As spring semester is ahead of us and the sweet taste of warm weather is just around the corner for Las Vegas, this means UNLV Softball season is so close.
The fully-talented team this year are working hard as they are hungrier than ever for a successful season.
Each year, UNLV has inched closer and closer to winning the Mountain West (MW) Conference. During the 2021 season, despite it being shortened due to COVID-19, the team finished an impressive 17-7 in conference play and 25-15 overall.
The Rebels placed second in the conference last year and this season they’re hoping for a first place finish.
“That has been our goal since I have been a freshman here and we have put in a lot of hard work every single year,” fifth year senior Mia Trejo said. “We have gotten closer and better each year… that is all I want for this team.”
Mia Trejo is one of the many talented players on this 2022 roster as she was named to her third consecutive MW All-Conference team along with Jenny Bressler and Denise Armendariz.
“We all know how to make it fun and we all make it effortlessly and don’t take it too seriously,” Mia Trejo said. “We all know that we each care about this sport, nobody wants to fail, nobody wants to not succeed. So knowing that we all know how to make it fun, it comes really easy to us.”
Mia Trejo passes advice down to help out many of her teammates and one specific special one being her sister, Alyssa Trejo.
“We are super close to begin with, our whole family is super close,” Mia Trejo said, “being able to share this experience with a piece of my family it’s honestly a really cool experience.”
UNLV is picked as the pre-season favorite for winning the conference heading into the year. The last time it was picked was back in 1995, the same year the Rebels reached the Women’s College World Series.
A lot of similar faces, mixed with some new talent, will be seen out on the field, with eight starters and 13 letterwinners returning. It will take every player on the team in order for the Rebels to go far.
“Everyone has their job to do- whether that’s starting pitching or coming in to relieve the last two innings,” senior Jenny Bressler explains, “both of them are equally as important just kind of knowing that each player individually means something to this team, this team is going to be very important.”
Bressler finished the 2021 season with a team-best of 1.27 earned runs average (ERA) in 82.2 innings pitched, also leading the MW in opposing batting average (.180).
With many of the same players returning out on the field, there are some fresh faces to the team, with incoming freshmen and transfers. One of those being senior Siena Sandoval who transferred from Utah Valley.
Sandoval batted .301 with eight home runs, nine doubles and 32 RBIs while appearing in 50 games, 48 of which she started in. She was third on the team with 11 multi-hit games while having five multi-RBI contests including a two-hit, five-RBI game at New Mexico State which included a home run.
Before playing a season at Utah Valley, Sandoval spent two years at Illinois making the transitioning of schools a little easier.
“I was really impressed, people show up early to practice, and want to hit,” Sadoval said in her experience of joining the Rebels, “whether you are in the lineup or not everyone is here early, everyone is hitting, everyone does what everyone else is doing at practice.”
“There is no separation between the team, I think that has been one of the key points amongst our team. I feel like the staff here and the coaches are really on top of everything. It makes it feel like I am not alone or lost.”
With a team filled with talented, hard-working players led by an impressive staff and coaches, the goals of a successful season doesn’t seem too far out of reach for the Rebels.
Head coach Kristie Fox, as a full time mom and coach is involved every step of the way. Fox was named MW Coach of the Year for the previous season.
With the clear intention behind a close team full of leaders and driven athletes, who also love the game and soak in the joy. These Rebels are ready for a groundbreaking season right in front of them.
UNLV opens its season hosting the Rebel Kickoff at Eller Media Stadium with BYU on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m. Students get free admission and tickets can be purchased at unlvtickets.com