Open Announce

Lobo Softball Signs Nine to 2024 Class

by Allison Weiss

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— University of New Mexico head softball coach Nicole Dickson and staff signed nine to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.

The class features two outfielders, two infielders, two pitchers, a pitcher who can also be a utility player, a catcher who can also play as an infielder and a utility player. Additionally, the newest Lobos span from coast to coast with a player from Virginia, four from Texas, two from New Mexico, one from Arizona and one from California.

Joining the Lobos in the fall of 2024 will be Caprice Barela, Ava Castillo, Ella Dawson, Jessica DeLeon, Natalie Fritz, Jasmyn Lloyd, Miracle Moeitai McKenzie, Mya Pacheco and Allie Williams.

Entering her second season at UNM, Dickson noted that, “our focus for the 2024 class was adding high-level pitching and key offensive pieces with power and speed.

“I love the athleticism and competitiveness of this group- they train and play at a high level year-round. The class that we brought in has the opportunity to come in and be impact players immediately for our program.”

Caprice Barela | P/UTIL | Las Cruces, New Mexico
A New Mexico native, Barela attends Centennial High School, where she was a two-time 5A district champion (2022, 2023) and was the 5A New Mexico state runner-up in 2022.

In her most recent season, Barela showcased her versatility, carrying a 1.11 ERA with 134 strikeouts while hitting .426 behind seven doubles, four triples, seven home runs and 43 total hits.

A right-handed pitcher, Barela played for NM Ice and Zia Storm at the club level.

Barela intends to major in kinesiology and exercise science at UNM.

Why UNM: “The coaching staff makes UNM Softball a great program to play for and the team shows great work ethic and common goals. Plus, it’s close to home so my family could be at my games.”

Ava Castillo | OF | Mansfield, Texas
From Texas and Pantego Christian Academy, Castillo is a multi-sport athlete, having played soccer, volleyball, archery, track and field and cross country on top of softball.

On the softball field, Castillo was named first team all-district three times, second team all-state twice, district freshman of the year, district defensive player of the year, team defensive MVP, team offensive MVP and honorable mention all-state as well as was named Max Preps/NFCA High School Player of the Week: South Central Region.

Throughout her high school career to date, she’s accumulated 67 stolen bases and was first in the district for slugging percentage.

While playing for her club team Texas Glory, Castillo has recorded 42 stolen bases, with the club winning several tournaments including the 2023 18U USSSA UCE DFW Fall College Classic, the 2022 16U USSSA DFW College Classic, the 2022 16U Tulsa Elite Invitational, 2021 16U TFL Fall Championships and 2021 16u Impact Gold Fall Invite, and was also the co-champions of the 2023 USSSA 18u North Texas Fall Showdown and the 2022 16U Texas Glory Summer Shootout. Her club team has finished in the top five in 19 different tournaments throughout her club career.

Academically, Castillo is a member of the National Honor Society and on the Sports Leadership Council, won a MI3 Leadership award, a scholar-athlete award, Elite Panther Award (4 + sports) and Ultimate Panther award (5 + sports).

Castillo intends to major in exercise science at UNM.

Why UNM: “I chose UNM because of the coaches. They care for who their athletes are on the field but also off the field. They prioritize what it means to not just be a student-athlete, but a student as well.”

Ella Dawson | P | Aldie, Virginia
Dawson comes to UNM from Aldie, Virginia and as an accomplished pitcher at John Champe.

Her freshman year, the right hander was named to the first team all-district, which she repeated her sophomore year while also being named first team all-region and second team all-state. In her most recent season, Dawson was named district player of the year, first team all-region and first team all-district and was named her team MVP after throwing 98.0 innings and allowed 57 hits and 35 runs (25 earned), striking out 197 and having a .160 batting average against, and finished with a 1.786 ERA. In addition, her team won the Cedar Run District championship.

Nationally, Dawson is ranked 57th in the country and has played for Lady Dukes Lamar, Top Gun National and Virginia Glory.

Dawson intends to major in business.

Why UNM: “I chose UNM because I fell in love with the softball coaching staff and players. They made me feel so welcome and safe. The campus is absolutely beautiful, I love the vibe and all of the perks that athletes get at UNM is unreal.”

Jessica DeLeon | C/INF | San Marcos, Texas
Currently attending San Marcos High School in Texas, DeLeon has excelled athletically.

DeLeon was named as a second team all-district catcher in 2022, a 27-6A first team all-district catcher in 2023, team MVP and to the All-Central Texas Third Team Catcher by the Austin American Statesman in 2023.

Academically, she is a National Honor Society member and was also named 27-6A academic all-district in 2021.

At the club level, she has played for Texas Dirt Divas National 18U, Texas Glory Naudin South and the Texas Bombers Gold.

DeLeon intends to study criminal justice.

UNM: “I chose UNM because of the amount of endless opportunities the University has to offer. I love the coaches and how they immediately made me feel at home. The campus is also beautiful.”

