UTPB baseball, softball teams set for openers
Jan. 31 – Two new faces make their teams debut as the 2023 UTPB baseball and softball teams take the field for the first time.
Head baseball coach Gabe Grinder and head softball coach Samantha Mendez were hired last summer to take over the Falcons’ programs.
They are familiar with each other, having both coached at Ottawa University, an NAIA school in Ottawa, Kan., for the past four seasons.
Grinder was the head baseball coach and led the Braves to 117 wins over the past four seasons, including a 42-10 mark in 2022.
Mendez was an assistant coach for a program that won consecutive Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference crowns (2021, 2022) and qualified for the 2021 NAIA World Series.
Both will look to repeat that success in the Permian Basin as both programs have struggled in recent seasons.
Grinder and the baseball team dive straight into the four-game Lone Star Conference game in St. Mary’s, beginning with a contest at 6:00 p.m. Friday in San Antonio.
“We’re looking forward to starting it (season) and playing against an experienced team at St. Mary’s,” Grinder said during a Zoom call Monday. “We’ll soon find out where we are.
“Being tested early is huge for us; in our first round conference series, we look at the barrel of playing four playoff teams, three of which were in the top 25 last year.”
Grinder added that the Falcons will rely on their defense and gap-to-gap strength to compete.
He also wants to see how resilient his team is when faced with different situations in games and series.
Mendez will also see her team testing right away as the Falcons (weather permitting) will compete in the LSC-RMAC Challenge in Los Lunas, NM
UTPB meets Fort Lewis at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by a game against Colorado State-Pueblo at 1 p.m
Sunday’s doubleheader shows New Mexico Highlands at 2:00 p.m. and then Adams State at 4:00 p.m
Mendez looks forward to the challenge.
“I think it’s going really well,” she said. “The players play for each other.
“These girls bring the energy every day. We always preach in a competitive atmosphere; Energy and competitiveness are going to be a big deal, just competing all the time to know what it takes from first place to last to win a ball game.
>> LOOK AT THE SETUP: The UTPB men’s basketball team had a busy week, going 2-1 in the Lone Star Conference game with losses to Angelo State and Western New Mexico before clinching a win over Eastern New on Saturday Mexico at a high level ended the falcon dome.
Now the Falcons face off against West Texas A&M (Thursday 7:30 p.m.) and Lubbock Christian University (Saturday 3:00 p.m.).
Head coach Kyle Tolin is hoping to use the win over the Greyhounds as a stepping stone into the final weeks of the season and a playoff push.
“We have a group of people who really care, who try every day and fight every day,” Tolin said. “After Thursday’s game I talked about the next eight games to get guys out there who would fight with me.
“I think we have a chance to win every game and I tell the lads that. We have to fight, compete and find ways to win.”