first time that the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament has not advanced to the WCWS.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>