Natalie Fritz | P | Gilbert, Arizona
A right-handed pitcher from Arizona, Fritz attends Basha High School.

Fritz is coming off of a successful season in the circle in which her team won the state championship in 2023, with the new Lobo winning 15 games, striking out 170 with a .143 batting average against and a 1.52 ERA. She was named Defensive Player of the Year following her sophomore and junior years and was named first team all-conference.

In her high school career to date, she has a 2.17 ERA with 29 wins and 390 strikeouts, with hitters hitting .189 over 277 innings pitched.

At the club level, Fritz plays for AZ Storm National-Mathis, in which her team took fifth at the TCS Colorado Sparkler Power Pool and third at the Premier PGF Nationals.

Fritz intends to major in exercise science and is the second member of her family to attend UNM, with her great aunt being an alumna.

Why UNM: “The school is pretty and all, but the people I’ve met are what really sold me on UNM.”

Jasmyn Lloyd | UTIL | Grand Prairie, Texas
A versatile player from Texas, Lloyd has succeeded academically and athletically at South Grand Prairie High School.

Athletically, she is a three-time district champion (2021, 2022, 2023), with her team a bi-district champion in 2021, reached the regional quarterfinals in 2022 and area champions in 2023. Individually, she was named first team all-district her freshman through junior years, was the offensive player of the year and second team all-metroplex in 2022, and was all-area second team utility, district offensive player of the year and earned first team all-metroplex in 2023. Among her highlights are 106 career home runs.

Academically, she was named academic all-district her freshman through junior years, is in the top 5% of her class, is a member of National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society and is a Senior Class Officer, serving as the secretary.

At the club level, Lloyd has played for Texas Glory Adkins, Texas Glory and Extra Innings.

Lloyd plans to be a chemistry major.

Why UNM: “I initially became interested in UNM due to the amazing, supportive coaching staff. After visiting a couple of times, I fell in love with the campus and the area as well. Oh, and the way the ball cuts through the mountain air is definitely a plus.”

Miracle Moeitai McKenzie | INF | Long Beach, California
McKenzie joins UNM from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California.

The Lobo signee brings success at the high school level, winning the 2022 Division 3 Del Ray League and the Division 3 CIF State Championship, while also being named to the Del Rey All-League First Team and the MVP in 2022. She was also named to the Del Rey All-League First Team in 2021.

At the club level, McKenzie plays for USA Athletics and was named to the PGF All-American Watchlist in 2023, the PGF Regional Futures Watchlist in 2022 and was ranked 33rd in the Extra Inning Class of 2024 in 2022 after being ranked 69th in the 2021 rankings.

In her most recent club season, she hit .452 with an on-base percentage of .585 and a .968 slugging percentage following 14 hits with five home runs and one double. Additionally, she registered 16 RBI and reached base with seven walks and three hit-by-pitches.

McKenzie intends to be a business major.

Why UNM: “I chose UNM because of the atmosphere. The way the coaches showed their passion and dedication for the players and the sport is also what sold me.”

Mya Pacheco | INF | Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Born and raised in New Mexico, Pacheco is a local Lobo from V. Sue Cleveland High School.

During her high school career, Pacheco has been named the District 1-5A Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, District 1-5A First Team All-District, 5A Metro First Team and 5A all-state first team in 2022 after hitting .538 that season. In 2021, Pacheco was a part of the state and district championship team.

Pacheco plans on majoring in computer science at UNM and will be the second member in her immediate family to attend UNM, joining her mother.

Why UNM: “I chose UNM because it felt like home and I wanted to put on for the 505.”

Allie Williams | OF | Houston, Texas
From Episcopal High School in Houston, Texas, Williams brings a myriad of success to UNM.

During her high school career, she was named to the Houston Chronicle All Private School Team and to the VYPE Sports All Private School Team in both 2022 and 2023, was the VYPE Private School Player of the Year in 2023, and was SPC All-State in 2022 and 2023. In addition, she was named to the SPC All-South Zone in 2021. Nationally, Williams has been named to the Extra Innings class rankings in each of the last five years, ranked as high as 45th in 2022 and ranked in the top 100 in all five years of class rankings.

Entering her senior year, she has already been a part of three conference championships, having won the SPC in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and tied her high school’s single-season home run record with 11 in 2023. Thus far, Williams has a career batting average of .446 with 95 hits that includes 26 doubles, nine triples and 24 home runs, and has accounted for 110 RBI, 38 walks and 17 stolen bases.

Academically, Williams is a member of the National Honor Society, the Honor Council Co-Chairman and earned high academic honors in 2021 and 2022 and intends to major in business at UNM.

When she enrolls at UNM, she will be the third member in her immediate family to play a collegiate sport, joining her mother who played basketball at Howard and her father who played football at Howard.

Why UNM: “I chose UNM because of the fun softball team environment and the coaches.”