March 15, 2009

TALLMAN, BYARS BEDEVIL NORTHWESTERN STATE

Natchitoches, La. - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi softball team got big performances from Alaina Byars and Addie Tallman as the Islanders swept their Southland Conference series against the Northwestern State Demons.

Tallman threw her first no-hitter as an Islander in the second game of the day while Byars hit two homeruns in the first game and another in the second game to pace the TAMUCC offense to a big day. Tallman finished the day with two wins and Byars had three homeruns and six RBI. The no-hitter was the first by an Islander pitcher since Margo Hurdt had one against Northwestern State last season on March 8.

The Islanders improved to 10-18 on the season while getting their first two wins in SLC action to move to 2-9. The Demons fall to 3-22 on the year with a 1-10 record in SLC games.

"We played really relaxed out there," said head coach Jake Schumann. "We hit well, pitched well and played defense well today."

In the first game, the two teams exploded offensively in the first two innings. In the top of the first, the Islanders plated three runs when Larissa Martin singled and moved to second on a Stephanie Estrada base hit. Byars followed with her first homer of the day to give TAMUCC an early 3-0 lead. The Demons responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, making it 3-2 Islanders.

The second inning saw more of the same, with the Islanders plating three more runs to go up 6-2. Sandy Schumann and Cassie Redman reached on singles to start out the inning. Lauren Sanders reached on a fielder's choice while Schumann was out at third base. Martin took a hit-by-pitch to load the bases for the Islanders before Estrada hit a ball to the left fielder that was misplayed, allowing all three runners to score. The Demons once again responded with a pair of runs to make it 6-4 after two complete innings.

The Islanders got a single run in the fourth inning when Redman reached on a walk and stole second base. Redman reached third on an error by the third baseman and scored on a Martin sacrifice fly to center field, making it 7-4.

In the seventh, the Islanders pushed the final run across on a Byars solo homerun to right field to make it 8-4.

"Alaina hit the ball hard today," said Schumann. "She hit it hard even when she made outs and was able to get some elevation on three pitches today."

In the second game, Tallman made sure the Islanders had an easy go of it, allowing only two base runners all day on a pair of walks to throw her first no-hitter in an Islander uniform.

"We needed Addie to take the ball and do well for us out there," said Schumann. "She struggled the first two innings and gave us 12 great innings afterwards to get us back in the win column."

Tallman did not allow a run in her final 12 innings on the afternoon. In game two, her only blemishes were walks to Ainsley Pellerin to begin the third and sixth innings. She got plenty of help from the Islander offense to give TAMUCC the sweep for the weekend, as SLC rules do not allow the extending of the regularly scheduled series past the final day.

In the second inning, the Islanders put three on the board when Hurdt led off with a single, followed by a Kim Connelly double down the left field line. Schumann followed with a double of her own to plate Hurdt and Connelly to make it 2-0 TAMUCC. Alejia Cain grounded out to move Schumann to third base before a Sanders single scored her to make it 3-0 Islanders.

The very next inning, Estrada led off by reaching on an error by the second baseman and advanced to second. Byars followed with her third homerun of the day to make it 5-0 TAMUCC.

The Islanders finished the scoring in the top of the fifth by pushing across another pair of runs. Estrada led off with a single and stole second base. Landry Moore singled to move Estrada to third base. The runners moved up on a passed ball, Moore moving to third while Estrada scored. Andrea Simancas plated the final run with a double to centerfield to score Moore and finished the scoring at 7-0.

"Hopefully we can keep this going through the rest of the week on the road," said Schumann. "We want to get back home next weekend playing like we did today."

The Islanders finish out the week with a pair of games on Tuesday against Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., two against Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday in Monroe, La. and a single game against Centenary in Shreveport, La. on Thursday. The Islanders return home with a series against Stephen F. Austin next weekend.