The Wolf Pack softball team is just past the halfway point in one of the toughest schedules in school history and so far, so good. Through 34 games, Nevada is 23-11 with wins over three ranked opponents. That includes a historic 1-0 upset over then-No. 1 Arizona at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State.
The Wolf Pack received votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll this week.
The Wolf Pack is coming off a solid performance last week in which it swept its home-opening and Western Athletic Conference-opening series against Utah State. Nevada won the three games by a combined score of 25-3 and batted. 389 as a team while holding the Aggies to a .203 average in the three games. Senior Jordan McPherson picked up her third WAC Pitcher of the Week honor for her performance in the series. The Wolf Pack is now 13-4 all-time at Christina M. Hixson Softball Park, which opened last season.
Nevada returned the bulk of last year’s team that went 28-31 overall and came within a game of making it to its second-straight NCAA Tournament. Nevada brought back 15 letterwinners, all eight starters and its top two pitchers from last year’s team. Senior pitcher Jordan McPherson was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference this season. She was joined on the All-WAC Preseason Team by junior outfielder Brittany Puzey, who was an All-West Region selection in 2007. The Pack added four freshmen to the mix this year and the other newcomer is senior pitcher Richelle Villescas, a transfer from Temple. The Pack is coached by Michelle Gardner in her sixth year overall and at Nevada.
ABOUT THIS WEEKEND
The University of Nevada continues the 2008 campaign with a five-game road trip to the Lone Star State and the Land of Enchantment. First up is a doubleheader at UTEP in El Paso, Texas on Thursday. Then the Wolf Pack returns to WAC play with a three-game set at New Mexico State in Las Cruces. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday and then a single game on Sunday before Nevada returns home.
UTEP is 22-13 on the season. The Miners are coached by Kathleen and James Rodriguez, who are in their fifth year at the school. Offensively, Camille Carrera is batting .373 while Stacie Townsend is 10-6 in the circle with a 2.16 earned-run average. Nevada is 6-1 all-time against UTEP.
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE
New Mexico State enters the series with a 17-22 overall record and a 1-2 mark in WAC play as the Aggies just returned from a WAC-opening road trip to No. 15 Hawaii, where they took one of three from the No. 15 Rainbow Wahine.
The Aggies were picked for fourth place in the WAC Preseason Coaches Poll, one spot behind Nevada. They are coached by Kathy Rudolph, who is in her sixth season at NMSU and her 11th season overall as a head coach. The Aggies are led offensively by Stephanie Herrera, a preseason All-WAC selection as a utility player. The senior is batting .407 with 13 stolen bases on the year. In the circle, NMSU is led by Kim Watson, who is 13-13 with a 2.05 earned-run average.
The all-time series between Nevada and New Mexico State is tied at 6.
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