June 15, 2010

ISLANDER SOFTBALL ENJOYS RECORD-BREAKING YEAR

With the Women's College World Series finished and the college softball season complete, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi softball team finds itself among the nation's elite in several statistical categories.

The Islanders finished the season seventh in team batting average with a .326 mark on the year. That puts them in the company of the best in the nation, just one point behind national runner-up Arizona and 10 points behind national champion UCLA. The Islanders finished ahead of five teams that made it to the WCWS in Oklahoma City.

"Anytime you can compare yourself to everybody in the nation and have a set number to it, it gives you some validation," said head coach Jake Schumann. "We had a successful year and with our kids knowing where we are at, offensively, defensively and in pitching, we know where we need to improve, not only in the whole scheme of things but on a day to day basis."

In addition to finishing in the top 10 in team batting average, the team was also ninth in doubles per game, 12th in double plays per game, 24th in fielding percentage, 29th in slugging percentage, 30th in scoring and 32nd in stolen bases per game.

"It's great to be awesome offensively and pretty good defensively but we have to do all three phases," said Schumann. "It tells us where our deficiencies are and where we have to get better.

"We want to be No. 1 in all those categories so how you do that is you continue to recruit well and continue to do the things in practice to get better."

Along with the team accomplishments, Islander players were also highly ranked nationally in individual categories. Hannah Schwarz finished the season tied for 30th in the nation with a .410 batting average. Caley Jeter finished 23rd in on-base percentage at .526 for the year while coming in 75th in batting average with a .384 mark. She was also the 42nd toughest to strikeout with one strikeout for every 16.8 at bats, striking out just nine times all season in 151 at bats.

The two individuals were named to the 2010 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Region Teams as Schwarz was named First Team All-Central Region while Jeter was named to the second team.

"Individually, you look at Hannah and Caley, anytime you can finish in the top 100 in anything, and they are in the top 30 of a couple categories, that's saying a lot because there are a lot of division I softball players," said Schumann. "That's just a testament to them individually and how hard they work with the extra batting practice and the extra defensive practice.

"They are two kids that were recognized for All-Region and they set an example for our kids on the team now and our kids coming in that you are going to get recognized for the hard work."

Schwarz and Jeter, along with catcher Brittany Tucker, will help make up the core of the Islanders offense that was the best in the Southland Conference. The trio of players led the Islanders in the majority of offensive categories and look to help continue the resurgence of the Islander program under Schumann's direction.

As a team, they set new records for runs in a season, scoring 316 and breaking the old mark by 104 runs, as well as recording 505 hits, 36 home runs, 159 walks and 89 stolen bases. The previous team highs were 415 hits, 30 home runs, 139 walks and 53 stolen bases.

"The individual and team accolades will come," said Schumann. "It's just something that's a building block and the foundation for what we've started the last couple of years and making something that we can be proud of."