Lobo Round-Up: Victories, Freshman Standouts, and a Season Ends

Lobo Round-Up: Victories, Freshman Standouts, and a Season Ends

The UNM Lobos are experiencing a mix of emotions across their athletic programs this week. Here’s a closer look at the exciting wins, a bittersweet season finale, and some additional details you might have missed:

Softball Takes Aim at In-State Rival

The UNM Lobos softball team (16-12, 6-3 C-USA) will hit the road on Tuesday for a doubleheader against their familiar foes, the New Mexico State Aggies (16-12, 6-3 C-USA). The Lobos hold a commanding historical lead in the all-time series record at 85-71. However, rivalry aside, the series went in favor of both teams last year, with each winning on their home turf. This upcoming encounter will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. Both UNM and NMSU are currently sitting comfortably in third place within their respective conferences, making for a potentially heated battle. Keep an eye on UNM’s red-hot hitter Rachael Hathoot, boasting a scorching .373 batting average and riding a 14-game hitting streak, currently the third-longest in the NCAA.

Freshmen Phenoms Shine on the Track

The Lobo Track & Field team is witnessing the rise of two remarkable freshmen athletes, Mercy Kirarei and Evans Kiplagat. Both recently earned Mountain West Athlete of the Week honors after dominating performances in their season-opening 1500m races. Kirarei, competing in the women’s 1500m, clocked a time of 4:18.47, ranking her fifth-fastest nationally (after altitude conversion) and placing her first in the West Region and the Mountain West Conference. Kiplagat wasn’t to be outdone, securing the top spot in the men’s 1500m with a time of 3:45.22 (after altitude conversion), which currently ranks eighth in the nation and places him first in both the West Region and the Mountain West Conference. The Lobo track team will be showcasing their talents this coming weekend, splitting their squad between prestigious early-season meets on the West Coast and in Texas.

Doubleheader Sweep Secures Baseball Series Win

The UNM Lobos baseball team (15-9, 6-3 MW) solidified their second Mountain West series victory with a commanding doubleheader sweep over the San Jose State Spartans (8-18, 2-10 MW). Senior catcher Jake Holland led the Lobos’ offensive charge, going an impressive 5-for-6 with a staggering three home runs and nine RBIs across both games. Holland drove in seven of those runs in the second game alone with his second and third homers of the day, extending UNM’s lead in the crucial bottom of the sixth inning. He’s currently riding a hot streak, having homered in four consecutive games and driving in at least one run in each of his last five appearances. Holland also leads the conference in doubles (13) and is tied for the most home runs (9) so far this season. Freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Castillo got his first taste of victory in relief during the second game. He pitched a career-high five innings, striking out a career-high seven batters and shutting out the Spartans completely. With this series win, the Lobos climb to within a half-game of first place in the Mountain West standings, trailing only the Air Force Falcons (10-12, 6-2 MW).

Men’s Basketball Bows Out with Heads Held High

The UNM Lobos’ remarkable 2024 season came to an end with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to the Clemson Tigers (22-11) by a score of 77-56. Despite the defeat, Head Coach Richard Pitino expressed immense pride in what his team accomplished. The Lobos captured the Mountain West Championship title, securing their first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. Senior forward Nelly Junior Joseph led the Lobos in scoring with 14 points and 12 rebounds, recording his ninth double-double of the season. While their championship dreams were cut short, the Lobos have a strong foundation to build upon for next season. Look for key returners to step up alongside the continued development of talented youngsters.

Golf Team Makes a Statement at Hootie at Bulls Bay

While other Lobo teams grabbed headlines this week, the No. 19 ranked UNM men’s golf team quietly delivered a strong performance at the prestigious Hootie at Bulls Bay tournament, finishing as runner-up. The Lobos displayed their talent throughout the competition, carding a final score of 9-under par. They fell just five shots short of champion LSU (14-under) but finished comfortably ahead of the remaining field. This impressive showing marks the Lobos’ sixth top-three finish of the season, including a streak of two consecutive runner-up finishes.

Sophomore Cristian Trevino led the way for the Lobos with a three-day total of 219 strokes. Look for the team to climb the rankings as they continue their season with the ASU Thunderbird Intercollegiate coming up next on April 12th and 13th.