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COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: UTPB softball continues early success; women's basketball welcomes bye date - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: UTPB softball continues early success; women's basketball welcomes bye date

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2020 6:45 pm

Just 15 games into the 2020 season and the UTPB softball team is two victories from matching last year’s total.

The Falcons (8-7) are coming off a five-game tournament, going 3-2 over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona.

UTPB opened up the tournament with victories against California University of Pennsylvania (7-6) and Fort Lewis (3-0) on Friday before dropping games against Lindenwood (11-9) and Simon Fraser (2-1) on Saturday.

The Falcons ended the weekend on the right note with a 6-4 win against Hawaii at Hilo.

“I think we’ve talked about it and I think we’ve had a little bit of a streak going (on Friday),” UTPB head coach Tiala Tagaloa said. “Then we started playing not to lose and I think we got a little bit caught up into that on Saturday.”

But for Tagaloa, Sunday’s win came as the result of a change in mindset for the team.

“We were able to refocus over the weekend and we just focused on going back to the little things and we were able to come through,” Tagaloa said.

It’s early in the season and Lone Star Conference play hasn’t officially started yet but the Falcons are already off to a better start than they were last year at this point.

After the first 15 games last season, the Falcons had just two victories, but Tagaloa and her players are trying not to get complacent.

“Everyone keeps talking about that but I’m just focused on our next game on Saturday,” Tagaloa said. “If we can just embrace the challenge of whatever position we’re in and whatever challenge we’re in, we’re going to do great things.”

>> NEW HIRE: The UTPB athletic department introduced Lynsey Winkler as the new women’s soccer head coach at Monday’s press conference.

Winkler comes in after previously serving the past three seasons as the assistant coach at Whitman College, an NCAA Division III program in in Walla Walla, Washington.

Winkler thinks her previous experience has helped prepare her for the new challenge that lies ahead.

“I think my experience from coaching the high school level and at Walla Walla at the collegiate level has taught me a lot of things,” Winkler said. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is establishing the relationship with the players and I look forward to doing that here.”

Winkler inherits a soccer program that posted a 1-14-1 overall record (1-11-1 in the Lone Star Conference) last year. The team finished last in the conference standings.

>> NEEDED BREAK: For UTPB women’s basketball head coach Rae Boothe and her players, Thursday’s bye comes at an opportune time on the schedule.

The Falcons, who have been plagued by injuries and illness this season, will get a chance to rest a little more this week.

The Falcons will only have one game this week when UTPB (9-16 overall, 6-13 in conference) faces Western New Mexico (5-14, 8-15) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Silver City, N.M.

“This bye on Thursday is a perfect opportunity for us to heal,” Boothe said. “Of our 11-man roster, we dressed 10 and maybe five of them were healthy last week so we’re hoping that they can heal and be at their best by Saturday.”

The Falcons are coming off a week that saw them fall to St. Edward’s, 78-62, and to St. Mary’s, 81-72, on the road.

“We need it right now,” Kristian James said of Thursday’s bye. “We feel like we’ll be ready on Saturday.”

>> DIAMOND DUST: After settling for a series split against St. Edward’s at home, the UTPB baseball team (3-7 overall, 3-7 in conference) will now get ready for its longest road trip of the regular season when the Falcons face Arkansas-Fort Smith (6-4, 6-4) in a four-game series starting with a 3 p.m. contest Friday before wrapping up with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.

“This is the hardest, longest road trip of the year,” UTPB head coach Brian Reinke said. “It’s 10 hours up there.

“We’ve played well up there but every year is different so we’re going to have to pitch well and hit better than we did this past weekend.”

Odessa, TX

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