February 26, 2009

ISLANDERS OPEN SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE PLAY AGAINST 'CATS

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and the Texas State baseball teams will get an early start on the other 10 teams of the Southland Conference when the two open league play with a three-game series at Whataburger Field. The first game is at 6:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. contests on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Islanders will looking to snap a four-game losing streak. After opening with a 13-3 win over New Mexico last Friday the Islanders have struggled. The Bobcats enter the series with a 3-2 mark.

"It is not that we are starting conference play this early that scares me," said Islander coach Scott Malone. "What scares me is that we haven't been playing well. Our starting pitching has been okay, but we have had some kinks in the bullpen. We can't expect to get seven or eight innings out of our starters. We need more out of our bullpen and it starts with Brett Gibson, Bryant Sparkman and Trey Hernandez."

The Islanders will go with a pair of righties in their first two games. Andrew Toppert will start Friday, while Brett Carnline gets the call on Saturday. Roy Ferdin will make his third start of the young season and is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA. Toppert is 0-1 and Carnline 0-2.

Malone knows his team also needs to improve on offense. The Islanders are hitting .275 as a team thus far. Martin Parra leads the team with a .444 average, while Stephen Flora is hitting .368 with a team-high four RBI and four runs scored.

"We need more consistency offensively and to be more aggressive," said the coach. "We need to drive in runs when the opportunity presents itself. We also need to do a better job of swinging the bats with two strikes at the plate. We need to start winning the at bats when they are late in the count."

Against Texas State the task will be difficult. The Bobcats are again picked to be one of the top teams in the Southland.

"Texas State is a perennial top three team in the league," said the Islander coach. "If we want to reach that level and become one of those teams, we need to win a series like this at home."

Texas State is hitting .282 as a team lead by Bret Atwood with a .545 average and seven runs scored. Paul Goldschmidt has seven RBI and Tyler Sibley six. On the mound, the Bobcats have a 4.43 ERA. They will send a trio of righthanders to the mound in Zach Tritz, Kane Holbrooks and Brian Borski. All three recorded wins in their first starts of the season.