The School: The New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. In other words, they started as an A&M, they use a dark shade of red, and they go by the Aggies. You’d think the school they would choose to imitate would be Texas A&M, and you’d be wrong.
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico. I actually don’t have anything bad to say about Las Cruces (Spanish for “The Cruces.”) It’s a decent town for its size (a little over 100,000) with an agreeable climate (basically “Phoenix, but 95 instead of 120 in the summer”) and some nearby mountains, and a pretty good local cuisine that’s basically “what if we just threw green chiles in everything imaginable?”
(Note: throwing green chiles in everything imaginable is, in fact, a very good idea.)
The Mascot: Pistol Pete, and if you’re thinking “wait, isn’t that Oklahoma State’s mascot,” you would be correct. New Mexico State pays Oklahoma State $10 annually to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit that Oklahoma State filed when it noticed the similarities between its own Pistol Pete and the New Mexico State version, and by “similarities” I mean “they’re the same fucking mascot.”
I mean, sure, the New Mexico State version wears crimson and the mustache looks a little different. Okay, they’re the same thing. Anyway, it’s good to know that it costs $10 a year to use Oklahoma State’s mascot but just alter the colors a bit.
Also why the “Aggies” went with “Pistol Pete” is not clear.
Record: 24-32. 10-20 in the WAC. Wait, don’t you have to be over .500 to make it in this thing?
How’d they get here? ... oh, right, they won four games in four days to claim the WAC championship. I guess that makes them the annual “team that has no business being here but will claim a regional 4-seed and promptly go two and que because they’re not all that good.”
Best win: Won 3-1 at the Grand Canyon Fightin’ Bryce Drews on April 2. They also lost the other five games they played against Grand Canyon, but never mind that.
Worst loss: There are a lot to choose from, but one that really stands out for awfulness is a 19-2 home loss to New Mexico on March 29. Yeah, picking a midweek game is kind of cheating. But also, losing 19-2 to a team that finished 21-33 and tied for last place in the Mountain West is, well...
Most terrifying batter: There’s really only one choice here. Sophomore catcher Logan Gallina has 21 homers on the season — leading the team by 14 longballs — and also sports a .333 batting average and this haircut:
The haircut alone is terrifying.
Best pitcher: So New Mexico State’s pitching staff is either really bad or there are some weird park effects (Las Cruces is at 3900 feet above sea level) making everyone look bad. That said, redshirt sophomore Ian Mejia is roughly the only active pitcher on this staff whose stat line isn’t embarrassing; the righthander has a 4.24 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 93.1 innings, though opponents are hitting .284 against him. On the other hand, he’s probably getting the start against Oregon State in the Aggies’ opener, so there’d be zero chance Vanderbilt sees him if that’s the case.
Best NCAA Tournament result: Well, New Mexico State has made the tournament four times and in only one of those — 2003 — did they actually win a game, beating UNLV 14-12 (not a misprint) in the Tempe Regional before dropping two in a row. So by default, it’s 2003.
Should Vanderbilt be scared? Vanderbilt should be scared if they play New Mexico State, because it means they’ve likely fallen into the loser’s bracket by dropping the opener to San Diego. But no, nothing about this team is even remotely scary. Even the big bat seems like he’ll probably be less big when taken out of the dry air and high-ish altitude of Las Cruces and dropped into the cool, misty Pacific Northwest.