May 16, 2013
By Melissa Cebold | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas – The 2013 softball season has come to end for the UT Arlington Mavericks, wrapping up their season at the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
The Mavericks (25-28, 9-15 WAC) began their season on the road with the first 10 games of the season played in Orlando, Fla. and San Marcos, Texas. UT Arlington and opened conference play with a 15-11 record.
The final roster of 15 showcased nine newcomers.
“They really bonded together,” UT Arlington coach Kristie Fox said. “Our main focus was changing the culture and the ideology behind our team, and we worked really hard on that and I think the girls bought into that and that’s what kept us so strong through all the adversity that we faced.”
Thompson started all 53 games for the Mavericks. She is batted .259, third highest on the team. Thompson spent most of the season at second base, but also found herself at shortstop and in the outfield.
Lyles completed her final season as a Maverick with a 1.59 ERA in 228.1 innings pitched. She was and was named WAC Pitcher of the Week in back-to-back weeks in March (3/4 and 3/11) as well as in April (4/29). The Keller native was also named second team all-WAC and pitched her first no-hitter against Creighton on March 3.
“I wish I had more time with them,” Fox said about her departing senior class. "They’ll truly been missed. I think they’ve truly helped us set the foundation. They were leaders because they had to be and we didn’t have any other kind of leadership or anybody else willing to step up.
“Losing them is going to be tough and that’s a main focus for us in the fall is trying to figure out who’s going to be able to step up into the leadership roles because it truly has to come from within.”
Sophomore transfer Nina Villanueva also earned recognition during the Mavericks' first and last season in the WAC. Villanueva was named first-team all-WAC and named to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the WAC tournament.
She led the team with a batting average of .438 throughout league play, and posted a .444 batting average with four hits, one run and one RBI during the tournament. Villanueva also played solid defense for the Mavericks, stopping everything that came her why with no errors, six putouts and 10 assists in the WAC tourney.
“The girls on the team really look for her to try to step up into that leadership role,” Fox said “When you’re one of the most skilled people on the field, people naturally look towards you and Nina doesn’t necessarily want that role, but as she matures and grows up I think that she’s going to step into that role naturally.
“I think she really focuses on how she can help the team personally through her batting and her fielding. I look for her to really step into that role in the next few years. She was new this year even though she was a sophomore, she was new to the team and I think that when she gets a little more comfortable she’ll step into that role naturally.”
The Mavericks made it into the 2013 WAC tournament as the bottom seed, but that didn’t repress the teams’ competitive nature.
“Those girls were fighters,” Fox said. “They worked their butt off and never quit. There were a lot of times where it would have been really easy to quit and they never did, and that’s the kind of players that I want to have on my team. We’re going to get a little more athletic and a little more skilled, but I hope that they always keep that no-quit attitude and that fight.”
Coach Fox expressed that the each player had room for improvement and the team worked hard to meet her expectations.
“Every single person had a lot to learn and everybody improved in their own way,” Fox said. “I’m really looking forward to the future with our young classes because we’re pretty bottom heavy with sophomores and incoming freshmen. We’ve focused on being mature and trying to focus on staying composed. With the freshman having the WAC tournament under their belt I think that will really help the new incoming class, so we’ll have a little bit more experience."