The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team begins its quest to return to the Southland Conference Tournament as the Islanders head to San Marcos to take on defending regular-season champion Texas State in a three-game series at Bobcat Baseball Stadium. The series begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. with games at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Islanders enter the series with a 5-2 record after an 11-6 win on Tuesday over Texas A&M-Kingsville. Texas State has lost four straight after beginning the season 3-0. The Bobcats lost to No. 9 Rice in their home opener earlier this week. The Islanders trail in the all-time series 18-5.

"I think it'd be easy to say that our staff and players have a lot of respect for Texas State and what they have accomplished," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "Every year they are in the hunt for the Southland Conference Championship and that is where we are trying to get as a program.

"We are going into the series with the most talented team we've had since I have been here to face Texas State. We have to play really well."

The meeting will be a battle of the Islanders, who are one of the top two offenses in the conference early on versus the Bobcats, who have one of the top staffs. The Islanders enter conference action hitting .322 as a team with four players hitting .400-or-better. Chris Vergne and Omar Garcia lead the way with .474 averages. Marc Damon is at .462 on the year.

Trey Hernandez is hitting .400 and leads the way with four home runs, 16 runs batted in and an .800 slugging percentage. He was named the Louisville Slugger National Hitter of the Week, the Player of the Week and Southland Conference Hitter of the Week. The junior was also named to the College Baseball Foundations National All-Star Lineup.

"We have really been an offensive team early on," said Malone. "We have six or seven guys who have been swinging the bats awfully well. If we our able to sustain our offensive momentum we will have a chance everyday."

On the mound, the Islanders will send lefty Roy Ferdin on Friday with right-handed pitchers Brandon Orr and Marc Damon slated to start the final two gamesof the series. Led by Phillip Garcia, Chris Pena and Ian Campbell, the bullpen is developing quality depth.

"Our pitching has been more stable early on because we have more depth," said Malone. "We have done a good job of avoiding the big inning and a lot of that is the depth we have with 10-11 arms that have given us quality innings."

The Islanders will have some difficulty with a Bobcat staff that has compiled a 3.69 ERA early on. Seven pitchers have a 3.97 ERA or better. Michael Russo (1-0, 1.50) will start the series opener along with fellow righty Brian Borski (1-1, 4.50). Lefty Lee Colon (1-1, 2.45) will start the finale.

The pitching has carried the Bobcats early. They are hitting just .221 as a team with Andrew Stumph hitting a team-best .385. Shaun Garcia is batting .333 and Tyler Sibley .321.

Islander fans can track the series via live stats at Audio will be available on the Texas State site on Friday and Sunday.