By Dave Wagner
Graduate assistant Amber Daniell, thrown into the fire in a hurry with the Eastern New Mexico University softball team, will get a real coaching baptism over the next few weeks.
Daniel, a recent Baylor University graduate who played her last two years in college for the Lady Bears, will handle the coaching chores for the next month or so while first-year head coach Armando Quiroz recovers from from a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula suffered last week when he stepped on a helmet during a practice.
Daniel said that because his wife is still in Arizona, Quiroz has returned there to have her help in his recuperation.
She coached the Zias in Wednesday’s 8-1, 10-0 sweep of College of the Southwest at Hobbs. The competition figures to be stiffer this weekend when ENMU (3-4) opens its home schedule with noon doubleheaders today against New Mexico Highlands and on Saturday and Sunday against Western New Mexico.
It will be a busy weekend at ENMU, with the baseball team (3-1) hosting Lone Star Conference North Division power Central Oklahoma (1-0) in 1 p.m. doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Greyhound Field.
Western (4-4), coming off a trip last season to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight softball tournament, took three of four last weekend from Highlands (1-3) at Silver City.
The Zias dominated the first-year CSW program, which was playing its first games. It was just the medicine the doctor ordered after ENMU struggled in the season-opening Angelo State Classic.
“It was more of a momentum boost leading to a six-game (homestand),” Daniel said. “The Angelo tournament was so rough on us, but I feel like we’re about there. We left a lot of runners on base (at CSW), but we got a lot of runners in.”
Daniel said Rosemary Moreno would get the start in the circle for one of today’s games, with either junior Patricia Gonzales (1-2) or junior Amanda Nightingale (1-0) going in the other.
ENMU baseball coach Phil Clabaugh said UCO, which nipped Emporia State 2-1 in 10 innings in its opener on Tuesday, should provide a stiff test for the Greyhounds in the first of six, four-game crossover series against the LSC North.
“I think we can score and I think we can play defense,” Clabaugh said. “We’re going to have to do that this weekend to stay with these guys.
“Playing teams like this will definitely expose our weaknesses. I definitely think we won’t have many questions about strengths and weaknesses after this weekend.”
Clabaugh and UCO coach Wendell Simmons have the longest tenures in the LSC, both coming to their schools in 1992. Simmons has a 434-241 record for the Edmond-based Bronchos, and owns the five winningest seasons in school history.
The Hounds are coming off a split last Sunday against Colorado School of Mines at Greyhound Field, drubbing the Orediggers 18-2 in the second game after losing the opener 9-0.
“We’ve got to be sound,” he said. “Of course, if we do the things we’re capable of, they’ll have to be pretty sound too.”
Junior Kelly Crain (1-1) and senior Brett Scherer (0-0) are Eastern’s scheduled starters on Saturday, with sophomore Josh Brazell (0-0) and senior Trevor Davis (2-0) penciled in for Sunday.