Islanders Baseball Opens Season With Four Against MVSU

Islanders Baseball Opens Season With Four Against MVSU

Chapman Field (500) • Corpus Christi, Texas

Friday, Feb. 18 • 2 p.m.
ISLANDERS: LHP Todd Simko | MVSU: RHP Eric Dowell

Saturday, Feb. 19 • 11 a.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Brett Carnline | MVSU: RHP Steven Barnes

Saturday, Feb. 19 • 2 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Ian Campbell | MVSU: RHP David Brauhn

Sunday, Feb. 20 • 1 p.m.

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team will start its 2011 campaign with a four-game series against Mississippi Valley State at Chapman Field this weekend. The two teams will play Friday, a doubleheader on Saturday and the series finale on Sunday in the first games of the season for all of college baseball.

The Islanders are coming off a disappointing 20-33-1 season a year ago, but return eight starters from an offense that was one of the best in the Southland last year. Led by preseason First Team All-Southland Conference honoree Trey Hernandez, the Islanders should have plenty of pop heading into the 2011 season. On the mound, newcomers are the story for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, as several high-profile newbies will toe the rubber for the Islanders this weekend. Scott Malone is in his fourth season as the bench boss for the Islanders.

Mississippi Valley State comes to the Coastal Bend after posting a 23-30 season a year ago. The Delta Devils did go 16-8 to finish second in the SWAC Eastern Division, but went two games and out at the conference tournament, being eliminated by Texas Southern.Head Coach Doug Shanks is in his 11th year at the helm of the Delta Devils.

This weekend will mark the first meeting on the diamond between the Islanders and Delta Devils. The Islanders have a long history with foes from the Southwestern Athletic Conference though, posting a 61-6-1 record against the league. The Islanders are 29-2-1 against Texas Southern, 23-1 against Prairie View, 9-1 against Grambling and 0-3 against Southern.

The Islanders look to return to the Southland Conference Tournament after a two-year absence from the event. Last season, the Islanders finished tied for 11th with a 10-22-1 record and were 12th in 2009 after going 9-24. The last appearance in the tourney came in 2008, when the Islanders posted a 14-15-1 record to finish eighth in the league. In the preseason polls, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi was picked 10th by both coaches and sports information directors.

Senior first baseman Trey Hernandez returns as in 2011 one of the top players in school history. Hernandez was a Second Team All-Southland Conference honoree a season ago after hitting a league-leading 17 home runs in 2010. He also had 63 RBI, the second-highest total in the league, and hit a team-leading .361.

Hernandez is the school's all-time leader in both home runs (39) and RBI (152) and will look to make a run at 50 homers and 200 driven in in his senior campaign. The Robstown native was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2008 and has earned Southland Player of the Week honors twice in his career.

Brotherly love will be a theme for the Islanders on the mound this year, as former Calallen standouts Sean and Adam Hoelscher will both be on the staff for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi. The brothers helped Calallen rise to one of the top programs in the nation in their time with the Wildcats.

Sean's journey to Corpus Christi was more wayward than that of his brother, as he spent two years as a part of the staff at TCU before electing to transfer to the Island University in the summer of 2009. After a year off due to NCAA transfer rules, the elder Hoelscher is back on the mound and ready to don an Islanders uniform. In his freshman campaign, Sean was named a Freshman All-American after going 7-3 with a 5.02 ERA in 2008.

Adam had a strong season for the Islanders a year ago, and is expected to return to the bullpen in 2011. Last season, he started the year in the pen and at one point had seven straight scoreless appearances on the bump. With the Islanders short on starting pitching, he finished the year in the rotation, starting the final six games. He finished the year with a team-best 4.47 ERA.

The Islanders have a wealth of returning experience in the batter's box in 2011. Among the regular starters, only Cory Ege is departed, and nine players who registered at least 150 at-bats return to the squad.

Overall, the Islanders return 43 of their 45 home runs (96 percent), 278 of 324 RBI (86 percent), 486 of 575 hits (85 percent) and 301 of 360 runs (84 percent). Islanders returners posted an aggregate .313 average and .467 slugging percentage a year ago.