The chase for the Mountain West crown enters the final three weeks.
The University of Nevada currently sits in fourth place, but may have an ace in the hole. That ace is the schedule, which suggests the Wolf Pack have the easiest road for the remainder of the season.
Nevada (25-19 overall, 4-5 MW) takes on New Mexico (19-26, 3-6) today through Sunday, and caps its home schedule next week against rival UNLV and ends the regular season May 9-11 at Boise State.
Another bonus, New Mexico and UNLV are the two worst hitting teams in the conference. The Lobos sport a .246 team batting average, while the Rebels sit at .266.
The three opponents are also the three worst pitching clubs in the conference. New Mexico has a team ERA of 4.01 followed by UNLV (4.06) and Boise State (4.17).
Although the stats are telling, Fallon native Sara Parsons said the Pack cannot overlook their opponents.
Currently, Nevada is fourth in the seven-team Mountain West standings behind San Diego State (26-14, 5-1), Fresno State (25-18, 6-3) and Colorado State (18-19, 4-2).
“It’s pretty important for us to not have any more losses,” Parsons said. “We have to keep in mind that we have one of the toughest conferences in the country. Even the bottom teams can take wins from us. We just have to play our game.”
A source of confidence for Nevada, though, was after a 10-0 drubbing in the first game against Colorado State. The Pack rallied for consecutive wins to take the series.
“It was huge,” Parsons said. “Colorado State is probably the toughest team in our conference. Coming back from a 10-0 loss is hard anyway, and then win the next two games really gave us a boost.”
The Pack, meanwhile, are the best hitting club at .307, anchored by a host of hitters above the .300 mark including Parsons.
Nevada leads nearly every offensive category in the conference and have tallied 50 more runs (233-183) than the next closest club, CSU.
But the hallmark for Nevada has been its power. The Pack have blasted 40 home runs including six by Parsons. The Fallon native said despite the offensive production, the club must stay focused against the shaky Lobos.
“We just have to go out there and have fun,” Parsons added. “We can’t think too much about it.”
Nevada’s pitching, however, has improved after a rocky start to the season. Karlyn Jones and Megan Dortch delivered strong performances last weekend as Nevada won a three-game series (2-1) against Colorado State.
The Pack’s defense is first in fewest errors (41) and second in the league in fielding percentage (.967) behind Fresno State (.968). Parsons said the defensive effort adds pressure to opposing hitters, who may press more than normal.
“This is probably the best defensive team I’ve been on here at Nevada,” she said. “If we make a mistake, we pick each other up. We hold them down, not let them score, they feel like they need to score more runs because they know our offense (will).”
Notes: Nevada slugger Erin Jones is tied for sixth nationally in doubles per game (.39), while Parsons and Karley Hopkins are tied for 61st (.30).