ENMU set to name new softball coach

By Dave Wagner

For the second time in three years, the Eastern New Mexico University softball program is looking for a new coach in January.
Kevin Blaskowski, who was hired in May 2003 after a five-year stint at Southern Arkansas, has left the school to start up a new program at Lone Star Conference South Division rival West Texas A&M. He was hired in late December when WT decided to give the go-ahead to a program which had been placed on hold for three years due to budgetary constraints.
“I’ve always kind of kept my eye on the situation,” Blaskowski said Monday from Canyon, Texas. “I’ve always felt that’s an area where softball could’ve been successful.”
He said WT decided to give the program the go-ahead for a 2006 start shortly after Thanksgiving. “Opportunity-wise, as a coach, it’s a great situation,” he said.
Before coming to ENMU, Blaskowski started the program at Southern Arkansas and led the Riderettes to a 136-126 record. He had previously coached at Kansas Wesleyan, Washburn (Kan.) and Phillips University (Okla.) in a 13-year career.
Blaskowski’s departure was not announced by the school. Athletic director Mike Maguire said Monday that a new coach is in place and an announcement will be made, perhaps today, once a contract is signed.
Two years ago, co-coaches Kathleen and James Rodriguez left in January to start a program at Division I Texas-El Paso, less than two years after leading the Zias to the 2001 NCAA Division II national tournament.
The school hired Ron Landschoot on an interim basis, and he directed the Zias to a 24-29 record in 2003.
The Zias, who were 11-36 last season under Blaskowski and 1-19 in the six-team South, were picked for sixth place this year in the conference’s preseason poll, garnering only 20 points and finishing 30 points behind fifth-place Texas A&M-Kingsville. While each of the other teams collected at least one first-place vote, ENMU received just one vote to finish as high as fourth place.
With several players signed by Blaskowski, though, the Zias were hoping to be much-improved this spring.
“They’re going to be much better,” he said. “They’ve got a strong nucleus over there, and I think they’ll do a great job.”
Angelo State, the defending NCAA Division II national champion, was picked as the favorite with 85 points and 11 of 16 first-place votes. Midwestern State earned the nod in the North with 109 points and 13 of 16 first-place votes.
Maguire said Amber Daniel, a graduate assistant, has been running preseason workouts for the team until the new coach comes in. The start of the season is not far off — the Zias play Feb. 4-5 in the Angelo State Classic at San Angelo, Texas.

Hounds fourth in South — The LSC has also released its baseball poll, and ENMU was picked for fourth place with 48 points in the six-team South Division, which also includes first-year program Angelo State.
Perennial power Abilene Christian was picked to win the division, receiving 13 of 16 first-place votes. Southeastern Oklahoma was tabbed the favorite in the North Division, receiving 74 points and nine of 13 first-place ballots.
ENMU went 19-27-1 in 2004, including 8-13-1 for fourth place in the South. The Greyhounds also open their season on Feb. 4 when they begin a three-game series against Sul Ross State at Alpine, Texas.

LSC polls
Baseball
South Division
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts.
1. Abilene Christian (13) 92
2. Tarleton State (1) 72
3. Texas A&M-Kingsville (2) 66
4. Eastern New Mexico 48
5. West Texas A&M 32
6. Angelo State 20
Preseason player of the year: Cody Cure, Sr. OF, Abilene Christian.
North Division
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts.
1. SE Oklahoma (9) 74
2. Central Oklahoma (3) 67
3. East Central (1) 51
4. Northeastern State 31
5. Cameron 29
6. SW Oklahoma 21
Preseason player of the year: Bernardo Estrada, Sr. OF, Southeastern Oklahoma.

Softball
South Division
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts.
1. Angelo State (11) 85
2. Tarleton State (2) 68
3. Texas Woman’s (1) 62
4. Abilene Christian (1) 51
5. Texas A&M-Kingsville (1) 50
6. Eastern New Mexico 20
Preseason player of the year: Stefani Easter, Sr. C, Texas Woman’s.
North Division
Team (1st-pl. votes) Pts.
1. Midwestern State (13) 109
2. SE Oklahoma (3) 98
3. Northeastern State 69
4. SW Oklahoma 56
5. Central Oklahoma 53
6. East Central 38
7. Cameron 25
Preseason player of the year: Brittany Wilson, Jr. P, Midwestern State.